1930 Pittsburgh Exhibit

by Mark Nye
Issue No. 442 - October 2010

Anyone who has done any research regarding American glassware of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Cambridge, or read the results of such research has come across references to the "Pittsburgh Show," "Pittsburgh Exhibit" or some other term or terms regarding an annual exhibit of glassware and china in that city. Over the years the proper name evolved into "Pittsburgh Glass and Pottery Exhibit." An annual event, held in January of each year, it provided a central location for manufacturers to display their ware for prospective buyers. Most people know little about this annual event and its history. What follows are parts of articles that first appeared in "Crockery and Glass Journal" during 1930. They provide the reader with an explanation and history of the exhibit.

"The Gold Jubilee or 50th anniversary of the Pittsburgh glass and Pottery Exhibit comes in January, opening January 13 and continuing to Saturday, January 25. The exhibit of two weeks compares with the early displays lasting a month. Fifty years ago, however, buyers were not so hurried and the purchases were made for from six months to a year. Today the Exhibit is of shorter duration in keeping with modern buying methods.

"The Pittsburgh Exhibit began in January 1880 and the first "show" had only a few lines. Mostly they represented Pittsburgh factories and the salesmen opened their lines together as a matter of convenience to the trade. The old Monongahela House was the first exhibit center. Each year the original number of exhibitors was added to and by the time the Exhibit moved to the Fort Pitt Hotel about 20 years ago the half-dozen or so lines of glassware which marked the first show had been augmented by other glass lines as well as by dinnerware and art and utility pottery. [Ed. Note: In this instance the term line means the wares of a specific company, i.e. the Cambridge line.]

"For a score of years the Fort Pitt Hotel has been the exhibit center. For some years virtually all the displays were confined to this hotel but about seven years ago, facilities there began to be taxed and exhibits have been held in other hotels in downtown Pittsburgh since. In the last three years, most of the displays outside the Fort Pitt Hotel have been at the William Penn Hotel.

"Coincident with the changing methods which increased the number of exhibitors as well as the space required, glass and pottery manufacturers formed an organization to promote the exhibit and to advertise it co-operatively. A group of glass manufacturers formed the first organization but during the January exhibit the body was enlarged into what has since been known as the Associated Glass & Pottery Manufacturers. This group was formed in 1923 and has been functioning for the exhibit since.

"While the Pittsburgh Exhibit has the distinction of being the oldest display of china, glassware and pottery to be held over a period of years consecutively, it also has the distinction to be the only exhibit promoted by manufacturers solely and entirely. It seeks no profit and confines itself to promotion of the exhibit in various ways and especially through co-operative advertising. The Associated Glass & Pottery Manufacturers is the oldest organization of its kind in the country and, properly, is interested in the oldest display of china glassware and pottery.

"For the past three years, because of limitations of suitable space, the exhibits at the Fort Pitt Hotel have been confined with half-adozen exceptions to the wares of members of the Association. This will hold true also in 1930, but here will be as many if not more lines shown at the Wm. Penn Hotel as usual.

"See the New Wares First in Pittsburgh" is the slogan of the Associated Glass & Pottery Manufacturers. This has been true every year. Manufacturers show their new lines first in Pittsburgh. This has added to the staying qualities as well as to the interest in the show. For the Golden Jubilee Exhibit, manufacturers will have many new lines and many, undoubtedly, will have special offerings because of the 50th anniversary." Crockery and Glass Journal, January 1930.

"Preliminary plans for the Pittsburgh glass and Pottery Exhibit, an allied trade institution for half a century, have been worked out by the board of directors and it is announced that the 51st annual show will be held from January 12 to January 24. The Pittsburgh show is fostered by the Associated Glass and Pottery Manufacturers of which Charles H. West of the Westmoreland Glass Co. is president.

"The 1931 exhibit dates correspond to those of the show last January which was the 50th anniversary of the found of the January exhibition in 1880. At the start, the Pittsburgh Exhibit was confined to glassware. Pottery lines, especially dinnerware, were added as the years went by. In the past 15 years the exhibit has included the widest showing of manufacturers’ lines of glassware, dinnerware and art and utility pottery. The Pittsburgh Exhibit is the only one conducted by manufacturers in the interests of their various lines of ware.

"As in recent years, exhibit headquarters will be at the Fort Pitt Hotel and most of the members will have exhibits there. Other Pittsburgh hotels will have displays including those of non-members, such as importers, gift distributors, glass and pottery decorators, house wares and other related items.

"Displays of manufacturers at the Pittsburgh Exhibit have grown more extensive in many cases and the outlook for 1931 is that the scope of the displays will be fully as complete as formerly. As in former years, there will be shown scores of new shapes, designs and decorations from glass and pottery manufacturers making every kind of ware for use in the home, on the dining table and in the kitchen.

"The Pittsburgh Exhibit will present the first opportunity for merchandisers to see the many new lines from manufacturers and to compare them. Manufacturers already are making plans for the Exhibit and designers and decorators are working on new things. The exact extent and variety of the new wares will not be known, of course, until the exhibit opens January 12. In some instances, it may be a day or two later before the new wares are finished.

"As the oldest of the exhibits, the Pittsburgh Show also is unique in that it has been in one place for so many years. This has been due in large part to the continued interest and support of manufacturers. Pittsburgh is the center of glassware and pottery manufacturing with the largest producing units in both industries within easy reach of the city. Veteran merchandisers long have known the value of the Pittsburgh Show and the number who have been in Pittsburgh in January for more than 20 years consecutively is quite large.

"Advertising plans for the 1931 Exhibit include direct mail and trade journal advertising. The Show Directory, covering all exhibits, will be issued through the Associated Glass & Pottery Manufacturers.

"In Anticipation of demand for increased space, additional rooms in the Fort Pitt Hotel have been taken over by the show Association. This will provide in large part for the normal growth of display needs by members, some of whom have been participating in the January Exhibit for more than 40 years. In recent years the displays of individual manufacturers have grown steadily. On-room displays have grown to two, three and four rooms. Seven years ago displays of manufacturers were confined to three floors. For 1931, the lines of manufacturers will be on every floor of the Fort Pitt Hotel. This growth is in spite of the fact that mergers and other reasons have reduced the actual number of manufacturers exhibiting." "Crockery and Glass Journal" November 1930

"Having successfully passed the 50th year mark last January, the Pittsburgh Glass & Pottery Exhibit is about to launch upon its second half century of continuous yearly operation. The 51st annual exhibit at Pittsburgh will open on January 12th and continue until January 24th, with a group of displays by important manufacturers in the Ft. Pitt and William Penn Hotels.

"Business conditions throughout the past year have reacted favorably upon the coming exhibit, for the manufacturer and buyer alike is anxious to learn what the coming January market will uncover. Interest in the event, for this reason, is running high and an attendance equal to, or in excess of, former years is confidently expected.

"This issue of the Crockery and Glass Journal contains many announcements by manufacturers telling of the new lines which they have prepared for the coming Pittsburgh Show, and other announcements of like character will appear in our January issue. From these the buyers will immediately gather the idea that extensive preparations in the way of new merchandise have been made by the potteries and glass factories for 1931 business. It is to see these new things and to buy stock for Spring sales that the buyers come to Pittsburgh next month from all parts of the country." Crockery and Glass Journal December 1930.

Two of the articles then went on to list all of the exhibitors at the 1930 and 1931 shows. Among the exhibitors for both shows was the Cambridge Glass Co.