Brookfield Glass Company

Bushwick Glass Works (aka Brookfield Glass Company)

Brooklyn, New York (1864 – c. 1912)
Old Bridge, New Jersey (c. 1906-1921)

3 brookiesBushwick Glass Works  began as a bottle manufacturing operation in 1864.  The factory site was located near the intersection of Grand Street and Morgan Avenue in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn, New York.

James Madison Brookfield (1813-1892), who had moved to Brooklyn some time after the Honesdale Glass Works of Traceyville, Pennsylvania (which he had owned) was destroyed by a flood in 1861, seems to have been the main person involved with the management of this establishment in the earlier years, probably from it’s very beginning.

Businessman Martin Kalbfleisch,  owner/proprietor of the Bushwick Chemical Works, (Kalbfliesch also served as mayor of Brooklyn for a time in the 1860s),  built the glass factory in 1864 in order to supply carboys and demijohns (large acid bottles) required for his business,  and hired Mr. Brookfield to manage the operation.  The factory was quite close (apparently, right across the street) to the main Bushwick Chemical Works buildings.

James M. Brookfield purchased the Bushwick glassworks from Kalbfleisch in approximately 1869.   In later years his son (William Brookfield), and later, grandsons, eventually would become involved with the operation of the company.

Many types of bottles and jars were made, especially in the earlier years, and judging from the content of advertisements as late as the 1890s, were continued to be made throughout most, if not all, of the duration of the company’s operation, although not alot is known about them.  Most were evidently unmarked, and/or were made for companies with only the product or company name embossed on them.  Brookfield made many (if not all) of the “RRR / Radway’s Ready Relief” patent medicine bottles, as mentioned in a trade magazine article (Crockery and Glass Journal, Sept 9, 1875).   That article is reproduced here, courtesy of Bob Stahr and Bob Berry, at the Insulator Gazette database website: http://reference.insulators.info/publications/view/?id=411&h0=kalbfleisch.

Large quantities of square pickle bottles, chow-chow (tomato/vegetable pickle relish) jars, and many containers for “Vinegar Bitters” were made, as mentioned in that article.  The “Vinegar Bitters” are almost certainly the “Dr. J. Walker’s Vinegar Bitters” bottles which are found frequently in liqht aqua as well as (much less commonly) in various shades of green similar to the colors of Brookfield-made insulators of the same period.

The mold room is described as being crowded with many, many bottle molds, so there are, no doubt, many types of patent medicine and other product bottles that were made here in large quantities, yet remain unidentified to the present-day bottle collector.

A cylinder whiskey or wine-type bottle is known to exist which is embossed “BUSHWICK GLASS WORKS” in a circle on the base. This bottle is mentioned in McKearin & Wilson’s American Bottles and Flasks and their Ancestry (1978), page 221. Evidently it is a very rarely seen item, and probably dates from the 1860s or 1870s.  A very rare type of fruit jar embossed “Brookfield/55/Fulton St/N.Y.” is known, but only a very few examples have been found by collectors.

The production of electrical insulators rapidly increased in the late 1860s and ’70s, until by the 1880s a large percentage of their glass production consisted of insulators for telegraph and telephone lines. The 1890s saw increasing production of insulators for (higher voltage) electrical power lines.

The great majority of the insulators from the Brooklyn plant are found in a pale blue-aqua color. Insulators in shades of “true” green from this earlier period are considerably less common.  Judging from the huge numbers still in existence, Brookfield was second only to the Hemingray Glass Company  in the sheer number of insulators they manufactured.

For a period of approximately 57 years, huge quantities of insulators marked “W.BROOKFIELD”, “BROOKFIELD”, and  “B”, were produced. It’s likely some of the very earliest insulator styles that were made (circa 1864-1868) were not marked with a manufacturer’s name, and so remain currently unidentified as Bushwick products.

CD 115 Brookfield Insulator

CD 115 telephone insulator, marked BROOKFIELD (this is the same style/shape as the “HEMINGRAY-10” made by Hemingray Glass Company)

Brookfield made insulators for various utility companies, (telephone companies, railroads, electric power companies) and some of these are found with embossed initials / names on them, such as A. T. & T. Co.,   G.E. Co.,  C. D. & P. Tel. Co., etc.

Brookfield maintained business offices in Manhattan throughout most if its history, and those office addresses were embossed on many of the earlier insulators.    55 FULTON ST (1868-1882);  45 CLIFF ST (1882-1889)  and 83 FULTON ST (1889-1893) are embossings found that may help date a particular example.  However, it’s probable some molds were continued to be used for a length of time after the office changed locations.  (Although an insulator collector might understandably assume so, just because of the markings, no insulators were actually made at those Manhattan locations. They were made at the factory site in Brooklyn).

CD 126 telegraph line insulator made by Brookfield at their Brooklyn location. This style dates from the late 1870s into early 1880s.

CD 126 style telegraph line insulator made by Brookfield at their Brooklyn NY plant.  This one is marked with shop number “4” and the 55 FULTON ST. address.  Most examples of this type date from the late 1870s into the 1880s.

Brookfield made more than 100 different types of insulators during it’s history, and some types that are illustrated in their 1912 catalog have never been found (assuming they did actually exist).

A second glass plant was built in Old Bridge, New Jersey, and from recently discovered evidence by collector/historian Bob Stahr, that plant seems to have commenced glass production in about 1906. The exact time when the Brooklyn plant was closed is still open to question, but it may have been around 1912, meaning that both plants likely operated simultaneously for a period of around 6 years. However, production of insulators may have ceased at Brooklyn soon after the Old Bridge NJ plant was in full operation, leaving the Brooklyn location to concentrate exclusively on bottle production, especially beer bottles.

CD 152 Brookfield (type made c. 1911-1921)

CD 152 Brookfield (type made c. 1911-1921).  This is the same style of telegraph insulator as those marked “HEMINGRAY NO 40” made by Hemingray Glass Company.

The Brookfield Glass Company was officially incorporated in 1898 and (again!) in 1908, although that exact company name may have been used, unofficially, for a considerable time beforehand. One interesting note: No insulators are known with a “Bushwick Glass Works” marking.

Green Brookfield-made “beehive style” CD 145 insulator, marked “B”.

 

 

Much of the later production at the New Jersey location tends toward the darker shades of aqua, “teal”, and shades of dark green, including emerald and olive greens. Production of glass at Old Bridge ended in either late 1920 or early 1921 (sources of info vary) but the corporation was officially dissolved in September 1922.

Note: In general, the name Bushwick Glass Works applied to the physical factory, and Brookfield Glass Company was the actual firm (company or business organization) that operated the works, although these two names are often used interchangeably and may be considered almost synonymous.   However, Bushwick Glass Works can properly only be applied to the first glass factory operation in Brooklyn, not the later glassworks in Old Bridge.

Sources of information for this webpage include N.R.Woodward (The Glass Insulator in America: 1988 Report), Elton Gish, Bob Stahr,  Glenn Drummond, Alice Creswick and Helen McKearin.

(Pictured at the top of this page: Group of three “pony” style telephone insulators. From left to right: CD 102 embossed “BROOKFIELD//NEW YORK”;  CD 112 embossed with just a “B”;  CD 103 embossed “B”).

For a basic list of glass factories in the United States that are believed to have made glass insulators at some time in their history, please go to my “Glass Insulator Manufacturers” page  here.

Please click here  to go directly to the GLASS MANUFACTURERS’ MARKS pages (Page One). 

NOTE: New book detailing early-period Brookfield-made “beehive” style insulators: “A Comprehensive Guide to Collecting and Identifying Crown Embossed Brookfield Beehive Insulators, including an Extensive Study of Brookfield Glass Company History” written by Lee Brewer, 269 pages.
I wanted to give a “plug” for this book which was privately published and released to the public this year (2015).  Lee Brewer, a collector and researcher of Brookfield insulators, has worked on this book for well over a decade and his commitment to detail and accuracy is apparent on every page.  He concentrates on the earlier “CREB” (Crown Embossed Brookfield) beehive variants with shop numbers on the dome, which are believed to date from the circa 1882-1897 time period. All were made at Brookfield’s first factory location at Brooklyn, New York.
Included in the book are clear closeup photos of every known/confirmed shop number variant. Lee’s meticulous research details the minor differences of the many different molds used over this time frame. Those shop numbers range from 00 to 23, and the shop letters A and B.
Also included are newspaper and glass journal article summaries; factory diagrams; personal letters from William Brookfield to his mold maker; a letter from a former Bushwick plant employee; a letter from James Brookfield (grandson) about factory details, and other lists and appendices as well as an extensive index.
The book also includes a very handy and highly readable “Frequently Asked Questions” section on Brookfield as well as glass insulator production in general.        Price (postpaid) is $50.00 shipped anywhere in the United States.  (Canadian addresses, please write Lee and ask for shipping quote).
For more information you may contact Lee via regular mail or email:
Lee Brewer
2940 Airport Rd
Chambersburg, PA 17201
Lbrewer42@embarqmail.com

*****************************************************************************

12 Responses to Brookfield Glass Company

  1. Casey Wenz says:

    Hi David,

    My GGG grandfather was JN Huwer of Bushwick Brooklyn. I’ve read conflicting accounts of Bushwick Glass Works and Long Island Flint Glass. Some say they were the same shop, others distinguish them separately.

    From what I can gleen, Huwer likely was in business with Dannenhoffer and probably knew and worked with Dorflinger.

    Do you know anything about Long Island Flint Glass and/or its connection with Buchwick Glass Works? They were located very near each other .

    Thanks for any insight.

    Best,
    Casey

    • David says:

      Hi Casey,
      This is a great example of how much confusion and misinformation we can encounter when trying to research a historical subject (any subject!)…………it is very difficult to research stuff like this, as you know! I will pass along what little I have been able to glean……………

      Here is my own belief: I am quite sure that Long Island Flint Glass Works (sometimes also called “Long Island Glass Works”) was not the same firm as Bushwick Glass Works (Brookfield Glass Company). I believe they WERE located next to each other for some period of time, and it is very possible that there was some type of leasing agreement between the two operations. It was not unusual for one large factory to “subcontract” space to other firms or operations. I DO NOT know for a fact that this is the case in this particular instance. I have found several brief snippets of text from several sites online; perhaps you have already seen them.

      For one thing, Brookfield was primarily a “green glass” works- they made mostly utilitarian green glass or “bottle glass” (aqua, blue or green, along with amber), normally a cheaper grade of glass such as used to make bottles, fruit jars and electrical insulators.

      Long Island Flint Glass Works specialized in making “flint glass” which in this context means “clear glass” or “more upscale glass such as tableware and lamp chimneys, decanters, etc” and “flint glass” also includes clear medicine/prescription bottles. Their stated specialty was clearly lamp chimneys and similar “hollow ware” . The “Silex” brand name they were known for has nothing at all to do with Brookfield, I am sure.

      The earlier Christian Dorflinger firm supposedly started back in the early 1850s and I don’t think that was even the same firm at all………..just a similar name. One reference (among the ones I copy below) show that the Long Island Glass Works of Huwer was located in 1873 on Maujer and Remsen. A billhead with a pic online exists which shows they were at the corner of Maujer and Morgan in 1897. Brookfield was DEFINITELY in high gear during that same year, making millions of insulators, so I am guessing they were operating side-by-side, one operation doing flint, the other green glass.

      The following is the one and ONLY reference I could find that indicated Long Island Flint Glass Works was the same as “Bushwick”. I think that is a piece of misinformation published by a writer for Commoner and Glassworker magazine who didn’t understand the exact circumstances.
      I am pretty sure the Long Island Flint Glass Works was located right next to “Brookfield Glass Company” (for a while) but it was either a totally separate building or (possibly) a portion of the building complex but under a separate lease.

      http://reference.insulators.info/publications/view/?id=487

      ************************************************************************
      [Clearly, two separate operations according to this business directory]:

      From “Long Island New York Business Directory – 1878-1879”

      GLASS MANUFACTURERS.

      Brookfield William, Grand c Morgan av

      Bushwick Glass Works, Wm. Brookfield,
      Morgan av c Grand and 55 Fulton N. Y.

      Deechan J. Snell’s alley n High

      De La Bostie A. Delavan n Van Brunt

      Dobelman Flint Glass Co. 202 Plymouth

      Empire State Flint Glass Works, Kent av
      c Taylor

      Greenpoint Flint Glass Works, 93 to 99 Com-
      mercial

      Hagerty Bros. & Co. Smith c Centre

      Jacob Simon, 51 Middagh

      Long Island Flint Glass Works, Maujer c
      Morgan av

      Meyer & Kelsh, N. 9th c 5th E. D.

      Schneder P. & Sons, N. 11th c 2d E. D.

      Taney John, 212 to 218 Concord

      Youngwitz Joseph, 39 Grand

      ************************************************************************

      Another reference………………

      “Schlegel’s German-American Families in the United States …, Volume 3”
      https://books.google.com/books?id=VRUwAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA129&lpg=PA129&dq=%22long+island+glass+works%22&source=bl&ots=ZT4Ljc-qce&sig=d_G-qtmlgDfEiNCQupz3s6ocg4s&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjIttGM_YjKAhVCy2MKHR7tA6QQ6AEILjAD#v=onepage&q=%22long%20island%20glass%20works%22&f=false

      From page 129:

      ” Nicholas Dannenhoffer son of John and Angelika Jung Dannenhoffer was born at the family home in the town of Rahlinger in what was then the province of Lorraine France April 3 1839. He received his educational training in the Volks schule of his native town and soon after being confirmed he became engaged in assisting his father on his farm until he reached his seventeenth year, at which time he decided to learn the trade of glass making.
      About this time in company with his brother John he decided to emigrate for the United States and upon settling his family affairs and interests he went to the city of Paris France and from there he corresponded with his brother John and when he learned that his brother was also about to sail for the United States they both secured passage on the sailing vessel Helvetia, and after a voyage of sixty days they arrived at Castle Garden.
      Upon his arrival here he went with his brother on the Hudson boat to Albany where he found employment on the same farm where his brother was employed.
      He also went back to Albany with his brother and from there to Mentes Station where he worked for some time on the road. He next went with his brother to New York City and there found employment in the same firm of Russo & Walter Glass Works. He then became a partner with his brother John and they first established a glass manufacturing plant at Maujer street under the firm name of Long Island Flint Works.
      They then removed to Morgan and Remsen streets Williamsburg where they founded in 1873 the Long Island Glass Works. In 1876 Nicholas Dannenhoffer erected a new establishment at Throop and Gerry streets where he remained for five years He started a new building at McKibbin street under the firm name of Williamsburg Flint Glass Works which firm he turned over to a stock company when his oldest son Aloysius died. He retired on account of illness in 1895 but is still at the present time [1917] a shareholder of this concern.”

      *************************************************************************

      From “The civil, political, professional and ecclesiastical history, and commercial and industrial record of the county of Kings and the city of Brooklyn, N.Y., from 1683 to 1884″…………… Search “BROOKFIELD” in this archive………. Brookfield (Bushwick) and Huwer (Long Island Flint Glass Works) are clearly different glass enterprises according to this text.

      https://archive.org/stream/cu31924088998061/cu31924088998061_djvu.txt

      I hope this will help!! Best regards,
      ~David

      • Albert.K says:

        There is an old inn off of rout one,across the road from the inn i have found at least fifteen insulators. all of which,apart for one, are either brookfield,brookfield new york,or am.tel&tel.co. all of the insulators are from around the turn pf the century 1890,-1920s why would they all be in such close proximity to each other,and why are all of them on the surface of the ground.

        I also found a brookfield insulator that is light aqua blue and it is very large for a one piece brookfield insulator. it has patent dates 1879 and 1880 embossed on the top. what was this insulator used for,and what CD number is it?

        • David says:

          Albert,
          Depending on the location of a dump and the surrounding conditions (such as next to a stream, creek or river) sometimes items can be very close to, or at the surface because of erosion.
          From you description, it sounds like most of them are telephone-style insulators. Many lines end up with a mixture of different sizes, styles and markings, because when upgrades and repairs were made over a period of several decades, you can end up with a mix of different insulators. When a line is demolished, or all the insulators replaced and sent to a dump, a lot of different ones might be found in the same area.
          I don’t know of a glass insulator with an “1880” patent date, but I think you are looking at one marked with 1879 and 1870 patent dates, and that would probably be a CD 126. The CD 126’s were made from around 1878 to 1890 (and later) and many different molds were made with slight differences in exact lettering.
          Hope this helps,
          David

  2. Cindy says:

    in 1880 my GG grandfather was a glass blower in that factory. Where can i find more photos of things made during that time.

    • David says:

      Hi Cindy,
      The products most known to collectors that were made at the Brookfield Glass Company (Bushwick Glass Works) factory located in Brooklyn are primarily insulators, although bottles and jars were also made. But, most of the bottles and jars made there currently remain unidentified, except for a few types such as the Walker’s Vinegar Bitters and many, if not most, of the Radway’s Ready Relief bottles. You could utilize web search engines and search for pictures of those bottles. Since there are still huge numbers of glass electrical insulators around that were made during the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s, many of them show up on ebay all the time, and you can find pictures of those insulators by searching that auction site with keywords such as “W. Brookfield” along with “55 Fulton ST”, “1865” and “1870”. The “beehive” style (CD 145) began production at Brookfield circa 1883-1885, and 1883 and 1884 patent dates are found on many of those insulators made during the mid- to late 1880s and 1890s. I hope this will help.
      ~David

  3. Maria wiesner says:

    I am looking for glass milk bottles that came from the Brooklyn NY area in the 1940’s time period by the Trupiano Dairy – so the glass bottle would say Trupiano on it somewhere. Do you know how I can find these? It was my mother’s uncle’s dairy, I think and I am trying to locate the bottles.

    • David says:

      Hi Maria,
      First of all, are you absolutely sure that they used bottles that were actually marked with the name “Trupiano”? Is it possible the business used some other name other than Trupiano? I did a search with “Trupiano” and “bottle” and “dairy” as well as other keyword searches on the internet, and came up with absolutely nothing of any relevance whatsoever to such a firm. (I assume you are spelling the name correctly?). If the firm actually had bottles produced for them with that name on them, (or even if the dairy existed) I would expect to find at least one obscure mention somewhere, since Google searches billions of webpages within seconds. However, that is not to say that the dairy didn’t exist, as there have been many VERY short-lived, obscure dairies that were in business across the US.
      Anyway, some dairies in the 1940s used “generic” milk bottles that may have carried ONLY the marking of the glass company on the base or on the heel (for instance, examples such as “L-52” for Lamb Glass Company, or “MTC” for Thatcher Glass Manufacturing Company, or “UGP” for Universal Glass Products Co). Milk bottles with specialized embossing (raised lettering) of the dairy (with or without the city, state, etc) cost more to make. Many milk bottles of that time period were made with “painted labels” or “ACL” (Applied Color Label) graphics. The first ACL bottles date from the mid-1930s so if there were any bottles made for Trupiano they might have been an ACL type. Your best bet would be to search ebay periodically….have some “Saved Searches” implemented with pertinent keywords, so if any such bottles show up for sale on that site, you will get automatic email notifications.
      Please let me know if you find out any further info, as I would like to be of help. Best regards, David

    • Lisa says:

      That’s so funny. I was looking too and all I found was you! Love, your sister

  4. Brian says:

    I have a aqua blue Brookfield with a flat base, it says XO on the top, I can’t find this mentioned anywhere or find out if it is worth anything.

    • David says:

      Brian, several different styles of Brookfield insulators were made with this type of “shop letter” marking on the top. Please email me a photo (my email address is listed at the lower right-hand corner of any page on this site) so I can identify it for you. The most frequently found types would be the CD 121 and CD 102 styles.
      David

  5. Pingback: New York City Tours | newyorkcitytours-abc.com

Comments/Reader's posts (All comments must await moderation and will not be posted immediately). Because of mail volume received, and time and energy restraints, many questions cannot be answered individually, especially if the subject is already addressed elsewhere on this site. This site is NOT intended as an appraisal service, but as a resource for background info on glass companies and their marks, so I usually delete "What is this bottle worth?" types of queries. Thank you very much for your patience & understanding!