About the Origin of Glass Making.
One of the most valuable and important industries in this country, as well as in others, is the art of making glass. The enumeration of all the uses to which this commodity may be and is applied would be a task that few would care to be responsible for, but let it suffice to say that it is impossible to turn at any time without seeing it performing one of its silent duties. Probably the earliest practical discoverers and its manufacture were the Egyptians, which fact is proven not only by the pictures of glass blowers occurring upon some of the old tombs in that section, but by the article itself as found in various forms in old excavations.
Three bundled and seventy years B. C. was practiced the art of cutting, grinding, gilding and coloring glass, pieces of lenses, bottles, vases, etc., having been found in various parts of Italy. No glass windows were in use at this time. Abbott Benedict introduced the first glass windows to England in the year 674. During the thirteenth century the Venetian glass makers enjoyed a reputation equalling that of to-day. Salem, Mass., is supposed to be the location of the first glass factory in the United States, being at what is even now known as Glasshouse Field. This plant was the property of one Ananias Conklin. Jamestown, Va., had a glass factory in 1746, and Germantown, Mass., one in 1750, but Robert Hewes established the first glass plant in this country of which any actual history exists. He was a Boston man, but the factory was located at Temple, N. H., in the year 1790.
All the uses to which glass maybe put would be nearly impossible to tell, as every day we hear of something entirely new. For instance, a German concern is understood to be experimenting with a view to producing glass sufficiently strong and flexible for such uses as railroad ties and sleepers, car wheels, etc. Very few people have but a vague idea of the immense quantity of glass consumed in the manufacture of window-panes in this country alone, but for several years past insurance companies have been paying over a half million dollars annually in premiums, representing about $23,000,000, This of course includes only those who insure their windows at all, or only partially do so. but the fact shows that were the industry taken from the United States it would be likely to leave quite a void in the financial, to say nothing of the industrial, position of the country.
The orders on hand by the various glass manufacturers of other countries for plate, mirror and sheet glass alone for the current year exceed 89,000,000 square feet, all of which amount will be exported to America, to be used for windows, mirrors, ceilings, to be colored for various purposes, to be used as skylights and a host of other uses. A fact that may be added is that the first plate glass mill ever established in America is located at what is now known as New Albany, Ind., and it is still in operation.