THIS PAGE IS DEDICATED TO JOE ZARRO AND HIS WIFE DANA, I NEVER HAD THE PLEASURE OF MEETING JOE WHO HAS PASSED, BUT HAVE NEVER HEARD ANYTHING BUT GREAT STORIES. HE & AND DANA PUT TOGETHER A COLLECTION NOTHING LESS THAN IMPRESSIVE. I PICKED A FEW THAT DANA HAD PUT UP ON HER FACEBOOK PAGE AND SHE CONTINUE TO ADD WHEN SHE CAN. I CAN ONLY IMAGINE THE GREAT MEMORIES AND STORIES THAT DANA HOLDS OF THE BOTTLE COLLECTING ICON THAT WAS JOE ZARRO. THE BOTTLE COLLECTING COMMUNITY IS BETTER BECAUSE OF JOE AND HE WILL MISSED BY ALL WHO HAD THE PLEASURE OF KNOWING HIM. THANK YOU DANA FOR ALLOWING ME TO SHARE SOME OF HIS LEGACY HERE.~ OTHER COLLECTORS SUCH AS RICK CIRALLI HAVE BEEN GRACIUOS ENOUGH TO ALLOW ME TO SHARE SOME OF THEIR GREAT PITKIN PIECES AND THOSE ARE LABELED AS SUCH. THANKS EVERYBODY.
In 1783, Connecticut's General Assembly granted Captain Richard Pitkin and his sons a 25-year monopoly on manufacturing glass, as recompense for their providing gun powder, at a loss, to the Connecticut militia, 1775-1781. The Pitkin Glass Works, the first successful glass factory in Connecticut, was built in
Manchester (then the Orford Parish of East Hartford) on the Pitkin farm, now on the corner of Putnam and Parker Streets. Remaining in operation until about 1830, the factory produced demijohns for the West Indian trade, and bottles, flasks, inkwells and other small items, mostly in shades of green. These were considered to be the best color and design in the country. Rare today, Pitkin flasks have brought tens of thousands of dollars at auctions.
It is not known why the factory was closed down. Perhaps it was because of the cost of transporting sand from New Jersey, or because the firewood supply was decreasing with the growth of farming in the area. There may have been poor management, or increasing competition from other factories once the monopoly expired. Gradually, the massive stone building fell into disrepair.
In 1928, Mr. And Mrs. Fred W. Pitkin and others of the Horace Pitkin family quit-claimed the property to the Orford Parish Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Finding the cost of maintenance a burden, a suggestion was made in 1977 that it be sold for commercial purposes.
A group of interested citizens, led by Mr. Edson Bailey, protested this possibility, and formed a committee to preserve this historic site for the community.
Pitkin Glass Works BottlePitkin Glass Works Inc. (the Corporation) was organized, with executive officers, and five representatives from the Orford Parish Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution; five representatives from the Manchester Historical Society, Inc.; and five representatives from the citizenry at large. Papers were filed for incorporation, and by-laws were drawn up. The site was approved for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
Since then, the Corporation has overseen the landscaping of the area, and installed a flagpole with a flag that has flown over our national capitol. The monumental stone ruins have been stabilized by repointing the stonework and replacing the wood lintels.
In the 1980s, students from Central Connecticut State University made a preliminary archaeological dig, but only shards of glass and pottery were found. In recent years, several archaeological digs have been carried out by middle school, high school and university students under the direction of the state archaeologist. Numerous pieces of bottles, flasks and inkwells have been discovered and cataloged. The fragments have confirmed the characteristics of the products made here.
All the funds to support the work of the Corporation have been raised by the generosity of private benefactors, or through the sale of replicas of a Pitkin flask and an inkwell, and pendants made from fragments of glass. An illustrated hard-cover book by Dr. William E. Buckley, "A History of the Pitkin Glass Works," has also been published.
The Corporation remains active, carrying out its mandate to maintain and preserve this part of our heritage for future generations.
Pitkin-type flasks were made at several New England, Midwestern (Ohio), and Mid-Atlantic (NJ and PA) factories. The name Pitkin has become a generic one for all flasks blown with a half-post. None of them were marked, so that it is about impossible to know what factory produced them, but those that were blown at Pitkin have certain characteristics to their glass and pontil scar.
Dana writes: "A well-known dealer/collector acquired this awesome 36-rib pattern mold several years ago and brought it today to share with us. It's made of bronze but PURE GOLD!"
Please to pay out of puplic Treasury to the
Slelect men of Stoningtown the Sum of Four pounds,
Seven Shillings and Six pence lawfull money (the Avails
of the 12) Tax payable in April last, for Supporting
William Wetson one of the States poor as allowed in
.... Wm Pitkin Clerk
Hartford May 30th 1783
HERE IS A RARE FLASK FROM THE COLLECTION OF MICHAEL GEORGE, WHAT A WORK OF ART. ON THE RIGHT IS A REAL BEAUTY AND RARE AS WELL PITKIN FROM THE DANIEL BALDWIN COLLECTION THAT HE JUST ACQUIRED
Whether manufacturing glass in this state will not be for the public emolument of the same; and if it be thought an object worthy the attention of your Honors, they will, if properly encouraged, erect works and pursue said business. Money out of the public treasury in this distressing day, we do not expect; but an exclusive right to such manufacture, such length of time as may be thought proper to save them the great expense that will be necessary in buildings, &c. for said purpose, &c. And if the proposal meets your Honors' approbation, we pray a committee to hear your memorialists in the premises, and report, or any other way, &c.
WM. PITKIN . ? : SAMUEL BISHOP.
Hartford, January 28th, 1783. (Industry II. 179.)
Referred to a committee, who report. (179.)
It will be a benefit to this state, to grant to the memorialists an exclusive right of manufacturing glass, for the term of 25 years, from and after the time they shall begin the first blast. And that the memorialists ought to be exempted from all assessments on account of the profits which may arise by manufacturing glass for the term of 10 years, from the rising of this Assembly.
Granted, on condition they begin manufacturing within three years.
(Industry U. 180.) To the Honorable, tfc. Oct. i789.
The memorial of George Pitkin, Richard Pitkin, Wm. Pitkin, Jr., George Pitkin, Jr., and Richard Pitkin, Jr. of East Hartford, &c.; Aaron Bissel, ' Epaphias Bissell, and Daniel Ellsworth of East Windsor, and George Hale of Glastenbury, See., humbly sheweth:
That your memorialists, conceiving that the erecting of glass works would be of public utility, and hoping they would prove to be of private advantage, have been at great expense in erecting buildings and furnaces, and providing materials, and procuring workmen for the purpose of establishing and carrying on a glass factory. That besides, &c, they have been subjected to great losses and disappointments, by means of one Robert Hughs of Boston, who entered into partnership with the memorialists, and engaged to furnish a large proportion of the stock for carrying on said factory ; and who having induced your memorialists to believe, that he was a «person well skilled in the aforesaid manufactory, was by them appointed and employed to superintend, and direct the business of their glass works; but the said Hughs utterly failed ©f furnishing stoek, and also proved by his subsequent eonduct, te be totally skilled in the business of said factory. And the memorialists weuld further represent to your- Honors, that the expense of carrying on said factory is greater than they expected, &c. That notwithstanding the aforesaid losses and disappointments, as the memorialists possess buildings, and have a considerable stock on hand, to be employed in said factory, they have proceeded to engage a number of workmen, and with such encouragement as might be afforded by the Legislature, without being burdensome to the public, they think they might prosecute their usdertaking with success. The memorialists, conceiving that the prosperity of the State is intimately connected with the introduction and improvement of manufactures, and that the making of glass is one of the most important manufactures that can be introduced among us, &c, pray your Honors to interpose and grant them a lottery for the purpose of raising the sum of £400, &c. ' GEORGE PITKIN, et. ah.
East Hartford, Oct. 6, 1789. (Industry II. 239.)
Lottery so granted, and managers appointed. (240.)
PICTURE 1 Cross-swirled ink, unique at this time.
PICTURE 2 Mid-Atlantic Pitkin, ex-Geo. McConnell collection, vertical ribs
PICTURE 3 Mid-West Cross-Swirled, unique at this time
PICTURE 4 Cross-swirled New England Pitkin, one of 4 known.
PICTURE 5 Mid-Atlantic, ex-Charles Gardner collection, rare form Cross-Swirled New England Pitkin, 1 of 4 known
PICTURE 6 New England Pitkin, ex-Vanderbilt collection
PICTURE 1 5 New England Pitkins in muted NE colors
PICTURE 2 2 Midwestern Pitkins in bright MW colors and forms
PICTURE 3 2 New England Pitkins in unusual colors and small size, 4-1/4" and 3-3/4"
PICTURE 4 2 New England Pitkins with swirls gone awry
PICTURE 5 3 New England Pitkins in similar form, showing skill of both mold cutter and glass blower