American glass manufactory in Corning, NY. In 1851 Amory Houghton (1813–82), a Boston businessman, became a director of a glass company in Cambridge, MA, and subsequently owner of his own glass factory. Later he sold his Massachusetts glass interests and bought the idle Brooklyn Flint Glass Works in New York. Transportation and labour difficulties caused him to move the equipment and some employees to Corning in 1868. The factory’s chief product was blanks for glasscutting, and Houghton persuaded John Hoare (1822–96) to establish a branch of his successful Brooklyn cutting shop in Corning. This was the first of many cutting shops in the region, which became noted for the production of heavily cut glass. By about 1900 more than 500 glasscutters were employed in the Corning area.
In the 1870s Amory Houghton jr (1837–1909) of the renamed Corning Glass Works developed an exceptionally visible and stable red glass for railway signal lanterns, which later became a railway standard, and in 1880 the firm blew the first light bulbs for Thomas Edison (1847–1931). After 1905 Corning phased out the manufacture of blanks for glasscutting, as this type of glass ceased to be fashionable, and developed the heat-resistant glass ‘Pyrex’ for use in laboratories and kitchens. The works expanded to become the largest speciality glass company in the USA, making all types of products except window glass and containers. In 1918 the Steuben glass works became a subsidiary of Corning and now produces colourless, artistic glasswares with an exceptionally high proportion of lead, often decorated with copper-wheel engraving.
In 1951, to commemorate 100 years of involvement in the glass industry, the Houghton family opened the Corning Glass Center, which houses industrial displays, the Steuben glass factory and The Corning Museum of Glass, an educational institution devoted to the art and history of glassmaking. In 1990 the company changed its name to Corning Inc.
Jane Shadel Spillman
From Grove Art Online
© 2009 Oxford University Press