Safetee Glass Company Slide Rule

Feb 13, 2023 | Museum Monday Treasures

Today’s Museum Monday treasure from the Museum of American Glass in WV is a slide rule. That’s probably not something most people would expect to find in a glass museum’s collection, but this one is from the Safetee Glass Company and is intended to be used to calculate footage needed to order bullet-proof and shatter-proof glass. It even includes a great image of the glass factory in Wayne Junction, Philadelphia, Pa. It is copyrighted 1938.

Safetee Glass Company was founded in 1914. Our archives include quite an array of documentation for the company. The next two photographs are an envelope from 1925. It includes a slogan: “Safety in Glass Since 1914. Safetee Glass Won’t Shatter or Fly,” “Bank Robberies and Holdups, A Preventive.” The front of the envelope has a picture of a window with the caption: “Three .45 calibre steel-jacketed bullets fired from automatic revolver at a distance of 3 feet did not penetrate Safetee Bullet-proof Glass — Official Police Test.” The envelope is postmarked Nov. 10, 1932.

The back of the envelope is printed with a replica of hand-writing: “P.S. Specify Safetee Glass for your next car.” It includes two images, one with a radiating crack: “The Worst that can happen to Safetee. Safetee Glass will not shatter, nor will it splinter after the worst kind of a bump or crash. You can be sure that Safetee glass will protect you in any accident.” The other image is a window with a large hole: “This Is How Ordinary Glass Shatters. This is what happens to ordinary glass. It breaks into sharp, jagged, scattering pieces that often result in very serious injury. Perhaps you are exposing yourself to this danger.” An earlier mailing to the banking community in 1925 includes several pages of information, including testimonials on how bullet-proof glass in a limousine protected lives in a crash and how it foiled bank robbers when installed in banks. One sad news report is included about the killing of a teller, because Safetee glass had not yet been installed in his bank.

A 1942 letter is of interest, because it documents Safetee Glass Company’s involvement in the War effort. A sticker has been placed over part of the letterhead, “Defense Plant, part of the arsenal of democracy.” Typed below it is: “Keep ’em flying.” Safetee also provided glass for aircraft.

And the company continued to move well into the space age. Our collection includes a printing block for an advertisement that appeared in the Design News in 1967. It asks: “What is the best glass to send into space? Is breakable glass a costly danger? Safetee Glass builds precision and difficult tolerances into safe glass. Safetee non-optical glass also offers almost unlimited production flexibility. We make it laminated, plain, tempered, tinted, coated . . . any shape or size, flat or curved. We can print it, drill it with holds, round, square or tapered. We have more than a half century of glass fabricating experience behind us.”

I’m not sure when Safetee Glass Company closed, but they seemed to still be operating as late as 1979. Yet one more aspect of glass manufacturing in the United States!

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