Southern Glass Works, Louisville, Kentucky


Louisville, Kentucky  (1877-c.1885)


(Note: the following article was originally published in the Summer 2005  issue of “Bottles & Extras” magazine.  This is basically the same article, but with a few slight edits and some additional text and photos.  To see the accompanying pictures that were posted in the magazine, see the original article here.


SOUTHERN GLASS COMPANY, dba “Stanger & Company” (1877-c.1879).    SOUTHERN GLASS WORKS (c.1879- c.1885).

This factory site was located on the northwest corner of 11th Street and Monroe (now Rowan)  Streets in Louisville.

John Stanger, Sr. , formerly connected with the Kentucky Glass Works/Louisville Glass Works (1850-1873), as well as the the Star Glass Works of New Albany, IN, teamed up  with veteran glassblower Charles Doyle, (his son-in-law, who had married his daughter Rebecca in 1866) to start up a new firm doing business as “John Stanger & Company” (or just “Stanger & Company” as worded in a newspaper ad)  in 1877.

The factory name was referred to as either Southern Glass Company or Southern Glass Works, although the former name seemed to have been preferred in the first year or two of business.  HOWEVER, both names were probably used, to some extent,  interchangeably throughout the entire span of time they were in business.

Others involved in the company were:  John Stanger, Jr, Joseph Husak, Frederick Rau, Patrick Daly, Charles Thomasson, Philip Zell, Conrad Opperman and Joseph Markel  Stanger (also a son of John, Sr.).

John Schaupp, Thomas F. Stanger, Daniel Powell, John Zell, Edward Koegler, George P. Hess, Henry Geisel,  Isaac  Delph, James Cunliffe, Charles Cannon, Michael Doyle, and John Rau were some of the glassblowers who were employed there at one time or another.

Other workers included William Woerner (watchman), Peter Kasheimer (fireman), John Pfarr and William Woods (packers) and Jacob Court (potmaker).  Incidentally, in 1888 glassblower John Rau was to become involved in the start-up of the Fairmount Glass Works at Fairmount, Indiana, and later (at least by 1904), was president of that company with several of his sons involved in the operation as well.

John Stanger held the position of superintendent of the window glass department of W.C. DePauw’s “Star Glass Works” in New Albany, Indiana during the c.1871-1877 stretch and evidently decided to embark upon yet another venture, as a leading man, on the Louisville side of the Ohio River.

According to the CROCKERY & GLASS JOURNAL, an early trade magazine of the glass manufacturing industry, in the August 23, 1877 issue, mention is made that the first bottle production was scheduled to start about ten days later (September 2, 1877).

A brief newspaper ad first appeared for this company in the Louisville Courier Journal, dated Dec 2, 1877.

An advertisement also appeared a few months later (in the 1878 city directory) which reads:

“Southern Glass Company–Cor. Eleventh and Monroe Streets–Near the Canal–Louisville, KY.  Our new company is now well established and in full operation. All orders for wine, ale, beer and mineral water bottles, and also for flasks for druggists, and fruit jars, will be promptly filled at lowest rates. We also keep on hand a large stock of the above named goods. Our goods can not be surpassed by those from other factories. We employ only the most competent workmen. Stanger & Co.”

Sometime in either 1879 or 1880, John Stanger, Sr, departed and T. H. Sherley & J. G. McCulloch then became proprietors of the works.   J. L. (John Lewis) McCulloch was listed as bookkeeper, but his relationship to J.G. isn’t clear at this time. (John Lewis McCulloch was to become part owner of the Marion Fruit Jar & Bottle Company of Marion, Indiana, in 1888).

Southern Glass Works Ad - 1880

Southern Glass Works ad – 1880

Under the firm name “Sherley & McCulloch” , the period of about 1880 to 1883 seems to have been the most prosperous time for this company, with a large variety of bottles and jars being produced.

Embossed identification marks used by Southern Glass Company on various articles (always found on the base) include:

1) SOU.G.W. (Wax sealer fruit jars)

2) SOU.G.WS. (Square pickle bottles)

Southern Glass Works - Two pickle bottles

Two aqua pickle bottles made by Southern Glass Works. Left: 8 & 1/2″ tall, marked “SOU. G. WS.” Right: 7 inches tall, marked “S.G.W.LOU.KY.”


3) S. G. W. LOU. KY  (Wax sealer jars, medicines, pickle bottles, cathedral peppersauces, cylinder whiskies, hutchinson mineral water & soda bottles, many others)

4) S.G.Co. (Chemical bottles, Wax sealer jars, “Ginger ovals” [oval-shaped medicine bottles often used for blueing], John J. Smith / Louisville, KY tonic bottles)

5) S.G.W. (Pumpkinseed style liquor flasks)

SOU.G.WS. mark on base of larger pickle bottle

SOU.G.WS. mark on base of larger pickle bottle.

S.G.W. LOU. KY. mark on base of small pickle bottle

S.G.W. LOU. KY. mark on base of smaller pickle bottle.

All of the Southern Glass Company bottles I’ve encountered have applied lips (that is, a ring of glass has been added in a second step to form the lip of the bottle, but with no further “tooling” evident which would have otherwise smoothed over the clearly visible line of separation between the lip and the body of the bottle), and they usually show a rather crudely-made appearance more characteristic of the bottles of a somewhat earlier period of time (i.e. the Civil War era).  They often contain very prominent bubbles as well as smaller seed and tear bubbles, and exhibit “drippy lips”,swirl or “whittle” marks, faint amber wisps, and other irregularities so attractive to the antique bottle collector.

Presumably the “S.G.Co.” marking was used mostly in the first two years or so of operation, although it is likely that some of the bottle molds with that marking were used into later years until they wore out.

John J Smith bottle - S.G.CO. on base

John J. Smith / Louisville KY bottle – S.G.CO. on base.

(The S.G.CO. marking was also used by several other glass companies,  including the Scranton Glass Company, Scranton, Pa.;  Southern Glass Company of Los Angeles, Calif. (1916-1931) ;  and the Severn Glass Company of Annapolis, Maryland.       Swayzee Glass Company of Swayzee, Ind. also used an “S.G.CO.” but always in the form of a monogram which appears only on fruit jars.)

In the case of the Louisville-made bottles, I suggest that if a bottle or jar seen with this mark is handblown with a true applied lip, is crudely made, aqua, is basemarked, and was found in the Louisville and surrounding area of Kentucky and southern Indiana, it is likely to be a product of Southern Glass Works.

S.G.CO. mark on base of John J. Smith bottle

Base of John J. Smith bottle

Some notable bottles with the “S. G. W. LOU. KY” mark include a variant of the” K C & CO” hutch sodas (Klee, Coleman & Company, bottlers of mineral water with offices in Dayton, OH and Louisville, KY);   Ameliorated Schiedam Holland Gin;  S.S. Clarke’s Diamond Family Tonic/ R.H.Higgins  & Co.;  Brown, Thompson & Company whiskey; and  Thos. A. Hurley’s Compound Syrup of Sarsaparilla.


Southern Glass Works made containers in shades of aqua, green, several shades of amber, and (rarely) cobalt blue. The most common color, by far, is aqua (blueish-green), and many slightly different shades of aqua can be seen by comparing various bottles.  Cylinder whiskey bottles are seen in amber. One example of a “K C & Co” soda bottle is known in a medium green color.  Several wax sealer jars are known in shades of light green and amber.

I can state with 100% certainty that at least a few cobalt blue bottles were made by Southern Glass Works. I have an  upper portion of a “ginger oval” type bottle — the typical shape of older JAMAICA GINGER bottles — in cobalt. Although the base portion — thus the glass manufacturer’s mark — are missing, from close examination of that shard, it matches perfectly with an entire bottle in aqua. The mold used to form the bottle had several tiny imperfections (small bumps and indentations) that were unique to that mold, and comparing the shard with a complete aqua example, it is obvious the cobalt shard was from the same mold. The bottle would be embossed “S. G. W. / LOU. KY.” on the base. If you have seen a complete bottle of this type, or know someone who has one, please contact me as I would love to obtain a photo of that bottle.

Aqua "Jamaica Ginger" style medicine or bluing bottle, and cobalt shard from same mold. Base-marked "S.G.W. LOU.KY."

Aqua “Jamaica Ginger” style medicine or bluing bottle, and cobalt shard from same mold. Base-marked “S.G.W. LOU.KY.”

"S.G.W. LOU. KY." base marking on aqua "Jamaica Ginger" type medicine/utility bottle.

“S.G.W. LOU. KY.” base marking on aqua “Jamaica Ginger” type medicine/utility bottle, shown above.

It is also possible  (but not proven!) that Southern Glass Works was the maker of the very rare Louisville whiskey “pig bottle” which is known in cobalt blue. At this time, only 2 examples are known in cobalt. Because of the time period when they were made, the likely manufacturer was either Southern Glass Works or Kentucky Glass Works Company, also of Louisville.




The Southern Glass Works was certainly not in operation for at least part of the time during the years 1884 and 1885. No individual employee listings were found for glassblowers employed by Southern in the city directories from those two years, although the company itself was still listed in the business section.  All glassblowers employed by Southern in 1883 are listed as employed elsewhere in ‘84 and ‘85 so I assume that the factory was not actually in operation for all or much of the time during the period, or at least during the period of time when the data for the city directories was being collected.

According to 1884 city directory listings, some of the SGW employees were listed as then working at the Falls City Glass Company, and I feel this serves as strong evidence that the Southern Glass Works shut down operations at some undetermined point in time during 1884, and in fact may have continued to remain idle into the early months of 1885.

In the spring of 1885 this factory re-opened for a short time under the name “Louisville Glass Works Company”, as discussed below:

Louisville Glass Works Company (c. April 1885-January 1886)

A listing for the “Louisville Glass Works Company” appears in the 1886 Louisville city directory. This company was a re-opening of the Southern Glass Works factory location at 11th and Monroe streets, with a new—and confusingly similar—firm name.

Joseph M. (Markel) Stanger, son of John Stanger, Sr., was listed as the superintendent, and a number of the employees of the Southern Glass Works operation were employed there as well.

The operation evidently was quite unsuccessful,  and in January of 1886 an item appeared in the COURIER JOURNAL stating that two employees, George Coleman & John Flynn, both glassblowers, were suing the defunct company in Common Pleas court for wages due them which they had not received.

No marked bottles or jars are known as far as I am aware, but there is a good likelihood they continued to use some of the old molds with the Southern Glass markings on them.  One reference (Henry Charles Edelen, Nineteenth-Century Kentucky Glass, April 1974 issue, Magazine Antiques),  states that they produced bottles with an “LGWC” entertwined logo, but I know of no evidence to show there is any truth to that statement and I suspect this to be a non-existent (or mis-attributed) mark.

The Sanborn fire insurance maps shows the old factory was in “ruins” in 1892.  By 1905 the Sanborn maps indicate the building was no longer in existence and Illinois Central  Railroad tracks then covered much of the site.

The location where this factory once stood is very close to the Interstate 64 highway which passes just a few feet north of the site.

For more information on  Louisville-area glass, please see this page.

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4 Responses to Southern Glass Works, Louisville, Kentucky

  1. Nick says:

    I have a bottle and I am trying to date and find area of birth it has texize on the side and lgw 5 on bottom n

  2. d wiesen says:

    just found the bottom and parts of a jar, i think, from the sgw lou ky while digging out a portion of my basement. house was built in 1907. numerous other bottles and crocks have been found…2 nice complete mason jars, a soda from enid,ok, food bottles, 3 crocks, and some other embossed food jars.

  3. Jeremy says:

    Do you have any thing on RIVO Cola of Louisville,KY dark amber color straight sided crown top.

    • David says:

      Hi Jeremy,
      There isn’t alot of info on this brand, but here’s what I’ve been able to glean so far: Rivo was a brand of sodas marketed and sold in the Louisville Ky area by Merchant’s Ice & Cold Storage Company. Most of the bottles appear to have been made sometime in the 1910-1920 period. Known glass manufacturers who made them include Root Glass Company, Terre Haute, IN, (R G CO) and D.O.Cunningham of Pittsburgh (D.O.C.). There are no doubt bottles with other makers’ marks out there also. (None of the Rivo bottles were actually made IN Louisville, as by that time all glass bottle makers in Louisville had long been out of business). Rivo-Cola was one of the many, many local and regional competitors to Cola-Cola. I’ve seen bottles in dark amber and “coca-cola bottle green” or “light green aqua”. They are practically identical in style to the early “straight sides” Coca-Cola bottles of the 1910s.

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