Updated 01-IV-2016

Fostoria Glass Specialty

The Fostoria Glass Specialty Company was formed in 1899 to supply glass bulbs and tubing for its owner, the Fostoria Incandescent Lamp Company. Possibly from the outset, it absorbed another local competitor, the Fostoria Bulb & Bottle Company, and later took control of the Loudon Glass House. It was one of the founding factories that made up the National Electric Lamp Works in the USA, and ultimately became a factory of General Electric. Following the drying up of natural gas supplies in Fostoria, continued production could no longer be justified and its products were transferred to other GE Lamp Glass factories in the region.

Fostoria Incandescent Lamp Company, Glass Works, 1901

Address End of State Street, Fostoria, Ohio, U.S.A.
Location 41.1448°N, -83.4075°E
Opened 1899
Closed 1919/20
Products Glass Bulbs, tubing and cane

Start of Operations
The origins of this building can be traced back to the Mambourg Glass Company, founded in 1887 by Mr. Mambourg who emigrated from Belgium and brought skilled glassworkers with him. The factory was purpose-built for his plate glass operations, and was attracted to Fostoria when a plentify supply of natural gas was discovered, and the town made that available free of charge to new industries relocating to the area. The Mambourg business continued until 1894.

The building was taken over in 1899 by the Fostoria Incandescent Lamp Company which had desires to establish its own independent glass manufacturing. It is not clear if this site may have been the first glassmaking operation of that company. One reference cites that a year beforehand, in 1898, it had taken over the Fostoria Bulb & Bottle Company

Takeover by National
Both of these glass companies became part of the National Lamp Works in 1901, when their parent company merged with the Sunbeam Incandescent Lamp Company and became a division of General Electric. A year later, The Fostoria Glass Specialty Company acquired a third glassworks, the Loudon Glass House, which was also absorbed into group.

It is not certain whether or not the original factory of the Fostoria Glass Specialty company actually manufactured glass bulbs and tubing for the lamp industry, or if that was left to its absorbed companies, the Loudon and Bulb & Bottle plants. One of its major product lines was decorative glassware, such as hand-formed lampshades.

Incorporation into GE and Closure
In 1911, General Electric was ordered to fully absorb its subsidiary, the National Lamp Works, and on that occasion the Fostoria Lamp and Lamp Glass factories came fully under the control of GE. This brought General Electric into the unusual position of manufacturing artistic objects when it acquired the facility. Around that time GE ended much of the Fostoria lamp glass production, which was based largely on hand-made processes that were labour intensive, relatively expensive and suffering large dimensional variations. GE favoured the superior machine-made products of Libbey Glass and Corning, and all but a few special products came to an end at Fostoria. Artistic glass products were however manufactured for several years while under GE's ownership.

In 1919-20 when the natural gas supplies at Fostoria finally dried up, local production could no longer be justified and the factory was closed. Production of glass bulbs was transferred to Niles Glass and Pitney Glass in Ohio, and tubing was relocated to the newly established Bridgeville Glass Plant.

The building was later taken over by another glass company which resumed the decorative glass production. Eventually Copeland Air Compressor manufacturing acquired the entire site and the buildings still stand, having been most recently occupied by Inter Metro Industries.

Fostoria Glass Specialty, View 1 Fostoria Glass Specialty, View 1 Fostoria Glass Specialty, View 2 Fostoria Glass Specialty, View 2
Fostoria Glass Specialty, View 3 Office Staff Office Staff Plan of Mambourg Glass Works

1 Glass in Northwest Ohio, Quentin R. Scrabek Jr, Arcadia Publishing 2007, ISBN 978-0-7385-5111-1 p.56.
2 Fostoria.org website, Fostoria Glassmaking History.
3 History Note by Brian Crouse, Waldenwoods Newsletter, March-April 2009, p2.
4 Expansion of Fostoria Glass Specialty Works, The Coffeyville Daily Journal, 24th June 1907 p.2
5 Images of America - Fostoria, Ohio Vol.2, Paul H. Krupp, Arcadia Publishing, ISBN 0-7385-2005-5, pp.57-58, 60.
6 Fostoria.org website, Historic Postcards by Ray Dell.
7 Fostoria.org website, Historic Postcards by Pearl Peter.
8 Fostoria Ohio - A Pictorial History through Postcards.