Great Western Glass Ball Manufacturing Co.

Provenance: Ex: Ralph Finch Collection, American Glass Gallery

Here is an excellent example of an embossed, extremely rare ‘GREAT WESTERN GLASS BALL MANUFACTURING COMPANY PITTSBURGH PA.’ target ball. It is embossed on both faces and the base. This 2-5/8″ diameter, light golden amber, 3-piece mold example is perfect and has a sheared mouth. It could be unique.

From around 1876 to 1885, glass balls were made for target shooting for sport and exhibitions at Wild West shows, circuses, and other events. Birds and particularly pigeons were used previously.

In December 2013, this same ball was sold by Glass Works Auctions in their 100th auction to the museum consigner. “It was the best ball in the Ralph Lindsay collection. We will be offering the second part of the Lindsay collection on our winter of 2014 auction,” said Jim Hagenbuch.

The target ball was likely blown to appeal to pioneer and western settlers who were part of the expansion of our western frontier. The name “Great Western” was a common name in transportation at that time and was used on steamships and railroad locomotives.

It is quite possible that this ball was made by the J. H. Johnston Great Western Gun Works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We have two examples of their balls in the Target Ball Gallery.

As an aside, the copy “The Great Western” is embossed on the pint GX-30 historical flask that was probably midwestern made. On the face of the flask is an embossed trapper with a beard dressed in a buckskin suit and wearing a broad-brimmed hat with a gun and knife. The reverse has an embossed buck with large antlers.

Support: Read What are target balls? I’m glad you asked! by Ralph Finch

Support Primary Image: Auction Lot 553: “GREAT WESTERN / GLASS BALL – MANUFACTURING / COMPANY – PITTSBURGH, PA.” Target Ball, 1875 – 1900. Light to medium golden amber, 3-piece mold, rough sheared mouth, dia. 2 5/8”, perfect. Heavily embossed, nice color, outstanding condition. Note, “The Great Western” is also embossed on the GX-30 Historical Flask, and likely blown to appeal to pioneers and the expansion of the western frontier. An exceptional, and likely unique, target ball. – American Glass Gallery, The Ralph Finch Collection of Target Balls, Traps and Shooting Ephemera, An Absentee Auction in Six Parts – 2017-2019

Support Secondary Image: “GREAT WESTERN / GLASS BALL – MANUFACTURING / COMPANY – PITTSBURGH, PA.” Target Ball, Jim Hagenbuch, Glass Works Auctions | Auction #100

Support: Reference to American Glass Gallery, The Ralph Finch Collection of Target Balls, Traps and Shooting Ephemera, An Absentee Auction in Six Parts – 2017-2019

Support Image: Auction Lot 117: “The Great Western” and Full Figure of Trapper – Stag Historical Flask, America, 1860-1880. Aquamarine, applied mouth with ring – smooth base, pint; (some interior stain, heaviest in the lower portions of the base). GX-30 Rare, strongly embossed. Would respond well to a professional cleaning. – Norman Heckler, Norman C. Heckler & Company

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