Ask About Antiques/H. C. Fry Glass: For Everyday and Special Occasions
by Budd A. Moore, Ed.D.
H. C. Fry Glass was established in 1901 by Henry Clay Fry (1840-1929) in Rochester, Pennsylvania. H.C.Fry was already 61 when he founded this company and had a lifetime of experience working, managing and owning other glassworks. He applied this knowledge to setting up the most modern and technically advanced glassworks in the USA, and together with his two sons they produced a wide range of high quality glass in large volumes. The company continued until the Great Depression and the death of Henry Clay Fry (in 1929) combined to cause its failure. It was closed by the receivers in 1933.
Cut Crystal Glass. Initially the company made crystal glass blanks for cutting by other companies, and their own high quality cut crystal. The quality of their glass and its high lead content resulted in some of the finest cut crystal ever made in the USA. Fry cut crystal glass was marked with an acid etched stamp - “Fry” in script, sometimes with other words such as “Fry Quality” and sometimes surrounded by a shield. It is both difficult to find and difficult to see, and sometimes was missing altogether. They continued to make cut crystal until the early 1920s, when the effects of prohibition, scarce materials, and increased popularity of silver as an alternative, made it unprofitable.
Etched Glass. Etched glass was also made by the H.C. Fry company from 1908 onwards, but this, so far as we know, was never marked with the company name or logo. They produced a series of beautiful patterns and were still announcing new designs as late as 1931.
Oven Glass and Kitchen Ware. Heat-resistant oven glass was made by this company from 1916 onwards, under license from the Corning Glass Company. Initially their oven ware was lime green colored, but in 1921 they introduced opalescent oven ware and kitchenware. This glass is always marked with the name “FRY” and other descriptive words, mold numbers, and/or patent numbers. Known mold numbers for Fry Kitchen and Oven Ware run from 1916 to 1976. Fry Kitchen Ware was produced in clear and colored glass as well as opalescent.
Fry Table Ware. Complete dinner sets and tea sets were produced, along with candlesticks and bowls for table decoration. They were offered in colored or opalescent or crystal glass and a range of decorations were applied. These included crackle effects, glass threading, colored lines, silver overlay, gold overlay or trim, enamel decoration, black or colored applied feet (sometimes petal shaped), and swirled knobs connecting up the stems. Tableware became an increasing important part of the company’s production in 1920s.
Fry Art Glass. In 1922, after the launch of its opalescent oven ware, the Fry Glass company used this high quality opalescent glass as the basis for an art glass line of products. They described the color as “translucent pearl” and gave the name “FOVAL” to their art glass range. The range included teapots, coffeepots, jugs, candlesticks, vases, compotes, bowls, cups, saucers, plates, goblets, etc. They were either plain opalescent glass, or had blue or green handles or feet or decorative trim added, and sometimes there were blue or green “pulled trail” looped decorations in the opalescent glass. Items were also sometimes decorated with silver overlay, some with gold trim or even gold overlay, and a few pieces were produced in jade green or delft blue.
Fry Art Glass was hand-blown and fire polished, with the pontils polished out. Some items such as lids were pressed. It was marked with foil labels “Fry Glass Company,” and never, so far as we know, with an etched or engraved mark.
If you are looking for something made by Fry Glass, you can usually find items on E-bay or you can visit one of the dealers who specialize in glass on the Internet.
Auction Action: [Recently sold at Matt Hurley’s Legacy Auction Center, 2800 Buchanan Trail East, Greencastle, Pa. 17225]
• 10pc mahogany Chippendale style dining room suite, $4574
• John Bell yellow ware mug with Bennington finish, $2200
• 8pc French bedroom suite, $2100
• 5pc wrought iron patio set, $625
• Ornate Victorian oak marble top table, $620
• Pair of opalescent barber bottles, $600
* 1835 Greencastle coverlet, $400.
Moore, Ed.D., is a specialist in the valuation of antique and collectable objects of the last 100 years. He is an educator, counselor, and avid antique enthusiast as well as a candidate member of the American Society of Appraisers. He has been a collector of antique American Art Pottery and has been a dealer for over 20 years. He is familiar with nearly all lines of American Art Pottery, twentieth century glassware, Art Deco, and Art Nouveau categories. If you have a question about antiques or collectibles, you can e-mail him at BUDD3420@comcast.net or drop him a letter at 8864 Lorford Drive, Chambersburg, PA 17201-9335. An answer to your question may appear in a subsequent column.