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Friday, August 22, 2008

The Bottom of Things

Now you know there has to be a story behind an "ordinary" drinking glass that you find in so many NYC restaurants. I see this heavy duty glass with the five-sided base everywhere. I was a math and science person, so the pentagonal base always appealed to me. And I have spent years looking at them while waiting for a meal and admiring the style and heft while drinking from it. Rather attractive for something so common and utilitarian. Like the Chinese soup spoon. So I could stand it no longer - I need to know - who makes them and where? Is there anything special about them?
The problem is that no one really cares about a heavy duty commercial drinking glass, so to find information one has to really dig. Dig deep. An online search really isn't going to be easy. You are going to have to look at hundreds of images of beverage glasses for the restaurant industry and hope to get lucky or find your treasure through pure tenacity.
But find it I did after downloading and skimming a 124 page catalog. I believe our subject is made by Libbey Glass and is one of their Inverness Duratuff Tumblers. They make this style glass in a number of sizes. They also make a number of paneled (faceted) tumbler styles which are very recognizable. I feel so much better now after finally locating my quarry.
I never see these glasses break. From the Libbey literature you find: "DuraTuff treatment is a special thermal after-process for "pressed” tumblers and stemware that produces durable glassware with prolonged service life for the foodservice industry."
However, there is plenty more to know - the company (established in 1888), the history, the inventor, a timeline and why the base is five-sided. The pentagonal bottom is not even addressed in the Libbey catalog. Most things are forgotten except by a few. If I was doing a major story, I would call Libbey and find those few. In fact I would GO to their factory in Ohio, do some interviews and really get to the BOTTOM of that five-sided glass ...

5 comments:

Wayne said...

Inquiring minds demand to know.

All the things we take for granted. Apart from the age of the company what surprised me the most was the fact that they still manufacture in the States.

Nice work Brian.

babooshka said...

Strangely a very copmelling post to read. Now you've got me thinking for the next bar I'm in.

Haddix said...

To be awed by the mundane is truly a privilege.

exfactor said...

Childhood memories .. I grew up with Libbey Glassware on the table every night. My dad worked in the hotel/restaurant supply business and new Libbey glassware seemed to continually show up on the dinner table. I think I still have some from when we closed up the house.

Julian said...

Do go to Ohio. Visiting Libby Glass may be no big deal but the Art Institute in Toledo is a very good museum and they have an excellent permanent glass exhibit room that was funded by Libby.