You might find some glassware pieces that were designed and manufactured by Hazel-Atlas Glass Company while searching for antique glass. Is the company still around and making glass pieces, or have they gone out of business?
Hazel-Atlas Glass Company is not still in business. Seven years after becoming a division of the Continental Can Company, Hazel-Atlas Glass Company sold all of its glass plants except for one to Brockway Glass Company in 1964. The remaining glass plant was sold to A.H. Kerr Glass Company.
Hazel-Atlas Glass Company has an interesting history to learn about, starting with its opening in 1902 until it closed in 1964. Hazel-Atlas Glass Company also has many products that are being sold as antiques.
History of the Company
Hazel Glass Company and Atlas Glass Company were two small glass companies in Washington, Pennsylvania, started in 1887 and 1896 respectively. In 1902, the two companies were merged to form the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company. It was based in Wheeling, West Virginia when it was founded.
Hazel-Atlas Glass Company dodged the direct effects of the Prohibition on glass companies; many glass companies that made bottles for alcoholic beverages were forced to go out of business or begin producing new glass products. However, because these companies were starting to make other types of glass products, there was more competition. Hazel-Atlas Glass Company purchased several other glass plants in the early 1920s to keep up its business.
By 1930, Hazel-Atlas Glass Company owned fifteen glass container plants, which got them through the Great Depression with barely a scratch. The company produced much of the “Depression Glass” that is still floating around in the antique market.
Following the Great Depression, business boomed for the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company, and it became one of the largest glass manufacturing companies in the world. It had 14 glass plants operating in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Oklahoma, California, New York, Alabama, and Illinois. Hazel-Atlas Glass Company products were everywhere.
People would use them as dishes or leftover containers. They would also throw them in the garbage after finishing the ketchup, mayonnaise, or pickles inside. Hazel-Atlas Glass Company was the second largest glass manufacturer in the United States after Owens-Illinois Glass Company.
Most of the employees at Hazel-Atlas Glass Company were women. The corporate offices in particular were a good place to work for women with training in business. The workers in the factories worked on the presses or packing department. It was dirty and repetitive work.
Until the 1950s, when desegregation was required, there were no Black employees. Women were required to be unmarried until World War II, when the male employees who went to war had to be replaced. The working conditions were poor, but employees were loyal to the company.
Hazel-Atlas Glass Company was a big innovator in the glassware industry. The company was the first to use natural gas in glass production; produce mayonnaise, pickle, and baby food jars; and sell opal jars to medicinal packers.
The company patented the first machine to make jars and the first machine to press glass. This innovation is one of the reasons why the company was so large and profitable. It was only after they stopped innovating that the company started to go out of business.
In 1957, Hazel-Atlas Company was purchased by Continental Can Company and became one of its subsidiaries. This investment was problematic, as it was considered a violation of the Clayton Anti-Trust Act, which was used to stop companies from decreasing or eliminating competition, which would allow them to have control over a certain industry and drive up prices for their products. The acquisition was challenged in the court case United States v. Continental Can Co.
This court case was ultimately dismissed because the product markets of metal and glass containers were considered separate industries. However, this was the beginning of the end for Hazel-Atlas Glass Company. The anti-trust issues, combined with a failure to improve on research and development and a lack of innovation drove the company out of business in the early 60s.
In 1964, Continental Can Company sold all the glass plants except for one to Brockway Glass Company, which is still open today. The remaining glass plant, which was in Plainfield, Illinois, was sold to A.H. Kerr Glass Company. Hazel-Atlas Glass Company was gone.
Hazel-Atlas Glass Company created a variety of products. Some of the more mundane ones are canning jars, glass tumblers, bottles, and jars for food and ointments. Hazel-Atlas Glass Company also produced dishes, such as plates and cups.
Most of the glassware produced by Hazel-Atlas Glass Company was utilitarian, which means that they have a function instead of just being decorative. There are still some non-utilitarian, primarily decorative pieces, but they aren’t as prevalent.
Hazel-Atlas Glass Company produced glassware that was translucent and often tinted blue or green; it also produced white and opaque products with colorful designs. Its popular products were mostly kitchenware. For example, the company developed a line of kiddie ware, which were dishes with designs that would interest children, such as cute animals or depictions of nursery rhymes.
Hazel-Atlas Glass Company glassware sells as antiques. On eBay, the cheaper pieces can go for as low as $2, while the most expensive go for up to $1,500 depending on how rare the pieces are and what condition they are in. The cheaper pieces may be chipped or broken.
Hazel-Atlas glassware can be identified by a distinct mark that was put on its products. Many glass companies had marks to identify their glassware as part of their molds. These symbols are sort of like logos for the glass companies to display.
The mark of Hazel-Atlas glassware is an “H over A” symbol. It has an H with curved sides; the line in the middle is higher than halfway, and beneath it is an A, which is almost the same shape as the H, but with a line across the top identifying it as an A. This mark is sometimes incorrectly identified as the mark for Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation, but that company actually uses an anchor shape in their markings.