For almost 100 years, the Fostoria Glass Company was a leader and innovator in producing both pressed glass and fine hand-blown glass items. They expanded their line beyond stemware and created patterns that are well known and loved today. Among the most popular of Fostoria's patterns is the design known as Coin Glass.
The Origins of Coin Glass
"Coin Glass" is more of a technique than a specific pattern, and originally, it referred to glassware with actual coins enclosed in the stem or foot of the piece. In the United States, Boston Glass was producing loving cups that had hollow stems with coins inside. The modern version of "coin glass" first appeared around 1892, when the Central Glass and Hobbs companies began using impression of real U.S. coins in their glassware. After only a short period of production, the U.S. Government ruled that practice illegal. In order to salvage their business, the companies switched to foreign coins, and the pieces were sold as "Colombian Coin Glass" or "Spanish Coin Glass."
The Beginning of Fostoria Glass
During this same period, the Fostoria Glass Company, which had been founded in 1887 in Fostoria, Ohio, was moving to Moundsville, West Virginia. At this new location they built a highly successful business making pressed glassware. They soon expanded into fine hand-blown stemware, adding patterns and pieces to their growing line.
A Company of Firsts
In the 1920s, Fostoria began advertising nationally, and they produced the first complete table set in glass. When they added colors to the available choices, the popularity of Fostoria Glass increased. The more casual style of entertaining that was coming into fashion in the U.S. was the perfect place for the new Fostoria glassware, and they continued to produce blown, etched and pressed patterns. After World War II, the company grew even more, at one time it was the largest maker of handmade glassware in the U.S. Fostoria began providing the government with glass that contained official seals. Presidents Eisenhower through Reagan ordered such glass from Fostoria.
Fostoria Reintroduces Coin Glass
Perhaps the idea sprang from the government seals and medallions they were using, perhaps it was in answer to the Colonial style of decorating that was in vogue–whatever the reason, Fostoria began producing its version of Coin Glass in the 1950s. Instead of U.S. coins or foreign coins, Fostoria used its own versions of "coins" displaying patriotic Americana designs; the Liberty Bell, stars and freedom torches. Available in every color that Fostoria produced, the collection continually expanded and included stemware, candy dishes, ashtrays, candlesticks, vases, bowls and urns. The company continued to produce Coin Glass until 1982.
The Avon Connection
During the 1970s and 1980s, Fostoria and Avon joined forces and took advantage of the popularity of both Avon and Fostoria collectible pieces. Fostoria produced numerous items exclusively for Avon, including a line of Christmas ornaments, soap dishes, candleholders, goblets and other stemware. In 1997, they produced several Coin Glass items for Avon's anniversary, including a bowl and footed compote. Other items, such as a set of goblets and a pitcher featuring George and Martha Washington, also had medallion-type decorations that were reminiscent Coin Glass.
Collecting Fostoria Coin Glass
The Fostoria Glass Company was officially closed in 1986, although some of their patterns living on at Lancaster Colony, which purchased Fostoria in 1983. Other companies also continue to produce coin glass items. However, genuine Fostoria Coin Glass is readily available at reputable dealers across the country. It is fairly easy to tell the older blue and green pieces from the newer ones, but with red or clear glass it can be trickier. Beginning collectors are often fooled by a pattern produced by Fenton Glass called "Coin Dot." However the Fenton items do not contain the same "coin" details.