The Museum’s collection of glass made in Mexico nearly doubled with the gift of 124 examples of 20th-century tableware from the New Mexican scholar and collector Eason Eige. The objects highlight a vibrant glassmaking tradition in Mexico that began in the 16th century. The Aztecs and other indigenous peoples used obsidian (volcanic glass) for blades, mirrors, and jewelry. In 1519, the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés (1485–1547) presented a necklace of pearls and cut glass to the Aztec ruler Motecuhzoma II (about 1466–1520), planning to trade glass beads for Aztec gold. The first glass furnace was recorded in 1542, referring to a glasshouse set up in Puebla by Rodrigo de Espinosa. Mexican glass was heavily taxed by Spanish colonial authorities to encourage imports until Mexico won its War of Independence in 1821. Afterward, numerous small glassworks sprang up throughout Mexico, using wood-fired beehive furnaces and recycled glass for cullet. This type of furnace is still being used in many small glassmaking operations in Mexico. The identity and history of most traditional Mexican glasshouses and glassmakers are unknown. However, the Eige Collection includes several objects identified as made at the Avalos Glassworks. Camilo Avalos, who worked as an apprentice at the Guinard glassworks in Puebla, established his own glasshouse in Mexico City in 1857. Later, Avalos moved his glasshouse to Guadalajara. Multiple factors contributed to the gradual decline of the small, artisanal glassworks in Mexico during the 20th century. However, many contemporary artists working with glass have their roots—and studios—in Mexico, and there is growing interest in the history and preservation of traditional Mexican glass production. For more information about Mexican glass, see Miguel Ángel Fernández, “History of Glass in Mexico,” The Glass Art Society Journal, 1992, pp. 17–19; and idem, El vidrio en México, San Pedro Garza García, N.L.: Centro de Arte Vitro, 1990.