Posted by Jeffrey on 10/11/2013
The art of glass blowing can be traced all the way back over 2,000 years, to the ancient civilization of Phoenicia. The earliest glass-blown relics on record include very small tubes and bottles. Like many of the crafts, it had its origins in functionality before branching off into the artistic. The art of hand-blowing glass caught like wildfire, with the Roman Empire incorporating this new craft into their society, and carrying it with them as the Empire spread across Europe and Africa. Once it made its way to Egypt, the art of glass-blowing had expanded greatly into the upper echelons of society, both as useable tools and as artistic decoration. Many of the first experiments in using different substances, heating and cooling techniques to improve the quality of the glassware was performed during these early times. The raw materials became more refined, as did the techniques used to create the glass.
By the time the Roman Empire withered on the vine, glass making and glass blowing was a naturally accepted aspect of modern society, at least as modern as it could get for the Middle Ages. The commonplace element of glass led to global expansion, with the art taking hold in Asia and all other developed regions of the planet. As humanity began covering the world in glass, the forms the glass took started diversifying rapidly, as people found new applications and usages in their daily world and in the world of industry. As the art of glass blowing evolved, the clarity improved and so did the cost-effectiveness of glass as a mass-produced material. Once the scientists got a hold of of glass and determined some of the unique conductivity properties provided by glass, it basically wrapped a bow on glass' place in the post-revolutionary world. By the 19th century, if you were a craftsman, and you could create a high quality glass product, you did a lot of business.
Edward Libbey opened up a small shop called, simply enough, the "Libbey Glass Company" in 1888. The shop manufactured glass jars, drinking glasses, plate windows and many other product lines. As the company's reputation grew, so did the company, eventially becoming one of the most recognized names in the glassware industry. In the early 1920's, Libbey answered the concern over chipped edges on glass dishware by introducing the "Safedge" Glassware, which incorporated a glass beaded ring around the edge to prevent chipping. With Libbey's experience in the world of glass, it's no surprise that their products are still the model of durable, functional and beautiful glass homeware products. The product lines have come a long way from the earliest jars with the eagle emblem and the "Libbey Cut Glass Toledo, Ohio" etched on them, but every item they create is a homage to their past, and the traditions of those early glass blowing artisans.