Glass fans continue celebration
July 31, 2005
By LAUREN SMITH
Parkersburg News, Parkersburg, WV
WILLIAMSTOWN - It's a story of poverty and fortune, hard work and
struggle. The Fenton family of Fenton Art Glass truly exemplifies
the American dream.
One hundred years ago, in 1905, Frank Leslie Fenton and his
brother John combined their meager funds, a little over $200, to
rent space in the Haskins Glass Company in Martins Ferry, Ohio,
where they would begin to paint decorations on glass blanks.
They soon discovered it would be more profitable to make their own
glass. In 1906, they began the construction of a factory in
Williamstown, W.Va. Today, Fenton Art Glass is the largest
manufacturer of handmade colored art glass in the United States
and has 450 employees. Its products are available for sale in more
than 4,500 retail shops across the nation.
On Saturday, the celebration of Fenton's 100-year anniversary
continued with entertainment, food, arts and crafts and, of
Glass enthusiasts and collectors gathered under the large tents in
the factory parking lot to admire and purchase the famed art
Janet Stephens of Burton, Ohio, bought six Fenton bags filled with
art glass Saturday.
"I've been collecting on and off for about 10 years, but I
received my first Fenton piece about 32 years ago as a gift," she
Stephens, along with many other collectors, purchased the special
edition anniversary pieces for sale this year.
"With the 100-year marking, I'm hoping these pieces will prove to
be more valuable," said Stephens.
The Centennial Celebration Exclusive is a Mandarin Red Sherbet
glass. The mould was designed by company founder Frank L. Fenton
during the 1930s. The piece is only available on the grounds at
Fenton during the Centennial Celebration.
Fenton enthusiast Lynn Curley purchased two Fenton pieces at the
factory store on Saturday. Curley and her husband traveled to the
celebration from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
"This is the very first piece of Fenton that I've bought for
myself. I've received several as Christmas gifts though. My
mother-in-law is a Fenton fanatic. She has a room full of Fenton,"
Throughout the generations, Fenton glass has remained popular.
Often, Fenton pieces serve at heirlooms in families, with glass
handed down to the next generation.
"My mother collected Fenton," said Angie Gould of Columbus, Ohio.
"When she died, she handed down her pieces to me and I'm
continuing the tradition."
Saturday's festivities included a family signing event with Mike
Fenton and Fenton Family guided tours. Another feature was the "eBay
university" information session which gave collectors a chance to
learn about the popular web site which often has Fenton sellers
Today's main attraction will be the Fenton 100th Anniversary
Auction at Fenton Court on the Marietta College campus from 6-9
"When my grandfather and his brother started Fenton Art Glass at
the turn of the last century, it was their desire to enhance the
glass making industry," said company president George Fenton in a
July 1 press release. "That mission and dedication to quality
workmanship has carried through to the present day where we have
multiple generations working together to produce high quality
decorative glass in the tradition my grandfather started."
[PHOTO CAPTION ABOVE]
Dave Fetty prepares to make his mark on the bottom of a piece of
Fenton glass created by him during a demonstration at the Fenton's
Centennial Celebration Saturday afternoon in Williamstown. (Photo
by Tony Kemp)