Pilgrim glass

Pilgrim Glass Glass
from the
Glass Encyclopedia

Pilgrim Glass Glass: A short explanation

Alfred E. Knobler, who founded Pilgrim Glass, trained as a Ceramic Engineer during the 1930s but then joined thousands of others looking for work and became a salesman for Trenton Potteries. He was very successful as a pottery salesman and after the war set up his own company buying glass and pottery from factories and selling to retailers. One of his suppliers was Tri-State Glass Manufacturing Company in Huntington, West Virginia and in 1949 Alfred Knobler was persuaded to buy this company and form his own glass supplier, the Pilgrim Glass Corporation.

In 1956 Knobler moved the company to a new site at Ceredo, West Virginia. They made crackle glass in many colours from about 1949 until 1970. Roberto Morretti and his brother Alessandro, skilled glassworkers from Italy, joined the company in the 1950s and designed and produced a series of Pilgrim glass animals and paperweights. These became very popular and formed a staple part of the Pilgrim repertoire.

above: Limited Edition
cameo glass vase, 1991
by Kelsey Murphy
for Pilgrim Glass.

During the 60s and 70s the company added new types of art glass and glass for collectors to their production. They were not deterred by difficult production problems, and their gold-ruby Cranberry glass and Cased glass were examples of high quality glass which has remained popular over the years.

In the early 1980s Kelsey Murphy had a graphic design business in Cincinnati, Ohio, and began experimenting with sand-blasted designs on flat glass. When this was successful she moved into carved designs on glass vessels, and in 1985 Pilgrim Glass became her suppliers of glass "blanks". Kelsey's team and the Pilgrim Glass team worked so well together that in 1987 Kelsey Murphy and her partner Bob Bomkamp moved their equipment into the Pilgrim Glassworks and became a part of Pilgrim Glass. Since that time they have produced some brilliant cameo glass, sometimes with as many as eight layers of glass through which the design is carved. The little vase shown above is an example of their limited edition production work.
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References and Sources:
  • "A Formula for Success: the Pilgrim Glass Story" by R. G. McKeand and D.T. O'Connor, Glass Collectors' Digest volume 6 no. 1, July 1992.
  • "Pilgrim's New Cameo Glass" by G. Eason Eige, Glass Collectors' Digest volume 4 no. 3, November 1990.
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