There’s Always Something New in Antiques
Today I’m sharing a new collectible I discovered thanks to an avid reader who also enjoys fine glassware like the treasures created in the Upper Ohio Valley back in the day.
This time it’s the Erskine Glass Company that I’m talking about. Formerly located at 22nd and Commerce streets, the Wellsburg manufacturer was incorporated in 1919 by John Erskine of Steubenville, Ohio, along with W. Erskine, J. G. Simpson, Robert S. Cain, and D.S. Swaney all of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, according to Brooke County genealogy information found on the Internet.
Lamps and novelty items were what this old-time glass company was known for and though I’ve written about antiques for many years now, this is the first-time I came across this company.
The lamp shown in today’s column is a beauty and is in perfect condition. Featuring an embossed and frosted glass parlor lamp style, it includes brass detailing and the typical glass chimney in the middle of the fluted edge, decorative shade with painted yellow roses. Sometimes this is referred to as a “Gone With the Wind” style lamp.
The Erskine factory turned out countless lamps and novelty items. Erskine didn’t go out of business till the 1975 from what I could discover and William Erskine, Jr. was president of the company at that time.
Another interesting fact I learned is that Brooke County, in the past, had 40 glass factories and glass decorating shops in business from 1813 to 1975. The first glass factory built in Wellsburg after the Civil War was the Riverside Glass House in 1879.
Of course, this information prompted a call to the Brooke County Public Library which referred me to local historian, Ruby Greathouse.
Greathouse is active in Brooke County historical efforts. She serves as a volunteer curator of sorts at the Brooke County Historical Museum and Culture Center, located at 704 Charles St., Wellsburg.
Nine others serve on the museum board with Greathouse, all appointed by the Brooke County Commissioners for a five-year period. The museum’s president is Vickey Gallagher.
“The Erskine Company was heavily into lighting and light fixtures and we have some of the glassware on display at the museum,” added Greathouse. “I remember that the Erskine sales room was called the Lamplighter.”
She bought a lamp by Erskine herself years ago, that is frosted glass with a rose pattern and she’s got it on display at the museum.
“This lamp was always a mystery to me because when you turn it on, the gold rose turns purple. When you turn it off, it goes back to gold. I have no idea what makes this happen.”
According to Greathouse, the Brooke museum has 52 individual display areas in its building, and the Erskine lamp is in the 1890-bedroom display. It also has other novelty pieces of glass produced by Erskine.
The museum’s many displays and treasures include a 1790-era kitchen and a variety of house settings, business and industry section and more. Greathouse describes it as a “life museum.”
“We don’t focus on a certain family or era, we do all facets of life.”
Since Brooke County was founded in 1797, there’s many eras to feature and within walking distance of the Brooke museum, is a log house, a 2003 special project of the Museum Board.
Museum hours are from 1-5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturdays and by appointment. The museum has an active Facebook page for the public to view and can be reached by phone at 304-737-4060.
For comments or suggestions on local treasures to be featured in Antique of the Week, Maureen Zambito can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing in care of this newspaper.