Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Learning About Anchor Hocking

If you are a fan of vintage kitchenware, you have seen many products that were made by Anchor Hocking. One of the very first things I collected was Anchor Hocking Savannah. I bought it new in the store (not vintage) and because I loved the pattern so much, I decided to buy extra pieces to save for later, because I knew that boys, being boys, would end up breaking them. I was hoping to use one set right away and save the other set for when the boys moved out. The first set is long gone, and the second set is still in storage-LOL! Some day they will move out-right?


I did some research to see what I could learn about this company, and thought I'd share my findings with you-in case you were interested too!

Hocking Glass was founded in 1905 when Isaac Collins along with some friends, and some help from E.B.Good, bought the Lancaster Carbon Company in Lancaster, Ohio. He had been working in the design/decorating department of Ohio Flint Glass Company when this opportunity came up.

He named his company Hocking Glass Company (after the Hocking River, which ran near by). During their first year of production, they made around $20,000. The company had a great start and things were going well until 1924, when a fire destroyed the entire building. They didn't give up. They raised money and built what is now called Plant 1 on the site of the original building. Plant 1 was specifically designed to produce glassware.

Plant 2 was obtained later that year when they bought controlling rites in the Lancaster Glass Company. They also bought Standard Glass Manufacturing Company which came with 2 more plants in two different locations. Along with purchasing the plants,  they gained a larger production ability as well as skilled workers with advanced production techniques that helped them become more knowledgeable and skilled in creating glassware.

With more and more automated machinery they were able to press glass thirty times faster than when they first started out. This technology was what saved the company during the lean years of the depression. They developed a machine that was a 15 mold machine. It could produce ninety pieces of blown glass per minute, and allowed them to sell juice tumblers for "two for a nickel". The low prices are what saved them when other companies couldn't compete in the tough economic times.

In 1931, they added glass containers to the list of their production items when they purchased 50% of the General Glass Company and acquired the Turner Glass Company. In 1934, they developed the first "one way" bottle. One way means it was a throw away bottle with no deposit, no return, no refill, and was meant to be disposable, even though it was glass.

The company continued to grow through all of the acquisitions they were making and in 1937, they changed their name to Anchor Hocking Glass Company when Anchor Cap and Closure Company and its subsidiaries merged with the Hocking Glass Company. With all of their plant locations and abilities they were able to get into all kinds of glassware production from small cosmetic cases, to tableware, toiletries, housewares, as well as closure and sealing machinery.

In 1942 they introduced their Fire King line. It was made from pressed oven proof glass and it was made into kitchenware and dinnerware. They produced the Fire King line until the 1970's. It was an opaque color and something totally different from the previous lines of clear kitchenware and dinnerware. The two most popular colors were (and still are) jadeite, and a shiny iridescent peach color called peach lustre. Additional colors include milk glass and turquoise blue.

Through the fifties and sixties, they were busy purchasing existing plants, or building entirely new plants throughout the United States and even some in Canada. In 1969, they dropped the word Glass from their name because they had been branching out into plastic containers and lighting in 1970. Then they expanded into pottery, china, restaurant ware and collector plates.

During the 70's and 80's a lot of changes started happening, with plants being bought and sold.In 1983 they decided to spin off their glass container operations and it was taken over by the Newell Corporation in 1987. The Newell Corporation invested a lot of new money into the company and upgraded several facilities and sold off several of the less profitable locations.

The coffee mugs that they produced were simple in design, but were very durable. Sometimes designs were created to showcase companies like McDonald's or Esso. Mostly though, they were just a simple design that was economical, durable and long lasting.

Their mixing bowls were noted for their unusual shape called splash proof. They have a narrow base that widens to the tall top edge, in a Swedish type of design. The splash proof bowls can be found in several patterns. The most popular are the dot bowls, with a white background and either red or black dots, and the tulip bowls-white background with brightly colored tulips.

Their Jadeite line is very popular among collectors, but beware-I've seen several reproductions lately! If you are looking for the real thing-make sure you take the time to flip the item over and look for the true back stamp, because not all dealers will be up front and honest that their item is a repro. I've even found a place online where you can order cases of reproduction pieces pretty much dirt cheap to resell. I'm not sure if the company in China is affiliated with Anchor Hocking or if they have caught onto the collecting wave and are trying to cash in on it.

I only have a few pieces of Jadeite, some of which are new reproductions-that I knew about when I purchased them. I bought them in an antique store, and they weren't listed as "new", but when I flipped them over, I knew they weren't real-the made in China tag gave it away. I'm still glad to have bought them though-I love the design. I also picked up a few plates at a garage sale last summer-they are the real deal. I'd really like to find a Jadeite batter bowl and butter dish. Then I think my Jadeite wish list will be complete!

I have two Tulip splash proof bowls, and two red dot splash proof bowls I've been searching for the other two to complete each set. Maybe this summer will be the year that I complete them both! I did have a couple of pieces of the peach lustre, but it wasn't my favorite, so I sold them. I'm not a big fan of milk glass. I've heard people say that either you like it or you don't-there isn't any in between. What do you think? I know a lot of people who really like milk glass, and I know a lot who don't like it at all. I've never met someone who is neutral.

I like the Primrose pattern, but not enough to collect it. I've sold several pieces from my booth, so I know at least one person in my areas likes it too! I was excited to see that they have a mug with my name-Kimberly. Until I actually saw the mug. It is really not to my liking at all! Too bad! It would have been fun to collect something that has my name.

If you'd like to look at all of the patterns and designs that were associated with the Fire King line, I suggest checking out a couple of books from your local library. An internet search is quick and easy, but doesn't always come up with all the designs in one place like a book can. The two books I enjoyed looking through are "A Collectors Guide to Anchor Hocking's Fire King Glassware" and "An Unauthorized Guide to Fire King Glasswares". Both had great pictures and descriptions.


  1. I love all your pretties. I had an Anchor Hocking Punch Bowl and cups like that one time. It probably wasn't old, but I got it at auction for $5, the whole set.

  2. I am on the fence about milk glass. I don't love it enough to collect it but then I see photos of it in Country Living Magazine with beautiful spring flowers and I change my mind!

    Love these informative posts of yours. Keep 'em up!