Snuff Attributed to Pitkin Multi Sided
Snuff Attributed to Pitkin
Pitkin Family Glassworks, East Hartford, Connecticut
Yollow Olive Multi-Sided Snuff
Provenance: Richard S. Ciralli Collection
This small misshaped yellow-olive bottle most likely contained snuff and was acquired at one of the Saratoga antique bottle shows a number of years ago. Multi-sided bottles of this type were likely blown at several New England glasshouses in the early 19th century and there is archeological evidence that some were blown at the Pitkin Glass Works. This pontiled piece is attributed to Pitkin Glass Works as similar base shards have been excavated that match up perfectly to the bottle. The multi-sided bottle is 4 1/8″ tall and is approximately 2″ wide. The mouth is sheared and has a fire-polished lip. It was blown with the aid of a small dip mold. The condition, color, and character are excellent.
In 1783, the Connecticut General Assembly granted William Pitkin and his family members a 25-year monopoly and exclusive rights with manufacturing all types of glass as compensation for their loss in providing gun powder from 1775 to 1781 to the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.
The Pitkin family was large, well-known, and influential, with many land holdings in pre-and-post revolutionary Connecticut with business interests in guns, gunpowder, textiles, flour, iron, silver, tobacco, and snuff. The initial glass factory was established when the area was still considered part of East Hartford and was referred to as the East Hartford Glass Works when it first started production in 1787 or so.
Manchester, in Hartford County, is located in north-central Connecticut. First known as Five Mile Track, and later as Orford, or Charlotte, it was settled in 1672 and incorporated from East Hartford in 1823. The Hockanum River provided the waterpower that made it an early textile manufacturing center and home to Cheney Brothers Mills, the world’s largest silk factory complex, which provided Manchester with its nickname, the “Silk City.” An early industrial town, Manchester produced everything from paper to repeating rifles and glass.
By 1823, the Pitkin family glassworks was considered the first successful glass factory in Connecticut. Two Pitkin superintendents and managers were Robert Hewes from the Temple glassworks in New Hampshire and John P. Foster, whose initials are embossed and appear on an inkwell and a figured flask, the GII-57 “J.P.F” Eagle – Cornucopia “Conn.” flask which is represented in the museum historical flask gallery.
Pitkin Glass Works was considered a bottle glasshouse. Commercial products were blown, such as chestnuts, demijohns, utilities, snuffs, globular bottles, and tableware like pitchers and creamers, bowls, and pans. The most popular and recognizable wares were the inkwells and molded flasks blown in the german half-post method consisting of ribs and swirls. The figured flasks and sunburst flasks are prized by collectors and include extreme rarities.
Pitkin Glass Works colors are yellow-amber, olive-amber, olive-yellow, yellow-olive, olive-green, yellow-green, and a bluish to deep green. These colors represented New England’s “earthy” tones and were carried on in future Connecticut glasshouses.
See the museum example of a GVII-5a Sunburst Flask attributed to Pitkin Glass Works
The Pitkin Glass Works soon ran into financial difficulties. Two lotteries were held to raise additional funds, but the endeavor finally closed its doors in 1830. It is not known why the factory failed. Perhaps it was because of the cost of transporting sand from New Jersey or because the firewood supply was decreasing with the growth of farming in the area. There may have been poor management or increasing competition from other factories once the monopoly expired. Gradually, the massive stone building fell into disrepair.
The site containing the romantic ruins of the glassworks is owned and managed by Pitkin Glass Works Inc., and excavations are conducted there from time to time. Some examples of Pitkin glass are on display at the Old Manchester Museum in Manchester, Connecticut.
Primary Image: The Pitkin Attributed Snuff imaged on location by the FOHBC Virtual Museum Midwest studio led by Alan DeMaison.
Support: Reference to the Manchester Historical Society
Support: Reference to The Museum of Connecticut Glass
Support: Reference to American Bottles and Flasks and Their Ancestry by Helen McKearin and Kenneth M. Wilson, Crown Publishers Inc., New York, 1978
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