Imperial Glass Corporation No. 1608/1 Ashtray in Brown Slag

Jan 1, 2024 | Museum Monday Treasures

Today’s Museum Monday treasure from the Museum of American Glass in WV is an Imperial Glass Corporation No. 1608/1 ashtray in brown slag. Imperial offered an assortment of these ashtrays in what they called “End o’ Day,” perpetuating the old myth that glassworkers would mix together all of the colors remaining in the tanks at the end of the workday to create these striking combinations of opal and other hues.

We also have examples of these ashtrays in blue slag and ruby slag. The latter has a detailed label:

“During the 250 years between 1650 and 1900 in American Glass Factories, at the end of the formal working day the laborers were allowed to use up the melted batch yet remaining in the hot furnace pots to make articles for themselves and their families. An early ‘fringe benefit’ perhaps yet in such manner the pots were emptied and readied for another full melt without labor cost.

“In the course of this practice, the workers would occasionally go from pot to pot gathering several different kinds and colors of glass one upon the other. Thus variegated colors came into existence and END O’DAY GLASS was born. The term End O’Day also denotes ITEMS that the workers made – ofttimes NEVER duplicated, and the originals are PRICELESS today.

“Most of the End O’Day GLASSES cannot be controlled as to exact color domina[nance?] or shade. Each Ash tray in this glass has its own individual shape and appearance — no two can ever be the same!

“Basically this glass is part Crystal (clear), part Milk Glass (opaque white) and other dense-colored glass or glasses as may be available at the time of actual manufacture.

“Here is a practical and popular Ash Tray which will serve you well, intrigue your guests and be a real subject for social and historical conversation — a product of America’s Oldest Industry, Handmade Glass.”

This makes for a lovely story and was great marketing – but, of course, largely fanciful. Slag glass is very carefully formulated to make sure that all of the colors involved will anneal at the same rate. These ashtrays were made from the early 1960s until circa 1976. They are approximately 6 ¼” x 6 ¼” and about 2” high.

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