Saturday, September 30, 2017

Frosted Ohio Presidents

Never in my life did I think I would get excited about mid 20th-century frosted glass tumblers, but here I am blogging about it. Again. I now have several different sets of Ohio related drink-ware and I've posted about one them before. I learned from my previous research that Ohio was a leader in the glass industry from the late 1800's to the mid 20th century so there are many Ohio themed glasses from that period.

I started this next set of  "Presidents From Ohio" glass tumblers by picking up three of them for a good price at an antique mall several years ago. I've seen the rest on eBay but at $8-14 a piece plus several dollars for shipping that was going to set me back a bit to get the entire set of eight. I'm kind of a cheapskate. Another website had an incomplete set of 6 for $120. Ouch.

Thanks to the sharp eye of an old friend browsing at a local antique mall who sent up the Gehio signal (he texted me), yours truly is now the proud owner of an entire eight-piece set. The best part? Only $35!

This series was designed by Fran Taylor and produced by her company, Gay Fad Studios of Lancaster, OH which was open from 1945-1962. Fran obtained blank glassware from various Ohio manufacturers such as Hazel Atlas Glass in Zanesville and Federal Glass in Columbus. Another was Anchor Hocking which was a few doors down from Fran's Pierce Avenue studio. The blanks were then stenciled and hand-painted. Because I had duplicates, I compared them. I noticed that the coloring on the birthplaces is somewhat different. That makes each one is unique.

The 12-ounce frosted glass tumblers are 5" high with a rim diameter or 2-3/4". The front of each President’s glass features his portrait, a facsimile of his signature, and his years in office (or year of the month in W. H. Harrison's case) with “Presidents From Ohio” above, all in brown, while the back shows his birthplace* in brown with colorful accents. In all my research I've never been able to determine the exact year these were made. Perhaps the secret is contained within the two-volume 610 page book published in 2011, Gay Fad: Fran Taylor’s Extraordinary Legacy by Donna McGrady. At $150 that's too rich for my blood to find out. I'm not so much obsessed with Fran's entire impressive career and work as I am about this particular set of glasses. It would be nice to know how many were made since as I stated before, being hand painted, they are all slightly different.

*Since I am William Henry Harrison obsessed, I noticed that being a Virginian by birth, Harrison's is not a birthplace, but a home in Ohio when he was elected. However, he never lived in a home that looked like a log cabin. The same scene is used in grandson Ben Harrison's birthplace. Ben was born on William's farm in North Bend OH but it was more like a mansion. All the others seem pretty accurate.

I have a couple of other full Ohio related glassware sets to write about waiting in the wings, so look for that...


  1. I was just looking in my cedar chest and found these glasses. They could have been my grandma's. My dad gave them to me. I have the complete set.

  2. Thanks for reading. It's a nice set of glasses isn't it? I just display mine but if you use them don't run them through a dishwasher as they could chip and the paint could wear off. I ended up selling my spares to a couple of fellow Presidential fanatics.

  3. I found a set at a garage sale for $2.