Trade Shows

by Mark A. Nye
Issue No. 237 - January 1993

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"THE MERRY SALESMEN ARE NOW HERE, with lines of glass and pottery they have taken possession of the city - Exhibits are more scattered than heretofore - some exceedingly original patterns may he seen - Several pottery firms represented for the first time - Indication that this will be the banner year.

"The salesmen are here. The jolly, rollicking, business seeking knights of the grip are quartered in the Smokey City once more. True, they are not so congested as in former years, and therefore do not present such a formidable array to the unsuspecting buyer, but they are here nevertheless, and here in large numbers.

"They have been coming in all week and with the assistance of the house carpenters, porters, and an army of female help, the majority of them have their samples placed and displayed to the best advantage and are now ready for the "big show." And this getting ready is no joke. Don't run away with that idea. Stands have to be built, wire put in for lighting, muslin and velvet tacked, and in this last operation many a muffled cuss-word is heard as the amateur tack driver hits his thumb instead of the object at which he is aiming. Many a porter gets a call down for such negligence, and many a clerk is told that "such service in what is supposed to be a first class hotel is simply --------." Oh well, what's the use?

"As stated above, the exhibits are more scattered this year. Heretofore the Monogahela House has monopolized this trade, but this year finds a change. The old Monon Tavern still has the most by a considerable number, hut several are found at the Hotel Henry, while others are seen at the Hotel Anderson and the Fort Pitt, while the United States Glass Co., and others as usual use their resident showrooms.

"The glass exhibit, as it is called, has become a distinct feature in past years. It is a creation of the glass manufacturers. It is one of their original ideas and, by the way, American glass men are men of originality. They are always springing something new in the way of ware, and it usually creditable. They plan to gel away from imitations of others and from staying in the rut of giving the trade the same old thing year after year. This does not mean that every company produces something new and original every year. Far be it from so.

"The proposition works itself out this way: A certain number of them do get out lines that create a furor this year. This makes those that didn't sit up and take notice and determine that they will be "there" the following year, and so on. Its an endless race, and the undisputed champion will not be found probably as long as there are as many as two companies making the same lines of glass

"This year there are new and beautiful creations to meet the eye and please the fancy of the most critical of buyers. It is not intended to give an extended description of them at this time, as that will appear later. Suffice it to say that the race is still on.

"The pottery men are also here, and in greater proportion than ever before. Those who come to Pittsburg to buy glass usually desire to buy pottery also and the potters have learned that it is a good thing to he represented in the Smokey City at the same time as the giass firms. Hence, each year finds a couple of additions to the list of pottery people. They also have some enticing things to offer and the buyer will be surprised and delighted when he walks into the sample rooms of those who are exploiting pottery ware bearing the stamp, "Made in America."

"Below will be found a list of the companies represented in Pittsburg, where located, room number and representatives as far as obtained." [Ed Note: This rather long list will not be reprinted here.] China, Glass and Lamps, Pittsburg, PA. Saturday, January 6, 1906.

It is sad to read the list of exhibitors at the 1906 Pittsburg Show since most are no longer in existance, both glass and pottery makers, including, of course, the Cambridge Glass Co. The Cambridge exhibit that year was at the Monongahela House in rooms 41 and 42 and representing the company was Mr. Bennett himself.

Other well known glass makers also exhibiting at the same hotel that year were Heisey, Northwood, Duncan & Miller, New Martinsville and Rochester Tumbler Works.


Fifty years ago this country, along with most of the world, was totally involved in World War II. There was little in the daily lives of American citizens that was not deeply affected by the war efforts. I am sure those readers old enough to remember the early 1940s will agree that the foremost goal was to support the war effort and everything else was secondary. It should not come as a surprise then, that the glass industry was also impacted. The following article, taken from the December 1942 issue of China and Glass, deals with one small aspect, that of trade shows. The article was entitled: "TRADE SHOWS IN WARTIME?"

"From the beginning it has been the contention of the various trade show sponsors that this form of buying and selling interferes less than any other with the national transportation facilities. It is apparent, now, that the government agencies involved have come to agree with this idea. Both the War Production Board and the Office of Defense Transportation have withdrawn all opposition to the "trade shows, markets and educational meetings" which until lately were the object of such ominous official frowns. There is, to be sure, a proviso that these meetings must not he permitted to interfere with defense traffic, but that, of course, has been taken for granted by show sponsors.

"Beginning then, with the Pittsburgh Show, which opens January 4, a series of china, glass and gift shows is dotted throughout January, February and early March, some of them sectional and some national in scope. Viewed from mid-December there is every evidence that they will be exceptionally successful shows, too, since both exhibitors and buyers feel that they must take the fullest advantage of such opportunities of getting together.

"The Pittsburgh Show, for instance has drawn a number of firms which never before have taken space at this oldest of all trade exhibits. Among them are Lenox Inc., Fostoria Glass Company, Ebeling and Reuss, inc., Herman C. Kupper, Inc., Blenko Glass Company, Kensington, Inc., and Princeton China Company, while firms like the Cambridge Glass Company, A. H. Heisey and Company, Castleton, Inc., Hunt Glass Works, Carbone and others are showing again after absences of varying periods of time, In glassware, the representation will be the greatest in many years.

The Chicago Gift Show at the Palmer House has been cut down from two weeks to one, although the Merchandise Mail announces its gift show as continuing for the full two weeks. The New York Gift Show has been changed from the Pennsylvania Hotel to the New Yorker, but the Boston Gift Show will be at the Statler, as usual, with the Parker House Gift Show running concurrently.

"The two new southern shows, in Birmingham and in Atlanta, which started last Summer proved successflul enough to he repeated this Spring, and the two gift shows in Dallas will be held simultaneously. San Francisco and Los Angeles will have their gift shows as usual, but the Philadelphia Show has been cancelled this Spring. Rumors of other shows, staged by groups of salesmen. are heard, but no definite dates have been almounced."

The following was inset into the previous article:

China and Glass asked Charles L. Sebring, president of the Associated Glass and Pottery Manufacturers, for a statement on the importance of a Wartime Show. We present it here:

"I am firmly convinced that the Pittsburgh Show, scheduled to he held January 4 to 12, will make a very definite contribution to the war effort by minimizing the necessity for traveling by salesmen and others and also by simplifying the purchasing by distributors located throughout the United States and making it possible for them to procure utilitarian items such as chinaware and glassware that are so necessary to our civilians.

"As an incidental item, too it will contribute to the general economy by reducing the cost of selling of most of the items shown there, and this is quite important to those manufacturers whose selling prices are restricted by OPA.

"It is indicated that there will be displayed the best lines of chinaware and glassware ever shown at one time in he United States. It is believed more important buyers will attend them than have attended any show held in recent times.'"