In the second decade of the nineteenth century, a new technique for producing glass was developed in the United States. It revolutionized glassmaking not only in the new republic, but quickly spread to Europe and beyond. The technique was that of pressing glass in a new mechanical press, a method which drastically reduced the time and labor involved in making glass objects. Not only were costs reduced, but the new mass-production methods made glass available to everyone, not just the wealthy. The press of the 1820s, which made one glass plate every minute, was superseded within a century by new equipment – the 1920s machines produced several hundred pressed objects per minute.
Pressed glass is surveyed in this book from the first known patent application for a glass knob in the 1820s to the sophisticated glass of René Lalique 100 years later. This brief history illustrates the results of the worldwide adoption of the mechanical pressing machine, an Amerian invention. Examples of pressed glass range from salts and cup plates to artistic objects of the early 20th century.