Sandwich and not PB&J
©2012 “M’Liss A Hinshaw
If you thought Sandwich, Massachusetts was the birthplace of sandwiches in America, you might be surprised to learn it is the home of historic glass manufacturing factories.
Cape Cod and Glass
Along the scenic Cape Cod coast is the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company museum in Sandwich, Massachusetts.
The British Name
Sandwich was given its name after Sandwich, England and is an area chosen because of its shallow waters and shipping capabilities. During the Industrial revolution, there were other glass factories in New England but the name Sandwich always intrigued me. I decided to visit the glass museum while touring “the Cape”.
Thousands of glass pieces
I walked through the building and looked at over 6,000 pieces of glass on display. Many of them reminded me of my grandmother’s salt shakers, sugar bowls, cologne bottles and vases kept in her curio cabinet. Pink, amber, violet, green and red were hand painted on the designs. In later years, a certain process enabled the vibrant colors to be infused into the glasses.
Some of the works I saw in the various display cases looked to be from Ireland and Great Britain and I wondered why they would be in this Americana museum. The company had recruited and hired knowledgeable glass makers from Ireland and England and they left their imprint in America with this booming business of its day.
Women in the work force
Women contributed to the work force by making stoppers for bottles, painting, etching and staining glass. I even viewed a special exhibit about the women who had worked in the factory including pictures from the 1800’s and the glass works they hand crafted. There are continuously changing exhibits and I found out more about glass blowing, shaping, pressing and design within the museum than I learned from any history books.
Time and war shuttered the company
The civil war impacted the success of the glass making factories and competition came from other states which eventually shutting down the Boston and Sandwich Glass company.
The museum gives a person the opportunity to see firsthand the process for creating and shaping glass with a 20 minute video and demonstrations by a glass blower showing different techniques. On the way out, the gift store sells glassworks from local artists and a curator is on hand to identify the antique items. Christmas time is especially bright and colorful with twenty glass blowers making ornaments to decorate the indoor Christmas tree.
All ages enjoy the museum
Children are given a treasure hunt map to find the handmade glass and pressed glass such as fly traps, roosters, hats, sitting hen and vases. As they exit, they are given a small package of marbles made on premises.
Glass works tell of bygone times and reaching for Grandma’s lacy glass candy jar made me realize how factories evolved into our current daily lives.
Sandwich Glass Museum
129 Main Street, Sandwich, MA 02563
This article was revised from the original article.