Industrial Waste from the Whitney Glass Works, Circa 1900: The Approaching End of Mouth-Blown Hollowware at Glassboro


  • Michael Bernstein


In 1920, The Owens Bottle Company stated that the Whitney Glass Works of Glassboro was “the oldest glass establishment in the United States still doing business.” In 1981 and 1982, the author collected artifacts from a deposit of waste attributed to the Whitney Glass Works, circa 1900. The waste was exposed during recutting of a drainage ditch along a railroad that had served the glassworks. The waste might have been used as fill, or the railroad might have been a convenient location for disposal. The collection includes defective mouth-blown bottles for products such as the famous Tabasco® sauce, vials, solid-glass bottles, stoppers, and lengths of a glass walking stick or punch-bowl stirring rod. Although the deposit contained cullet (glass residuum usually segregated for recycling), the presence of foreign objects (tools, wire mesh, and gloves) rendered the material a waste. These artifacts represent some of the last of the Whitney glassblowers’ production, shortly before the installation of bottle-blowing machines. The artifacts yield information regarding manufacturing processes, date of manufacture, customer identities and products, the geographic breadth of Whitney’s market, and the glassblowers’ artistry. The collection was donated to Rowan University in 2012.