On display in the Crystal City Gallery are two objects designed and cut by the Giometti Brothers. I was unfamiliar with the Giometti Brothers until recently, when a public inquiry led me to discover a bit about the company.
In the early 1870s, the Giometti family moved from Tuscany to Utica, NY, a town approximately 114 miles from Corning with an 1870 population close to 29,000. It can be assumed that the Giomettis chose to relocate to Utica in part because of the town’s large Italian immigrant population. The family immigrated with son Cherubino and in 1874, Lazare Clarence, Cherubino’s brother, was born. Later, both brothers Anglicized their names to Carbine and Lazarus Clarence, who went by Clarence.
In 1902, Carbine and Clarence opened a small glass cutting factory in Corning: Giometti Brothers. The company remained in Corning until 1907, when it was relocated to Watkins Glen, just 20 miles away. I’m unsure exactly why this move occurred, but by 1909, records indicate that the brothers had moved the company back to Corning, where it stayed until its closing in 1933.
As their billhead advertised, the Giometti Brothers were ‘Manufacturers of RICH CUT GLASS.’ Clarence, who had learned to cut glass at T.G.Hawkes & Co., was the designer and foreman, while his brother acted as bookkeeper and salesman for the company. At its peak, the Giometti Brothers employed about twenty-four workers. Since they were primarily a cutting firm, the Giometti Brothers did not hire engravers to work within their factory. Any special order that needed engraving was therefore sent to John N. Illig to be completed. Illig, originally from Alsace, France, was a skilled engraver who came to Corning to work first for Hawkes and later Sinclaire. Along with his work for these larger Corning firms, Illig owned his own business in which he executed engraving work for smaller companies such as Giometti Brothers.
In researching the company, I was impressed with Giometti Brothers’ ability to adapt to evolving tastes and technology. They worked closely with Marshall Field & Co. of Chicago to supply rich cut glasswares. In the 1920s, they began to cut floral designs on Pyrex brand glass, even holding two different patents for their designs. At one point during the company’s existence, flat glass work for automobiles was executed, although I was unable to find a corresponding date for this specific work. Yet despite the fact they were able to adjust their overall production to match market demand, the Giometti Brothers could not survive the Great Depression and the company closed its doors in 1933.
On display in the Crystal City Gallery are an Electric Lamp donated by Mrs. Matthew Cammen, the daughter of Claude Stowell, a local lawyer who was also an investor, part-time owner, and treasurer of Giometti Brothers, and a cut glass Billy Club made for Corning Police Chief Charles Hanmer upon his retirement. Be sure to look for these two objects on your next visit to the Museum!