F.H.G.W. (Frederick Heitz Glass Works)

“F.H.G.W.” and “F.H.” marks (seen on wax sealer fruit jars, beer and soda bottles)

Frederick Heitz Glass Works, St. Louis, Missouri (1882-c.1897).

A search of the St. Louis city directories in 2005 revealed that the relatively obscure plant known as the Frederick Heitz Glass Works operated in that city for approximately 15 years.    Frederick Heitz’s factory was located on the north side of Dorcas Street, between First and Koskiusco Streets.

According to a brief mention in the trade magazine Engineering and Building Record & Sanitary Engineer, Vol. 5, page 504 (May 11, 1882), the glass factory was built (either having recently finished construction, or under then current construction- this is unclear) at a cost of $40,800. Owner: Fred. Heitz.

Most commonly, the F.H.G.W.  mark is seen on export-style pint and quart-size beer bottles, as well as on “wax sealer” fruit jars, both of which have an unmistakably characteristic American “look” about them.   These wax sealers are virtually identical in appearance to typical specimens made by factories in the American Midwest during the 1880s, especially at St. Louis, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and at several glass plants in the state of Indiana.

These marks were incorrectly attributed to the Frederick Hampson Glass Works, Salford, Lancashire, England, by author/researcher Julian Toulouse  in Bottle Makers and their Marks (1971), page 202.

Alice Creswick, in The Fruit Jar Works, illustrates wax sealer jars base-lettered  “F.H.” or “F.H.G.W.”, with various mold numbers centered below the initials (similar to the way in which the bottles are marked) and she attributed both markings to the Federal Hill Glass Works (also known as the Baltimore Glass Works), Baltimore, Maryland.     However, there is no evidence that Federal Hill ever marked any items with these initials.  Furthermore, Federal Hill Glass Works did not operate past 1870 (or 1873, according to one source), which is too early for the manufacture of the type of export beer bottles which carry the FHGW marking.   (See accompanying pic of typical “export beer” bottle — this picture is from a page on Bill Lindsey’s extensive website on antique bottles located here:  Beer Bottle Shapes).

Export type beer bottle - courtesy of Bill Lindsey

Typical “Export style” quart beer bottle , photo courtesy of Bill Lindsey

This type of bottle was not manufactured until approximately 1876, after Anheuser-Busch of St. Louis began the pasteurizing of beer which permitted it to be bottled and exported in large quantities throughout the U.S., and especially throughout the West.   Many other breweries in St.Louis marketed competing brands that were packaged in these typically shaped “generic” beer bottles — many of which were made by several glass plants located in St. Louis and the surrounding area.  Other bottle manufacturers that made similar bottles include Lindell Glass Company (see L.G.Co. mark), Mississippi Glass Company (M. G. Co. mark) as well as Adolphus Busch Glass Manufacturing Company (A.B.G.M.Co.) , Illinois Glass Company, Alton, Illinois (I G Co), Streator Bottle and Glass Company, of Streator, Illinois (S B & G CO), and a number of other glassmakers, primarily in the Midwestern states.

F.H. mark used by Frederick Heitz Glass Works, St. Louis. On base of wax sealer style fruit jar.

F.H. mark used by Frederick Heitz Glass Works, St. Louis. On base of quart wax sealer style fruit jar. (Full profile, below)

Typically, but not always, the glassworks initials are accompanied by a mold identification or “shop” number on the base of the container. As seen on the photos here, examples include “4” and “5” shop or mold numbers situated underneath the initials.   FHGW beer bottles have been found marked with a mold number ranging anywhere between 1 and 38! Drawings of such base markings can be seen illustrated in Bottles on the Western Frontier by Rex L. Wilson (1981, University of Arizona Press), page 115-117.  Those drawings represent actual bases (either shards or whole bottles) found at Fort Union, New Mexico during an archaeological excavation, and the bottles all dated sometime between 1863 and 1891.

F.H. marked wax sealer fruit jar.

F.H. base-marked wax sealer fruit jar .

FHGW / 4 beer bottle base - photo courtesy Dave Beeler

FHGW / 4 – Export beer bottle base, photo courtesy Dave Beeler

FHGW / 4 bottle base- San Elizario excavation - Bill Lockhart

F H G W / 4 ~ Export Beer bottle base, from San Elizario TX excavation, courtesy Bill Lockhart

FHGW mark on base of "pint" size beer bottle. The "F" is only partially visible on this example.

FHGW mark on base of “pint” size beer bottle. The “F” is only partially visible on this example.

Besides the fruit jars and beer bottles, some local soda bottles are found with an “F.H.” mark, including one marked “SPANNAGEL S & M W Co / S / EAST ST LOUIS / ILLS”.   On this example, the “F H” mark is rather faint, and located on the lower heel area opposite the primary marking.

Circular advertising auction of the Frederick Heitz Glass Works property, dated February 10, 1898. It is unclear how long a period of time ensued between the shut-down of the glass works, and the auction sale. The quantity of finished bottles on hand is remarkable: 162,288 quarts, and 188,640 pint beer bottles.  (Kind permission to copy this circular was granted courtesy of the owner of original, the Missouri History Museum, St. Louis, MO.)

Circular advertising auction of the Frederick Heitz Glass Works property, dated February 10, 1898. It is unclear how long a period of time ensued between the shut-down of the glass works, and the auction sale. The quantity of finished bottles on hand is remarkable: 162,288 quarts, and 188,640 pint beer bottles. (Kind permission to copy this circular was granted courtesy of the owner of original, the Missouri History Museum, St. Louis, MO.)

More information on the FHGW mark can be found in this article written by Bill Lockhart:  http://www.sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/BLockhart_FHGW.pdf .

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