Pioneer Glass Company: The Story Behind The Glass
With thanks to Mitchell Stewart for assistance in putting this story together, and to the sources listed at the end.
In around 1986, three ex-Fostoria glassmakers leased a small section of the old Imperial plant (previously operating as Arthur Lorch Imperial Glass / ALIG) and started making glass there. The men were Bob Simsa, Brad Law and Harold Logsdon.
It was as part of a plan by the "Save Imperial Committee" to rescue at least part of the factory and to turn it into a tourist attraction. The three men, with help from Willard Kolb, operated under the name of Pioneer Glass Company, and reportedly had the use of about 40 moulds. They also had other factories such as Viking and L E Smith make glass for them.
Pioneer Glass was sold on site, in Imperial's Hay Loft outlet store, and also "in local gift shops around Bellaire, Ohio." Ultimately, it was not a viable plan, and Pioneer ceased operating in 1988.
On the right, and below, is a contemporaneous report in the Times-Leader newspaper, with pictures of the glassworkers pressing and finishing glass.
In their inventory, the West Virginia Museum of American Glass lists a number of pieces that were made by Pioneer Glass. Reports suggest that these pieces were part of a donation to the museum by the widow of Willard Kolb.
These items are all marked "S I C" on the bottom (for the "Save Imperial Committee") and a few of them also have a paper label: "PIONEER GLASS / Bellaire, Ohio." They give a good indication of the items and colours that were made by Pioneer Glass.
Atterbury Scroll (Imperial mould) - sauce dish in cobalt blue, cobalt blue Carnival, green, green Carnival, clear Carnival, and avocado green. Also have the Imperial "IG" mark.
Atterbury Scroll (Imperial mould) - candleholder in cobalt blue, green, green Carnival, and brown.
Atterbury Scroll (Imperial mould) - nappy in cobalt blue, cobalt blue Carnival, green Carnival, and clear Carnival.
Basket Weave (Imperial moulds)- cream and sugar with lid in cobalt blue.
Grape, aka Concord (Imperial mould) - sauce dish in cobalt blue Carnival, and green Carnival.
Ivy (Imperial moulds) - sugar and cream in cobalt Carnival.
Lions Foot, aka 3-Toed (Imperial #1950/31 moulds) - sugar and cream in cobalt blue and green Carnival.
Mount Vernon (Imperial mould) - tumblers in green and cobalt blue.
Rope design (Imperial mould) - puff box with lid, in cobalt blue, cobalt Carnival, and green.
Rope design (Imperial mould) - nappy in green.
Reported elsewhere are:
Imperial" Grape small mug in blue slag glass (marked "IG" and dated 1987), and in green Carnival Marked "IG" and dated 1988.
Moon and Star min 5 piece water set - made for, and marked Weishar.
Rectangular block paperweight in green, sandblasted with "PIONEER GLASS".
Sources: Tom Felt, Nancy Stonebraker, Dorothy Taylor/"Encore" magazine, Joan Cimini, Gary Patterson and the West Virginia Museum of American Glass.