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The Pilgrim Glass Corporation was established in Huntington by Alfred Knobler. The factory was later located in nearby Ceredo, with its sales office in New Jersey.

Knobler, who had left Virginia Polytechnic Institute with a degree in ceramic engineering during the Great Depression, found work as a salesman for Trenton Potteries in New Jersey. One of his suppliers was Tri-State Glass Manufacturing Company in Huntington. Its owner, Walter Bailey, could not get enough natural gas in the winter so he wanted to sell the business. Knobler convinced Columbia Gas to extend a larger pipeline to the company, and in 1949 he created the Pilgrim Glass Corporation from Tri-State’s modest facilities. He opened the new plant on Walker Branch Road in Ceredo in 1956.

During the early years, Pilgrim’s main product was hand-blown crackle glass in a variety of colors. The onion-skin or crackle effect was achieved by immersing the hot piece in cold water and then reheating it. In the mid-1950s, two brothers from Italy, Alessandro and Roberto Moretti, came to work at Pilgrim. When Knobler saw their remarkable skill in making off-hand novelties, he added a series of glass animals to the Pilgrim line. Alessandro (Sandy) is now retired and Roberto has died, but brother-in-law Mario Sandon continued to create glass animals and other sculptures until the plant closed.

In 1968, plant manager Karel Konrad introduced cranberry glass, and the company became the largest producer of cranberry glass in the world. And after the mid-1980s, cameo glass was produced at Pilgrim under the supervision of Kelsey Murphy and Robert Bomkamp.

The Pilgrim Glass Company continued for more than 50 years, closing in 2002 when the aging Knobler was unable to find a purchaser.

This Article was written by Tom D. Miller

Last Revised on October 22, 2010

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Sources

McKeand, Robert G. & Thomas O'Connor. A Formula for Success: The Pilgrim Glass Story. Glass Collector's Digest, (Oct.-Nov. 1990).

Eige, G. Eason. "Pilgrim's New Cameo Glass," Bulletin. National Early American Glass Club, 1992.

Cite This Article

Miller, Tom D. "Pilgrim Glass." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 22 October 2010. Web. 10 December 2018.

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