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This site was created to further knowledge of the beautiful art glass produced in the 1920's by the Imperial Glass Company* of Bellaire, Ohio. Although other art glass** was produced by Imperial earlier in its history, this effort will concentrate on the last and the best, Lead Lustre and Free Hand, respectively.
* Section XV in some small way attempts to recognize and remember
the people of the Imperial Glass Company and the vast array of "other glass"
they made. More detailed information is available at the NIGCS website, also accessible in Section XV.
** A brief discussion of Imperial's Art Glass Line (aka Imperial Jewels) and the
This still growing site (established in August 2009) currently contains 307 examples of Free Hand and 216 examples of Lead Lustre. This totals 523 different examples and is the largest assemblage of Free Hand and Lead Lustre photos anywhere, whether it be on the Internet or in a book, e.g. The Imperial Glass Encyclopedia has 84 color photos. This resource is organized to promote ease of understanding and quick reference. Additionally, being able to see so many examples provides a greater understanding of the range and diversity of Imperial Art Glass and helps the buyer's decision-making in building a collection.
For return visitors, the latest Free Hand photos can be quickly found in "Recent Photos" (as well as within the appropriate Gallery location).
Knowledge of Imperial's Free Hand & Lead Lustre is being shared freely, hoping that visitors will help improve the site with additional information, suggestions, photos and corrections as needed. I welcome all input.
I used the following references plus forty years of personal
collecting experience in this effort:
- Imperial Glass by Richard & Wilma Ross, the 1971 pioneering effort.
- Imperial Glass by Margaret & Douglas Archer, 1978.
- Volume II of the Imperial Glass Encyclopedia, edited by James Measell, 1997.
- The October 1998 issue of the "Glasszette", a publication of the National Imperial Glass Collector's Society.
- Glass Threads by the Museum of American Glass, Gay LeCleire Taylor, 2004.
- Information available at the National Imperial Glass Collector's Society's website.
I want to acknowledge here the many contributions of Wayne and Pamela Balash.
Since this website was established in August 2009, they have become my partners
in this effort. Their advice, enthusiasm and many hours spent providing photos from their extensive collection have had a significant positive impact on the development of this site. On behalf of all Imperial Free Hand collectors everywhere . . . thank you.
Also invaluable is the ongoing support of my wife Mary Ann as well as conversations with Richard Ross, Doug Archer, and Joan Cimini.
All credit goes to the above; any errors are my responsibility.
Finally, this is a picture of my mother and father taken more than three decades ago, set up at a Sunday
flea market in the Imperial factory's basement in Bellaire, Ohio. Always remember that collecting is
about so much more than the objects. It's about the learning, the camaraderie, the sharing and for
me . . . . . the memories.
Copyright © 2009 Ernie Albanese
All Rights Reserved