In the town of Stoddard New Hampshire,which is located in the Southwestern part of the state,a glass factory was built by Joseph Foster in the year 1842.Foster was an expert journeyman glass blower who worked for Justus Perry and Perry Wheeler at the Keene New Hampshire Marlboro Street glass works from the late 1820s through the 1830s and was a partner in the glass manufacturing firm at the same Marlboro Street location with J B Leonard and Company. When this partnership was dissolved on March 8th 1842 Foster moved to Stoddard. He had purchased much of the glass manufacturing tools and molds from the other partners in his previous firm at the Keene works. Owning over 80 acres in an area about two miles south of Stoddard all the necessary components were in place to begin the manufacture of glass. He was now ready to start anew and build his own factory but lacked the monetary means to do so on his own. He mortgaged some of his land as collateral and somehow he was able to build the factory early in april of 1842. The first blast was in November of that year. This was the first glass furnace in Stoddard and was located in the Southern most part of the town according to his relative John Morrill Foster in his book "Old Bottle Foster"just west of the Gilson Tavern in an area known as the box.
It has been theorized that Foster was making the same flasks he was at Keene because he had purchased the bottle molds from those works. The Stoddard factory molds, such as the Cornucopia/ Urn , Eagle/ Cornucopia,and Success to the Railroad flasks,look quite similar to the Keene flasks with small varying differences such as an X below the Cornucopia and the word Keene erased in the medallions on the Eagle side of the pint and half pint Railroad and Cornucopia flasks.When comparing the various Cornucopia flasks it is easy to see the work of one mold shop,one artist making them and just a small handful of Glass factories in New England manufacturing them. But it seems from ads placed one month after the factory went into blast Foster filed for bankruptcy. He never got to use the molds and other factory equipment he brought from Keene for very long because he would lose it all on April 19th 1843. If he was blowing historical flasks it was for a very short time 3 month at best.The ads pictured below tell the story of how difficult it was to run and maintain a glass business in the 1800s. March 8th 1842 Keene New Hampshire..........
In the short few months between the partnership with Leonard and Hilt being dissolved Foster went to Stoddard and built his factory . Creditors were calling for him to make payments for materials and labor he had used in the construction of the factory. This burdensome construction cost of the factory along with paying the help brought the business to its knees . In less then one month he was out of cash. He had poured everything he owned into building the glass factory but it wasn't enough as one month after the factory went into blast he was filing for personal bankruptcy.
Foster had but a precious two months to make some kind of money with his new factory but he never did. With no money to operate the factory and pay the help Foster shut down the furnace and awaited his fate.He did not have to wait very long for on Wednesday April 19th the following occurred...........
Foster now penniless but with a clean monetary slate knew a glass factory could be profitable in Stoddard. His small 4 pot furnace sat idle on property he had lost in the bankruptcy judgement but Foster knew he could make a second go in the glass business. He did still own about 200 acres of property about a quarter mile North and east of his short lived factory. It was enough for a second factory to be built. He went to Keene to seek financial help and he was able to secure the services for a large mortgage against his land holdings from a very wealthy businessman who was a French Hugenot named Ruel Nims. The first mortgage was 1500.00 payable in two years April 1st 1846 and April 1st 1847. Additionally he was able to secure the help of a glass worker in Keene named Isaac Duncan and made him his new business partner in the new glass factory business. He purchased a wooded lot near the factyory and gave a 750.00 note payable in two 350.00 increments in two years. The new factory was built just 400 yards north of the first factory he had built. According to John Morrill Foster in his book Old Bottle Foster Joseph Fosters son George H Foster kept a diary at the beginning of the factory.The factory began to heat the furnace's for the first time on June 12th 1847, and the first glass blown was on June 14th.
According to excerpts from the diary just prior to the factorys first blow, the weeks prior to the factory opening for business were very busy ones for he wrote on May 25th the following..... Father (Joseph),Henry and I started for Charleston New Hampshire to cut willow,wading in water up to our knees. He wrote again on May 27 this work continued for several days there after. On June 4th he writes The willow was hauled from Charlestown was peeled and ready to use"for wickering bottles and demi-johns. Additionally on June 4th George tore down the material oven and built a new one which was 2 feet wider then the previous one. He also built "an oven in which to dry sand,at one end of the material oven .On June 5th Father ( Joseph) bought 2000 brick at 4.00 per thousand. On June 8th George laid brick on the material oven, while father went to Keene to hire some men but did not get any,only Edward Foley came to blow glass. On June 9th he writes... The cap to the material oven was laid and a fire put under it, in hope that it would stay under it for 4 weeks before going out.
The diary also states George Parker came to work at the factory. On June 12th Hiram Fairfield began burning materials and blowing commeneced at 3:00 A M on June 14th as stated heretofore. Father,Henry,Foley and me consist of the entire number of blowers" the diary reads, adding: Foley blowed six ounce inks while father,Henry and I made half pint porters. Worked until half past three and filled pots. On June 15th, he wrote began blowing at half past three A M. Made half pint porters as yesterday also Foley.Good Glass,got down at 4 this afternoon. On June 23rd he writes... Jack Johnson,Henry and myself made porters together. Thomas Johnson made half pint flasks.Father did not blow. The diary ends for the year 1847 but picks up again in 1848......
On January 24th 1848George writes, began to blow at five A M Good glass. I made Quart Wines. Henry made half pint porters. No mention of Joseph Foster is made of him blowing gl;ass at this time but undoubtedly he was still managing the works. No Diary entries are made between January 24th and June 11 1848 where an expense sheet covering one days expenses states that the factory was stopped on September 12th 1848 after said factory running from the 11th of June last, most of the time. It is taken for granted that this meant June 11th 1847. The last known record of the factory being in operation was June`2nd 1849 and this document states Money paid out to laborers Saturday June 2nd 1849. After this point in time Foster struggled to maintain the factory but simply had run out of operating capitol. Sadley the end for Fosters factory was near........
Business had been good for two years and he had increased the factory to an 8 pot furnace. Little had Foster known during this time at the end of 1846 while he was planning and building his second factory, a new problem was in store for him. This new problem was one Foster never gave any real concern or thought too and that was competition from another local Glass Factory just 3 miles to the north of his current factory. At first this new factory in Mill Village did not hurt Fosters and Duncans business for they themselves would weather a huge fire at their factory in 1847 but by the end of 1848 Calvin Curtice and Company the glass factory in Mill Village was doing quite well and had more capitol and acreage to work with then Foster and Duncan. By January of 1850 Foster and Duncan out of cash knew the end was near. Joseph Fosters sons George , Charles ,and Wallace had seen their fathers business dilema firsthand as they briefly worked for their father in the factory as young men wrapping wicker around bottles. They would avenge their fathers loss with a factory of their own but they too would see first hand just how difficult it was to keep a glass factory profitable. April 27th 1850 was a sad day for Joseph Foster he had a large young family to care for but he was about to receive the largest blow yet to his mental well being. He was about to lose everything he owned............
This was the end of Joseph Foster Glass Factory in Stoddard.The glass he made however lives on
Half pint Cornucopia /Urn in a known Color .
Mckearin charted GII-72 Eagle/Cornucopia flask
The following two Stoddard bottles come from the Steven Mello collection. Steve resides in California and will be a regular contributor to the site.Thanks again Steve great looking bottles.
The first bottle from Steve is a beautiful olive amber orange very typical of Stoddard Glass. The bottle has a flared top and rough pontil mark.
Next up from Steve's collection is a Stoddard Whiskey bottle. The color on this one is a nice orange amber again very typical of glass from Stoddard. Although this bottle could have been made at any of the Stoddard factories I am showing it here at the Foster Factory page because quite likely he made bottles just like this one. Steve was informed by Michael George renowned glass collector from New Hampshire that this bottle was definitely a product of a Stoddard glass factory.
From Steven Mellos Collection a light amber to butterscotch colored early Foster Snuff bottle .
Mckearin charted GII-82 pint Eagle/Eagle Stoddard New Hampshire