History of the New England and Libbey Glass Companies 1818-1888
The establishment of the New England Glass Company in 1818 can be fully understood only by going back to the late 18th century and the founding of the Boston Crown Glass Company in South Boston. This factory was chartered to produce crown or window glass and is said to have introduced the use of lead glass to the North Atlantic states. Although the firm continued production, in 1814 several of its workers incorporated the Boston Porcelain and Glass Company whose factory began production in 1815 and produced fine glass instead of the relatively crude crown glass. The venture was not a success, however, and the factory ceased operation by 1817.
In November of 1817, the grounds and buildings of the Boston Porcelain and Glass Company were sold at auction to a group of men including Amos Binney, Daniel Hastings, Edmund Monroe, and Deming Jarves. Four months later, on February 16, 1818, a company known as the New England Glass Company was incorporated and occupied this site.
The most famous of these men was Deming Jarves, a prosperous Boston businessman who held an American monopoly on the production of red lead needed in the making of fine tablewares. The importance of the Jarves monopoly cannot be underemphasized, for it permitted the New England Glass Company to compete successfully with foreign glasshouses who had before used the lead market solely for their own production. Jarves was also the first agent, or general manager, of the New England Glass Company, although he left the works in 1826 to become the founder of the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company. In the new company, Jarves was an experimenter in pressed glass, coloring of glass, and new methods of manufacture. In 1854, he was also the author of a valuable pamphlet and document, Reminiscences of Glassmaking. Jarves was succeeded at the New England Glass Company by four agents, the last of whom was William L. Libbey who served from 1870-1883. William Libbey had previously owned the Mount Washington Glassworks in South Boston. He sold his interest in this firm when he became agent for the New England Glass Company. Libbey died in 1883 and his son, Edward Drummond Libbey, headed the company for five years.
Selections from the book “Keefe, John Webster. Libbey Glass; A Tradition of 150 Years, 1818-1968. Toledo, Ohio: Toledo Museum of Art, 1968, 69 p.”