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Authored by: Justin Stoudt & John Whitmore

Setting the Stage:

          Erected in 1918, the Lynchburg Glass Works was considered a state of the art facility. The entire factory complex covered approximately five acres, and was situated near the corner of Ann and Hudson Streets in the city of Lynchburg, Virginia. Direct rail access was provided by a spur off of the Southern Railway. Originally, the company was intent upon providing a variety of glassware, including various types of bottles and window panes.

Reorganization:

          In 1923, the Company was reorganized and renamed the Lynchburg Glass Works. The main goal of the new enterprise was to produce glass pin-type insulators. The Brookfield Glass Co had closed in 1922, and it was felt that there was a major market niche to be gained in their place. This new endeavor was to be headed by J. William Gayner, formerly of Gayner Glass Works in Salem, New Jersey. Due to production problems at the Gayner Glass Works, Gayner left and brought the experience needed to help Lynchburg industrialize. Along with his knowledge, Gayner brought with him equipment and molds that were originally used at Gayner Glass Works. Some of this equipment is known to have included: four hand operated insulator presses, an assortment of Gayner embossed insulator molds, and a Gayner built automatic insulator machine. Late in 1922, when the equipment of the Brookfield Glass Co. was liquidated, Lynchburg Glass Company obtained the rights to the Brookfield-Kribbs presses and paid royalties for their use. It is most likely that some used Brookfield insulator molds were obtained at that time, but the extent of this acquisition is not entirely known. It is known, however, that some of these molds were indeed placed into insulator production at Lynchburg.

Insulators:

          The production of insulators began in November of 1923. The Company’s marketing slogan, “Supreme Where Quality Counts”, was a direct reflection of J. William Gayner and what he brought with him from Gayner Glass Works. Lynchburg marketed their insulators aggressively, and by the following year, many large shipments were being sent abroad. Lynchburg insulators have been found in such far-away places as: Newfoundland, Canada, South America, the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Philippines and Australia! Domestic shipments were aided by their close proximity to the railroad. The three railroads leading out of Lynchburg in the 1920’s were the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, the Norfolk & Western Railway, and the Southern Railway; thus large amounts of products could be widely dispersed, and shipping rates to customers would be more competitive.

          The majority of insulators produced at Lynchburg Glass Corporation are of an aqua hue. Some of the more sought after colors would include: greens, true blue, pink tints and milky aqua. Characteristic colors of early 1925, close to the end of production include: straw, ginger ale, pink tints, and green. Many of the embossings that are found on Lynchburg insulators tends to be very crude. During the post WW1 era, skilled labor in the manufacturing sector was very hard to come by. It is apparent that at least some of the factory workers at the Lynchburg Glass Coorporation had minimal education and did not understand the “mirror image” principle that must be applied when preparing any type of mold or die. Because of this, collectors can now find many insulators with misspellings, backwards letters and even embossing that look to have been handwritten. The most common embossing format that appears on Lynchburg insulators is the word “LYNCHBURG” with the “L – in – an – Oval” company logo positioned either above or below it on the front skirt. In some instances the “L – in – an – Oval” can be found on the dome. On others, it is omitted altogether. On the rear skirt one will typically find the style number, which varies according to the design or shape of the insulator, followed by “MADE IN U.S.A.”. Some insulators have been found that lack embossing and/or the Lynchburg name altogether. These are still distinguishable as having ties to Lynchburg Glass Corporation. The characteristic straw/ginger ale colors that the “No Name” CD 154’s are found in, as well as the style number 36-19 on the No Name CD 162’s, are examples, among others.

Fruit Jars:

          Besides insulators, Lynchburg Glass Corporation also produced mason jars, or fruit jars. These came in half-gallon, quart and pint sizes. Most likely these jars were produced during a lull in insulator production.

Bottles:

          Some of the products produced at Lynchburg Glass Corporation that are the most difficult to locate are the various type of bottles. Some collectors/historians tend to believe all bottles were made at Lynchburg Glass Works, not Lynchburg Glass Corporation, however Lynchburg Glass Corporation is known to have had six bottle blowing machines on their premises. Some of the bottles found that have the “LBG” markings include: Chero Cola, Coca Cola and Coca Cola Soda Water which was used for flavored drinks such as Orange, Grape. Medicine bottles with “LBG” on the heel have also been found. Also, several Sparkletts Spring Water decanter bottles are known to exist, each having an “L – in – an – Oval” logo, but there has been much discussion as to where these bottles were actually produced.

The Beginning of the End:

          During the first twelve weeks of production, demand steadily increased and on average Lynchburg was turning out 150,000 insulators per week. However, the company was far from thriving. Due to high production costs and poor glass quality, the new state of the art facility was struggling to show a profit. During the first week in April 1924, after only sixteen weeks of operation, production was halted. Then in November 1924, after an attempt at reorganizing, the plant resumed day to day operations. Glass quality continued to deteriorate, nonetheless, and, in some instances, an entire production run would have to be discarded. Profitability continued to decline, and at the end of May 1925, the plant closed its doors once more while attempting to reorganize. These efforts were unsuccessful, and production was never resumed.

The End:

          After only 44 weeks of production, not a single insulator, mason jar, nor bottle would ever be made again at Lynchburg Glass Corporation. The plant fell silent, the furnace went cold, and workers were unemployed. A short time later the entire complex would be bulldozed. During demolition, an improperly installed valve on a gas line to the main furnace was discovered. This resulted in improper heating of the glass furnace, thus leading to the poor glass quality and ultimately the demise of Lynchburg Glass Corporation.

 

Bibliography:

McDougald, John and Carol McDougald. A History and Guide To North American Pin Type Insulators. 1990.

Marion Milholland and Evelyn Milholland. Milholland’s Bicentennial Edition; Most About Glass Insulators Fourth Revision. Washington: Ben Print Inc, 1983.

McDougald, John and Carol McDougald. A History and Guide To North American Pin Type Insulators Price Guide. Arizona: The McDougalds, 2003.

Dennis Bratcher. “Varieties of Lynchburg Glass, Part 1.” Crown Jewels of the Wire Apr. 1986: 11.

Dennis Bratcher. “Varieties of Lynchburg Glass, Part 2.” Crown Jewels of the Wire Aug. 1986: 27.

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