This month’s featured museum piece (that unfortunately is not for sale) is a stunning Heisey Old Williamsburg 3-light candelabra. This piece is one of our most recent museum acquisitions, and was crafted in the distinctive “Sahara Yellow” color. This candelabra, an image of which is available at right, stands 15 inches tall and is 12 inches wide. What makes this candelabra rare is the color of the prisms that hang below each of the candleholders. Clear-colored prisms were part of the design of this piece for many years, but this particular candelabra was created with Sahara yellow prisms. The Sahara-colored prisms are in fact so rare that our Curating staff and crystal specialists indicated that they had never seen them before we acquired this piece. The piece has been dated to the Great Depression, between 1930 and 1937.
While many glass manufacturers during this period produced lower-quality pieces that were defined by streaks, bubbles, and a lack of clarity, Heisey maintained a superior reputation for quality and continued to attract discriminating customers who shopped at the finest stores. One interesting note, candelabras of this type were typically sold to the stores in parts to be assembled at the store. The pieces included the candelabra, bobeches (the collar that fits around the top of the candelabra’s arms and contained wax drippings), and the actual candle holder, which screwed into the candelabra by means of metal screws called ferrules.
Heisey chose the name Old Williamsburg because the piece reflected the simple style of the Colonial period. Heisey played an important role in the development in American industry, as did many other glass companies that were its contemporaries. In 1842, A. H. Heisey and his parents immigrated to the United States from Germany. The Heisey family settled in Merrittown, Pennsylvania. As an adult, A. H. Heisey worked as a glass blower for the Cascade Glass Co. in Pittsburgh. He left his job at Cascade Glass to serve in the Army during the Civil War and was posted with the 155th Infantry Division of Pennsylvania. Soon after the end of the war, Heisey returned to Pennsylvania to resume work in the glass business. His primary duties changed somewhat when he was hired by the firm Ripley and Co. as a salesman. At Ripley and Co., Heisey met his future wife, Susan. Susan Duncan was the daughter of the controlling partner of the Ripley and Co. firm. Her father would later buy Ripley and Co. and rename it Duncan and Sons. Over the next few years, Heisey worked closely with Susan’s father, helping run the Duncan firm. Duncan and Sons joined the U.S. Glass Combine in 1893. US Glass was a group of glass producing factories located throughout the Ohio River Valley.
By this time, Heisey was made a member of the board of directors for the Duncan and Sons Co. and also served as the company’s managing director in charge of sales. It is during this time that Heisey decided to open his own factory. In 1895, Heisey began building his own glass factory in Newark, OH. Heisey employed a number of great artists and created a variety of exceptional designs throughout the history of his company. While the candelabra we feature this month may not be for sale, we do have many other Heisey patterns in which pieces are offered for sale. Click here to browse our extensive inventory of Heisey patterns.
Want to know more about Heisey Crystal? Click here for an informative history.