Hobnail Votive Candle Cups / Candleholders


First type may be the examples marked “PAT. JULY 11, 1939”  

The “PAT. JULY 11, 1939” marked glass “candle cups” were made by Crescent Glass Company, Wellsburg, West Virginia (1908-19?), re-named Brooke Glass Company, dates of operation uncertain).

The great majority of the “hobnail” design votive candleholders, called “vigil candle tumblers” in the original patent design records, are unmarked with a smooth base or have embossings such as “Made in Hong Kong” or “Made in Taiwan“, often with a pattern of concentric rings.  These cups are often used as tealight holders, either singly or in groups, for decorative purposes.  The examples made in red and green glass, in particular, are often used in Christmas and other holiday season home decoration.

They are also frequently used as toothpick holders, and the distinction between these types of small candle holders and “true” toothpick holders is often blurred, with these types of candle cups becoming part of some glass toothpick holder collections.

(Note: this article concerns the “flat base” type of hobnail cup, not the stemmed type used in great numbers for wall sconces and candlelabras, although the information may apply to  both types. The flat base cups seem to be less common that the stemmed type).  No doubt many glass companies manufactured both types.

Group of 5 Hobnail Votive candle cups

Hobnail Votive Candle Cups (from left to right): Red or Reddish Amberina, marked “PAT JULY 11, 1939”; Cobalt Blue, marked “MADE IN TAIWAN”; Amber, marked “MADE IN U.S.A./10”; Aquamarine, marked “MADE IN TAIWAN”; Ruby red, smooth base with no markings.

They are found in a very wide array of colors, and have evidently been produced in large quantities since 1939 up until the present day.  Shades of red, greens, cobalt blue, light blue, white milkglass, clear, frosted clear, amber, purple, and many other colors are seen.  No doubt many unidentified glass makers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, (and probably Japan and China) have made these hobnail votive cups over the years.   The amber example shown in the photo above is marked “MADE IN U.S.A.” on the base, but the maker is currently unidentified.

Their high point in popularity seems to have been the 1960s and 1970s, but they are still being made even today.  Some of the more recent examples from the US were produced by Indiana Glass Company, of Dunkirk, Indiana.  New versions of these cups have been offered recently by such retail outlets as World Market.

This particular patent date marking appears to indicate the very first production of this type of candleholder, and refers to the design patent (#115,659) which was awarded to Henry Rithner, Jr, owner/manager of the Crescent Glass Company of Wellsburg.  (A search of Google Patents,  searching with the patent number 115659 will bring up information on the original design drawing and specs.)

The patent rights lasted for 14 years, so any of the candleholders which bear this patent marking assumedly date between 1939 and 1953.  Crescent Glass Company  reportedly made large quantities of ruby red glass for automobile taillights, bar glass candleholders and similar items.  I’ve seen this particular marked candle tumbler in ruby red (shown in pic) and clear glass, but it is likely other colors were produced.

If you have information about Crescent/ Brooke Glass Company and their current status, please contact me!   Also, I’m interested in learning the exact names of any glass companies in North America, Asia or elsewhere that have made these candleholders.  Any information would be appreciated, with proper credit given to the contributor.