Stiegels Manheim Pennsylvania American Flint Glass Manufactory 1768-1774
The success at the Elizabeth Iron foundry and the small glass factory made the building of the new glass factory in Manheim much easier. It was quite evident to Stiegel that Mahheim could not grow without the glass works. Consequently between the years 1765 and 1768 he erected a glass factory on the northwest corner of Stiegel and Charlotte streets. This factory was so large that a four-horse team could easily turn around in it and come out at the place of entrance. (It was built of the same imported brick, ninety feet high, in the shape of a dome) . The manufacture of glass was commenced In the latter part of the year 1768. (Early in this year he gave a mortgage on his one-third of all the properties of the company, 14,078 acres of land, for 93,000 to Daniel Benezet).
Skilled work-men were brought from England and Bohemia to blow glass in the new Factory. In 1769 the factory was run to its fullest capacity, employing thirty- five men. A very interesting agreement with a decorator can be seen in Mr. Danner's relic room. The stipulations are that he shall do first- class work in hand painting and receive 40 lbs.silver Spanish milled coins yearly, and firewood for said services. The products of this factory were vases, sugar and finger bowls, salts, flasks, pitchers, tumblers, wine glasses of every imaginable shape; toys and scores of other articles were manufactured in various colors and hand painted. Much of this superior glassware is still in existence, and quite a large part of it is in the hands of relic hunters. This ware has a characteristic ring that puts all imitations and impostors to shame. August 4, 1769, the Stedmans sold their interest in the 769 acres upon which the town of Manheim stands to Isaac Cox, who on February 1, 1770, sold the same to the Baron for 107 lbs.silver and ten shillings. This gave him the sale ownership of Manheim.
Stiegel finally moved his family from Elizabeth Furnace to the stately mansion already described, which he had completed five years before. At this time, 1769 and 1770, Stiegel was considered one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Pennsylvania. He had invested all of the 40,000 lbs of silver which he bad brought with him from the old country in tracts of land in many parts of the State under the title of the Stiegel Company. He had 200 to 300 men employed; Elizabeth Furnace was in a flourishing condition. Stoves were sent out to all parts of the inhabited country. The other furnaces and forges in which Stiegel had an interest, as well as the glass factory, were run to their greatest capacity, the glassware was carried into the markets of Boston, Philadelphia and New York. All was not well for Stiegel though as the war with England was soon to break out which strained his ability to due business in the city's of New York and Philadelphia and in the ensuing years he would go on to lose his entire fortune to bankruptcy. Stiegel begged his influential friends for needed cash to pay his creditors to no avail. He would spend time in debtors prison like so many other famous influential American business men including the likes of Samuel Morris financier of the American Revolution ,and fellow glass manufacturer T W Dyott of Philadelphia.
Stiegel milk glass enameled British soldier 1772-1773
The one ethnic group in early colonial times that supported the British Crown more so then the direct descendants from England before, during and even sometimes after the Revolutionary war were the Germans who had first come to America as refugees fleeing their home country do to religious persecution inflicted upon them.Their passage to this country was always from the Palatinate to England first.Upon departing from England they would sail into Philadelphia where they were accounted for and sent to other German masters scattered in the Mid Atlantic and the Boston area in New England. The largest area in the colonies with German settlers was Eastern Pennsylvania.From the Pocono Mountains in the north to the lower Susquehanna river valley to the south Germans settled in large numbers.Caspar Wistar the glass maker and button maker from Philadelphia in the mid 1720s right on through 1740 sold more land to German settlers then any one person or entity.The Germans were very supportive of the British crown simply because the British helped them leave their homes in the German Palatinate and to start anew in the colonies.Most of the German immigrants were hard workers who made it in the new country through mostly hard work but also through the network established by very prominent Germans such as Caspar Wistar.
After the French and Indian war took its toll financially on both Great Britain and the Colonies The British Crown sent troops into the colonies to protect them from the French and Indians.This was seen in two very different lights by the colonists.Great Britain had a legitimate concern regarding protecting the citizenry from raids by the French and the Indians but also used the army to control unrest that was growing because of of the ever increasing tax burden placed upon the people. In 1767 the British imposed a tariff on all durable goods imported into the colonies and they were known as the Townshend Acts.The purpose was to raise revenue in the colonies to furnish the salaries of Colony governors and judges so they would be independent of colonial rule, to create a more effective means of enforcing compliance with trade regulations, to punish the province of New York for failing to comply with the 1765 Quartering Act, and to establish the precedent that the British Parliament had the right to tax the colonies. The Townshend Acts were met with resistance in the colonies, prompting the occupation of Boston by British troops in 1768, which eventually resulted in the Boston Massacre of 1770.It also helped to spur home based manufacturing by the colonists and this is one of the reasons Stiegel profited early from the situation.As a result of the massacre in Boston, Parliament began to consider a motion to partially repeal the Townshend duties. Most of the new taxes were repealed, but the tax on tea was retained. The British government continued in its attempt to tax the colonists without their consent, however, and the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution soon followed.The growing unrest continued to expand as more examples of British tyranny were repeating themselves through out the colonies.
The American Revolution was inevitable............
This bottle I acquired is made of milk glass and was manufactured in the half post method of two gathers of glass.The bottle has an English Army officer holding a pistol in his right hand firing a shot upwards as smoke is painted above his hand.The officer also has a sword attached to his belt in a black holder.Because of the gold tassel's hanging down on each side of the head I have determined that the person depicted was an officer and not a regular infantryman.The soldier is British no doubt as this was the uniform type worn in the mid 1760s.When I asked my 8 year old nephew who he thought was on the bottle he immediately said George Washington which makes sense because the clothes worn by the colonists were similar to the British attire.This bright red jacket however is the trade mark of the British Army.
The rest of the bottle is decorated in the typical Stiegel German peasant Pennsylvanian decor consisting of flowers and plants.There is a rough pontil mark on the bottom and a threaded pewter cap on top.The bottle also has a strong scent of whatever type of perfume or smelling salts were in the bottle.The Bottle is in excellent shape for one that is over 238 years of age. I now have over 40 pieces of this type of glass of which at least 25 of them were painted with the same hand Sebastian Witmer one of Stiegels enamelers.I believe since the person depicted is a British soldier then this bottle was made in America by Stiegels factory in the 1772-1773 time period as this is when Stiegel advertised that painted decanters and toiletry bottles could be had.In addition I don't think these would have been popular a couple of more years later as painted British soldiers probably wouldn't have sold so well during the revolutionary war.
William Frederick Hunter did the most extensive study on Stiegel and his glass works then any before or after him since.Some historians led by George Heiges embellished their own versions of what Hunter and his Brother-inlaw James Kerfoot researched and supposedly said.Legend has it that the following took place...In his book George Heiges says the following..............When the late Frederick W. Hunter undertook to assemble his famous collection of Stiegel glass which is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art,he undertook an exhaustive study in the Pennsylvania counties of Berks,Lancaster and Lebanon,of collections which had been handed down from generation to generation.He then extended his research by making a series of excavations on the site of the old glasshouse at Manheim,and by searching through the Stiegel account books for information as to patterns,Mr. Hunter must have rather definitely believed that he really knew Stiegel glass after all his delving,for when in 1914 the book Stiegel Glass appeared under his authorship158 illustrations of glass were labeled STIEGEL without any qualifying or doubting statements.However,as an indication that even Mr. Hunter and his brother-in-law John B. Kerfoot who was largely responsible for the preparation of the book had some doubts as to the authenticity of the pieces illustrated,we repeat here what Mr. Kerfoot said to George S. Mckearin,glass specialist of this day.On a certain occasion,Mr. Mckearin asked Mr. Kerfoot whether he and Mr. Hunter had any definite or incontrovertible evidence that any of the specimens illustrated in their book were Stiegel, and Mr. Kerfoot answered NOT ONE .......................Really!!! the two men spend 5 years researching and digging on lots of land connected to the glass factory do hundreds of hours research and Kerfoot simply says NOT ONE.
I think someone needs to research Mr. Heiges a little more closely here as I am in the camp that the conversation never took place between Mckearin and Mr. Kerfoot. Also lets not forget the year 1914 when his book was completed to the 1765 to 1773 time period of Stiegels glass operation is only a mere 141 to 148 years or just 7 generations.The German families he interviewed about the glass in their own collections to the residents of Manheim he interviewed regarding any historical data they might be familiar with regarding the factory's had to have been pretty sound as people from this time period were very keen about their family's heritage and their town of Manheim and its history .Lastly Hunter spent the better part of 5 years compiling the information in his book. Why would would his brother-in law Mr. Kerfoot after Hunter died tell George Mckearin noted glass historian of the day simply none of the glass can be authenticated.To me this makes no sense.The collection of Stiegel glass from Frederick William Hunter s collection was donated to the Metropolitain Museum of Art by Mr.Hunter. Below are pictures of the bottle and of German peasants and German Army officers wearing period clothing ( Mid 1700s) in Germany none of which emulate the style seen on this flask .
Stiegel enamled large tumbler with a British General riding his horse.
When Hunter gathered his glass collection for publication in his book it was considered gospel to be authentic Stiegel glass. Through time however it has been determined some of the collection and the emphasis is on the word SOME has been proven to be of a later American glass making period. One area which made up a sizable amount of his collection was the poly chrome enameling seen on presentation bottles,tumblers mugs and other tableware. Again glass historians attacked his work and simply wrote off the Stiegel type painted glassware in his collection was really manufactured in Germany.
While it is true German Artisans were also making similar types of glass ware it should be noted that the scenery,symbols,and other decors seen on the German ware when compared to the American Stiegel made ware was really quite different in color,depiction and style of the glass object in question. Below is a large 7 inches tall presentation tumbler in my collection from the George Ege collection depicting a Colonial General riding his horse with his sword extended above his head an image portrayed countless times on paintings from the American Revolutionary war . During the American Revolution there were three armies doing battle. The Americans which most of the time did not have an official uniform due to cost and the timeliness for battle on a moments notice were a rag tag bunch more concerned about winning battles then looking the part. There counterparts the British Royal Army was very well decked out in professional uniforms and a key ally that the British had hired to win the war were the Hessian Soldiers,who had a reputation as fierce fighters hired the world over.
Were the Stiegel artisans who painted these bottles British sympathizers,they could very well had been so for it was the British crown that most of the German citizenry were loyal to not the American cause. A misconception a lot of us have held myself included about the revolutionary war was that it was a completely unified cause against the crown. Nothing however could be further from the truth as long time families who had prospered under British rule were frightened by the rebels and were helping them financially secretly the entire time. The Stiegel glass factory when it closed in 1774 was not just a victim of a bad economic environment the Country was on the cusp of open war with Great Britain and most business's suffered because of it. At first I struggled trying to figure out why would an artist working for Stiegel paint a British General on a bottle before the war for Independence had even started. Furthermore Stiegels works were closed and no other glass works in the Colonies for that matter were doing well enough let alone having artists painting tumblers and other glassware.
Then it hit me The French and Indian war 1754-1763 fought in The United States between Great Britain and France would have been a perfectly good reason to paint one of these presentation pieces between 1771 and 1772 when Stiegels works were at their peak and he was advertising his wares including enameled products. This large tumbler came from an Ege Family estate sale near Manheim and I believe it is an Authentic Stiegel attributable piece. It is in remarkable shape and has very little paint wear or other defects in the glass.The rest of the tumbler is adorned with the usual Pennsylvania German decor of Pomegranates,Roses and white swirled border banding. The color scheme is as it is always seen on these pieces from this era. There is no doubt in my mind as to what the scene on the tumbler depicts. It is not a country scene from the low country back home in the German Palatinate,it is a British Army General who did his country proud most likely in the French and Indian war.