Manassas Journal Messenger | A heart of glass

Glass is the No. 1 most collected thing in America and the Manassas Museum is honored to present the new exhibit, “A Touch of Glass,” which officially opens Sunday and runs through Dec. 31.

Calvin “Cal” Hackerman of Manassas has been collecting glass for over 40 years. He has lent more than 200 of his stunning pieces, both functional and decorative, to inspire this exhibit.

“We are so fortunate that Cal is willing to share his collection with the museum and the community,” said Roxana Adams, the museum’s acting director.

With pieces dating back to the 19th century, the exhibit shows the evolution and different paths the glass industry has taken over the years.

Hackerman will discuss his collection and offer tips on collecting glass at a reception, starting at 2 p.m. Sunday at the museum. He will bring even more glass from his private collection.

Also, in celebration of the new exhibit, Echoes, the museum store, has become an authorized dealer of Fenton art glass and will feature unique American hand-blown glass pieces.

“A Touch of Glass” features many types of glass: blown, molded, pressed, cut, stretch, iridescent, painted and etched. From a beautifully painted blue water pitcher featuring hand-painted flowers and gold trim to a stretched iridescent vase that seems to change color with every movement, the exhibit brings to life the different types and ways glass can be shaped, decorated and used.

Some of the items featured are two sets of 1845-1860 dolphin candlesticks made by the Boston and Sandwich Glass Co.; a 1880-1887 blown and overshot (Frosted Ware) flint glass covered tankard; a rare triple dolphin handled rose bowl by Fenton; and a Celeste Blue iridescent stretch glass boudoir set.

Creating a starting point for visitors, the very first display gives a brief written orientation of American glass and what the exhibit has to offer.

A special “State Glass” section features different state patterns found on glass. Between 1897 and 1903, certain states selected patterns to be featured on glass. Virginia’s Galloway pattern and a rare Rhode Island patterned glass are highlights of this section.

Another section, “During the Depression Glass” takes a look at glass production and uses during the Great Depression. The display highlights the certain type of glass that was produced in the ’20s and ’30s in response to the tough times. The glass, mostly green, pink, amber, blue or yellow was produced fairly cheaply.

Families would attend “Dish Nite” at local movie theaters and could get a piece of this cheap glass to take home. It was possible to collect an entire dinner set for the family. And many pieces were given out in cereal boxes and at laundry mats as promotional items to encourage business.

“Depression glass was able to bring light to a grim life. There was glass for everything and glass for everyone,” added Adams.

American glass blowing began in Jamestown. Trading beads, featured in the exhibit, were used in 1607 as currency so the settlers could trade with the Indians for fur and other necessities.

“It is really special to have this exhibit because the origin of American glass is in Virginia,” said Adams.

For those interested in collecting glass, there is a display that illustrates the different ways glass can be obtained. Salt and pepper shakers are classic collectables. Other collecting methods featured are: by color, company, style, type and even celebrity. For example, glasses with Shirley Temple etched on them are displayed.

With multiple displays and plenty to learn about, this exhibition really brings to life the American glass trade and the people who keep the spirit alive by preserving and collecting rare glass.

Staff writer Brian Kuhta can be reached at (703) 369-6751.


* “A Touch of Glass”

* Sunday through Dec. 31; artist’s reception at 2 p.m. Sunday

* Manassas Museum, 9101 Prince William St.

* Admission: $3; free to Manassas residents on Sundays

* (703) 368-1873 or

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