Saturday, October 8, 2011

Learning about Hazel Atlas...

It's been a while since I've done any research so I decided to find out about the Hazel Atlas Company. The company called Hazel Atlas came to be because of a merger of four different companies in 1902 in Washington, Pennsylvania. The four companies were Hazel Glass and Metals Company, Atlas Glass Company, Wheeling Metal Plant and Republic Glass Company.

The Hazel Company was started in 1885 by Charles N. Brady (he was also president of Riverside Glass at the same time) and C. H. Tallman in Wellsburg, West Virginia. They each invested $600 to start the company, which received it's name (Hazel) by a suggestion from one of the women in Brady's family-because she thought the name had a "nice sound". Their beginnings were humble, they rented space, and purchased their glass from Riverside Glass.

At first they focused on the opal glass liners for canning jars, and their business was a huge success. They quickly outgrew their rented space and purchased property in 1886 in Washington, Pennsylvania. They began to expand their production to include ointment jars and salve boxes. By this time, Charles was the full time president of the company. His dream was to produce glass containers more cheaply than tin cans.

Charles invested money in the Wheeling Foundry and Metal Company and requested that they develop machinery to produce the glass products. Which would increase productivity and profits, because at the time all of the products were hand blown. They were constantly looking for ways to develop more and more automation options for their glass.

Republic Glass Company was started by Charles' brother, W.S. Brady, and they made pressed glass tumblers. J.C. Brady, another brother of Charles, began producing zinc caps in his company, which was called Wheeling Metal Plant. The Atlas Glass Company was formed about the same time, and their main focus was to produce fruit jars.

When all of the companies merged in 1902, they expanded their interests from containers and closures to include a line of tableware that was attractive and affordable. As safer methods for storing and packaging items became available, housewives started purchasing more and more, and business soared for Hazel Atlas.

In the 1920's business slowed down, and they dropped their prices. Business continued to be slow and drop for 8 more years. The Prohibition Act forced a lot of glass companies that produced bottles for liquor, wine and beer to seek other ways to make a profit. They started joining forces to become larger forces in the industry and increased the competition with Hazel Atlas. Hazel Atlas, striving to stay competitive also purchased several plants in the early 20's.

In 1929 when the stock market crashed, Hazel Atlas still continued filling orders and even slowly growing. By 1930, they had 15 glass plants, and had decided to expand. Their new corporate headquarters (a four story building) was built for $200,000. The building was set up with all of the latest equipment, making it a very desirable place to work.

By this time they had over 5,000 employees. In 1933, the average starting wage was 33 cents per hour. Their company policy stated that they wouldn't hire anyone under the age of 18 and they wouldn't hire married women. If a woman was to get married while she worked for them, she was given two weeks notice and forced to "retire". Their policy continued in effect until World War II when the men were drafted and women had to step in to keep things running.

Some of the glass containers that they produced are; baby food jars, pickle and mayonnaise jars, catsup bottles, canning jars, dairy creamers, glass tumblers, vaseline jars, salve jars, ink jars, glue jars, shoe polish jars and face cream jars. They also made glass dinnerware lines and glass food storage items as well as liquor decanters.

Some of their glassware designs/patterns include; Aurora (late 1930's), Cloverleaf (1931-1935), Colonial Black (1930), Florentine (1932-1934 & New Florentine 1934-1936-also called Poppy), Fruits (1931-1953),  Moderntone (1934-1937), Newport/Hairpin (1936-1940), New Century (1930-1932), Ovide (platonite dinnerware with bright fired on colors 1930's), Ribbon (1930-1931), Royal Lace (1934-1941) and Starlight (1938).

Along with the usual depression glass colors of pink, yellow and green, Hazel Atlas also produced burgundy, cobalt, platonite (a white-ish blueish color with fired on colors), blue and amethyst. Many of their blue colored items also had a decal image of Shirley Temple (my mom and dad have some cereal bowls and a few other items in blue with the decal). They were offered by General Mills as a premium.

The earliest markings on Hazel products was an "N", which was later changed to an "H" directly above an "A" for Hazel Atlas.

Things went downhill for the company when they became a part of Continental Can Company in 1956. Employees working for them at the time tell of complacent managers who drew large salaries and didn't reinvest in research and development. They were involved in an anti-trust case in 1957 that was settled by the Supreme Court. They continued production into the 60's. In 1964 ten of their remaining 12 plants were sold to Brockway Glass Company as part of a lawsuit settlement.

In 1987 Owens-Illinois bid $60 per share( $750 million)  for Brockway Glass and in 1988 Brockway and Owens-Illinois merged. Owens-Brockway is still in business today and they have plants throughout the United States.

I really learned a lot from researching this! I had fun doing it too! It's amazing what you can find on the internet! Hope you enjoyed learning about Hazel Atlas too!

I'm waiting for this book to come in at the library so I can drool over the pictures!


  1. I have that book and I love it! I saved up swag bucks and bought it on Amazon. I love to look at all the gorgeous stuff and it helps me spot things when I'm out thrifting! hugs, Linda

  2. I'm wondering if anyone knows whether the bright fiesta colored ball jugs and tumblers are safe to drink from. I have a set where the fired on color on the tumblers is over interior clear glass, so they seem OK, but the bright orange jug seems to have color throughout.