These initials on the bottom of antique glass containers usually indicate products made by Mississippi Glass Company, St. Louis, Missouri (c.1874-1884+) and in some cases possibly Missouri Glass Company, St. Louis, MO (c.1859-1911).
Mississippi Glass Company specialized in making “export beer” bottles, wax sealer fruit jars, and other “green glass” bottles, and although it was in business much later than 1884, reportedly no bottles were made after that year, as they subsequently concentrated on producing flat window and plate glass, specializing in industrial “wire glass”. This type of flat glass contained wire (similar or identical to chicken wire) embedded within the glass in various patterns. That type of glass was heavily used in factory construction. They continued in business for many years, evidently into the 1950s or even later, with several other glass manufacturing plants located elsewhere. This webpage is only concerned with their early container production, however.
Most of the wax sealer fruit jars embossed with the initials “M. G. CO. ” on the base are probably products of Mississippi Glass Co. (It is possible that some of them marked “M.G.CO.” were made by Missouri Glass Company, mentioned farther down on this page, but it is still unclear if this is so).
Those wax sealer jars appear to date, in general, from the 1870s and 1880s. In some cases, the “G” looks quite similar to a “C”, although there is always a slight difference between the two letters, with the “G” having a faint “tail” or slight serif on the lower right-hand side of the letter. This is especially noticeable on the base of some of their beer bottles, and the photo shown below is an example.
Below is an excerpt from the “History of Saint Louis City and County: From the Earliest Periods, Volume 2” pg. 1284, John Thomas Scharf (1883). He writes: “The Mississippi Glass Company, of which George D. Humphreys is the principal proprietor, has works on Angelica Street near Second. The chief products are green glassware, such as pickle-jars, fruit-jars, sauce-bottles, etc., the demand for which is very large in the city. The company have enlarged the works to enable them to meet the demands for the wares which are produced. There are about one hundred and twenty persons employed in the establishment. The sand used comes from Franklin, and the soda ash is imported from England. The lead used is obtained in St. Louis. This company does not attempt to make clear glassware. The demand for the products of the factory is very large. It was established about 1872.” (Note: I believe the beginning year date is off by a year or two, but perhaps other sources of information will eventually clarify this for certain).
Another brief quote, this passage from Yearbook & Trade Review (Year Book of the Commercial, Banking and Manufacturing Interests of St. Louis), 1882-83 issue, page 106 :
“The Mississippi Glass Company; President, Edward Walsh. Run 2 Siemens regenerator furnaces and Elliott producers. Specialties: green ware, beer bottles, fruit jars, and druggist’s packing bottles; furnaces: one of 8 pots and one of 6 pots. Their trade is west of St. Louis and as far east as Indianapolis. They employ 250 men and boys at a cost for wages of $125,000 annually, and their total out put is about $250,000.”
MISSOURI GLASS COMPANY
Missouri Glass Company was principally a glassware distributor in later years, selling large quantities of imported cut glass, high-end tableware, creamware, queensware, pottery, lamps and similar items. However, they definitely manufactured some bottles and jars, at least in the very early years of operation. Some fruit jars are known with the initials “Mo. G. Co.”
NOTE: Some MGCO items might be from either Muncie Glass Company, Muncie, Indiana (1888-1906), Modes Glass Company, Cicero, Indiana (c.1895-1900), or Millgrove Glass Company, Millgrove, Indiana (1898-1911), although I am very doubtful about these last three companies listed. Julian Toulouse (Bottle Makers and their Marks, 1971) writes (pages 359-361) that both Modes and Millgrove used the M G CO mark. But he gives no information to indicate exactly how he came to that conclusion. Concerning the Muncie Glass Company, Toulouse states they used “M B Co” on their glass, which I also find to be questionable. Perhaps more intensive research will shed light on the marks used by these 3 last-mentioned companies (assuming they even used any identification on their containers).
Click on these links to go to some other pages about Saint Louis, MO area glass companies / marks: L.G.CO. mark (Lindell Glass Company) , F.H.G.W. mark (Frederick Heinz Glass Works) , G.W. (Great Western Glass Company) and I in a diamond mark (Illinois Glass Company).
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