Union Glass Company was located in Somerville, Massachusetts and operated from 1854 through 1927. It was the first glassmaking venture for the Houghton Family, who owned and operated the company until 1864. The company’s product changed over the years from utilitarian glass such as lamps, pressed tableware, silvered glass, and industrial objects, to a more luxurious product of fine-quality lead blanks for cutting and colored art glass. These three green vases, although plain, represent an important aspect of Union’s business.
Amongst the miscellaneous art glass produced at Union was a lucrative series of glass marketed to florists. “Garden” glass, as this line was also termed, comprised vases, bowls, decanters, and pitchers available to complement floral arrangements. The unique part of this line was designating names to certain shapes that held correlating flowers such as “Morning Glory,” “Lilac,” and “Forget-Me-Not.” Luxury goods like cut glass and exotic flowers were powerful symbols that conveyed social status in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The choice of flowers and the method in which they were displayed were the subject of many articles and books geared toward women in the mid-late nineteenth century. Learn more about the language of flowers in curator Kelly Conway’s post April Showers Bring May Flowers.