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Published: Sunday, 8/24/2014 - Updated: 1 month ago

LOCAL COLLECTORS CLUB

Tiffin museum celebrates the art of glassmaking

More than 1,000 items on display

BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The archival room of the museum is devoted to pieces for sale from members of the Tiffin Glass Collectors Club. The archival room of the museum is devoted to pieces for sale from members of the Tiffin Glass Collectors Club.
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TIFFIN — A downtown museum devoted to nearly a century of locally made glassware now displays the tools used to make the delicate pieces at the former Tiffin factory.

The Tiffin Glass Museum pays homage to the company that made the Seneca County city a well-known name among glass collectors.

Since 1998, the museum has occupied storefront space, where it displays Tiffin glassware. This month, it moved into a third adjoining storefront, where tools and molds used to create the glass fill shelves and cases.

Walk in the door of the South Washington Street museum and cabinets full of glittering glassware first catch the eye. Arranged carefully on shelves are more than 1,000 pieces of glass made in Tiffin.

Paul Coffman, president of the Tiffin Glass Collectors Club, shows different glassmaking tools in the new archival room. Paul Coffman, president of the Tiffin Glass Collectors Club, shows different glassmaking tools in the new archival room.
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A.J. Beatty & Sons opened the factory at Fourth Avenue and Vine Street in 1889. The city wooed the company with a promise of five years of natural gas plus cash and land, according to historical accounts. After several ownership and name changes, including Tiffin Glass Company Inc. and Tiffin Crystal, production stopped in 1980, according to a history of the factory.

During the glass manufacturer’s heyday, it had sales offices in London; Mexico City, Mexico; Sydney, and Havana, Cuba.

One room in the museum is devoted to pieces for sale from members of the Tiffin Glass Collectors Club, which operates the site.

The museum’s newest addition is the archival room. Large tong-like implements, used for handling hot glass, hang from a pegboard. A many-drawered tool box used by a former factory worker, silk screen designs, and press molds, including the Tiffin shield, are also showcased.

“The new archival room has several different kinds of molds that were used to make the various kinds of glass, the hand tools that were used to handle it, the blowpipes and the gathering tools,” said Paul Coffman, the club’s president. “These are tools that were donated to the museum from various former workers and club members over the years, and we have been able to purchase a few items, although they are getting more scarce as time progresses.”

A mold makers toolbox is  among the items displayed in  the new archival room. A mold makers toolbox is among the items displayed in the new archival room.
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Black and white photographs of former factory employees at work illustrate how the various tools were used.

The pictures, which date to about 1950, once hung in the factory hallways and executive offices. When the facility closed, some were kept by the people in the pictures, and throughout the years the museum has purchased some and had others donated, said museum director Ruth Hemminger.

The archival room adds another dimension.

“As far as the tools and old molds and the different types of things that they used for decorating, it’s interesting, and it kind of helps people to understand a little bit better how it is was made,” she said.

The club has more than 100 members nationwide, and the museum attracts about 2,000 visitors annually to its roughly 3,000-square-foot space, Mr. Coffman said.

Admission is free, though the museum does accept donations. It is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.



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