For a self professed glass junky, collecting Heisey glassware is a “must have”. This line of collectible glass includes many styles, colors and pieces but it is their clear glass that I love the best. Not easily found, Heisey glass has long been one of my favorite collectibles. Their glass is easily identified by the extremely clear and brilliant look as well as the finely polished foot of each piece. It is the crystal look of their glass that first caught my attention in the 1980’s and kept me looking for this illusive glass even today. The quality of their glass as well as the workmanship in each piece is close to perfection. Never a mold mark or manufacturer’s flaw on their finished glass is achieved through a process called firepolishing. The bases of each piece are ground flat with a squared off edge.
Most pieces are impressed with the company logo, a raised “H” inscribed inside a diamond shape about ¼ inch long. Look for the logo stamp on the bottom of most larger pieces and on the base or stem of drinking glasses and compotes. I have a mustard spoon impressed with the Heisey logo on the spoon handle.
Highly collectible throughout the Midwest and other areas of North America, Heisey produced glass in dozens of patterns from 1895 through 1957 when their factory closed. My personal favorite is their Greek Key pattern. Other pattern names include: Crystolite, Key, Empress, Plantation, Ridgeleigh, Stanhope, Old Sandwich, and Yeoman, among the dozens of other styles and patterns.
Opened in 1895 by A.H. Heisey in Newark, Ohio, the Heisey Company produced fine quality glass tableware and decorative glass figurines. Pressed glassware pieces as well as blown glassware made in a variety of patterns rounding out their offerings for home use. In addition, Heisey produced glass for automobile headlights and Holophane glassware lenses for lighting fixtures used in commercial applications. Holophane lighting fixtures use a special mixture of glass called borosilicate glass for the reflectors to provide a combination of up-light and down-light to illuminate any environment without creating dark spots or glare.
While I only collect Heisey pieces in clear glass, they produced many pieces in vibrant colors. Heisey apparently made some milk glass and Vaseline glass pieces although I personally have never seen any in my travels.
When the factory closed in 1957, Imperial Glass Company purchased the molds from Heisey and continued to produce some pieces from their line of glassware replacing the Heisey logo with their own until they went out of business in 1984. Many of these pieces were animal figurines, mostly in new or original colors using the old molds.
If you are like me and also like good quality glassware and wish to begin collecting Heisey glass, start investigating the possibilities on the internet. Get a feel for the styles and shapes as well as pricing. Figure out which Heisey patterns appeal to you. Although many pieces can be found online, for me it is the thrill of the hunt, the stumbling upon a piece I never knew existed that gets my collecting genes all a twitter. So get out there and hunt. Learn to feel the glass. Pick up a piece of Heisey glass and another piece of similar size. Feel the difference. The Heisey will always be finished much finer, feel so much more smooth to the touch, and weigh a little more than a similar piece. But, the thing that tells me the piece is Heisey, other than the logo mark is the foot. The bottom of Heisey glass is almost always ground perfectly flat giving this glass the look of good quality crystal; even something as mundane as a mustard jar was made with a ground foot. Additionally, each piece will be marked with the Heisey logo; on the bottom, inside the lid, and on the handle of the spoon.
Enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Get out there and investigate the differences of the many types of glass sold in your local antique shops, check out the thrift shops in your area (I’ve found Heisey pieces at Goodwill – not often but that’s the fun) and do not overlook that piece of glass at the next yard sale. It could just turn out to be Heisey.