Curious Collections: Geist Resident Showcases Dazzling Antique Glass Pieces from Heisey Co.
Ken Newton has been collecting beautiful glassware since the early 1970s. He’s specific about what he buys; it must be a genuine “Heisey” — an original piece manufactured by A.H. Heisey and Co. of Newark, Ohio, from 1896 to 1957.
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Back then, Heisey was considered one of the finest glass makers in the nation and was known for its perfectly clear glass and interesting patterns.
The first time Ken saw Heisey glassware was at an antique show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. He was immediately enchanted and decided to become a member of the newly founded Heisey Collectors of America (HCA), an organization dedicated to preserving the history of the Heisey company, as well as helping collectors find and identify Heisey glass. HCA now boasts more than 3,000 members.
Ken’s collection includes about 120 pieces of fine glass dinnerware, serving dishes, barware and animal figurines. He’s found many of them at antique shops and garage sales.
“Sometimes you can go someplace and find someone who doesn’t know what they’ve got, and you get a bargain,” he said. That was the case with a set of seven etched wineglasses Ken discovered at an auction. As the only one who knew the value of signed Heisey stemware, Ken was able to get the glasses for $10 a piece instead of $16-$17.
Often it takes an avid collector to identify an original Heisey. While most pieces are marked with the telltale “H” in a diamond, the logo can be small and hidden, so you have to know where to look. Other pieces aren’t marked at all. In those cases, you have to be familiar with the pattern, Ken said. His monthly HCA magazine highlights a different Heisey pattern in each issue.
Ken’s favorite dinnerware pattern is known as “orchid etch,” which features a lovely and intricately etched design. He also has several animal figurines in various colors. A few sets have been remanufactured specifically for collectors, using the original Heisey molds. He pairs those with the original, clear-glass animals from Heisey, which are much more valuable.
He had the opportunity to see such rare and treasured glass pieces at the National Heisey Glass Museum in Newark, an experience which still lights up this retiree’s face.
“It’s fabulous,” he says with awe. “I could spend a whole day in there!”
To see a video and additional photos of Ken Newton’s collection, visit www.atgeist.com.