A Discovery of 1940s Italian Glass Journals

Workers using a semi-automated bottle machine. Il Vetro, 1.7-8 (July-Aug 1938): 240 (CMGL 37833).

Workers using a semi-automated bottle machine.
Il Vetro, 1.7-8 (July-Aug 1938): 240 (CMGL 37833).

Trade journals, that is, those journals issued by the manufacturing and retail trade, are sometimes overlooked and untapped resources for information and illustrations. We have just discovered in the Raymond Chambon collection many issues of Il Vetro, a glass manufacturing and retail trade journal published in Italy between 1938 and 1943. Only two other American libraries are known to have this journal.

Il Vetro (the Italian word for glass) was published under the auspices of several Italian glass organizations: Associazione nazionale degli industriali del vetro, Federazione nazionale fascista degli industriali del vetro, and Federazione nazionale fascista degli industriali della ceramica e del vetro. The journal was previously published as L’Industria del vetro e della ceramica; rassegna ufficiale delle federazioni nazionali fasciste delle industrie del vetro e della ceramicas; the New York Public Library is the only library in the United States to own issues from this former title.

When Italy entered World War II in 1940, their glass industry was flourishing. An interesting note: because Mussolini was in power, the journal’s year of publication was referred to by the year of his reign rather than the western calendar year. He was in power from 1922 until 1943, so, for example, the issues published in 1940 are actually labelled XVIII (18) instead of MCMXL (1940).

Il Vetro is a trade journal for many different types of glass – art glass, pressed tableware, bottles, stained glass, glass in architecture, mirrors, scientific glass, lamps, and much more. Companies featured include those based in Venice, Naples, Empoli, and Milan. Articles (many with illustrations) and advertisements include well-known names such as Seguso, Barovier & Toso, and Taddei. There is coverage of important exhibitions, including the Biennale in Venice and the Triennale in Milan.

Lighting fixtures by Barovier and Toso. Il Vetro, 2.7 (July 1939): 268 (CMGL 37833).

Lighting fixtures by Barovier and Toso. Il Vetro, 2.7 (July 1939): 268 (CMGL 37833).

We have an international collection of trade journals, but our Library’s primary collection is devoted to those published in the United States; major titles include China, Glass & Lamps, Crockery & Glass Journal, Jeweler’s Circular (also here), National Glass BudgetPottery, Glass and Brass Salesman, and Pottery Gazette and Glass Trade Review (published in England). For many of these titles, we track what we have in our collection as well as which volumes other libraries own.

Security glass used on a swing. Il Vetro, 1.9 (Oct 1938): XI (CMGL 37833).

Security glass used on a swing.
Il Vetro, 1.9 (Oct 1938): XI (CMGL 37833).

Using trade journals isn’t as easy as using a book. They don’t have indexes or tables of contents, they are not covered in indexes to periodicals, nor are they usually in the Library’s Glass Article Index. One must peruse each issue, learn what type of information is included, and ascertain where to find the index for advertisers in each issue (if there is one!). If you are lucky, you will find one paragraph about the firm in which you are interested, or perhaps an ad!

Researchers are welcome to visit the Rakow Library to consult our collection of trade journals.


The Rakow Research Library is open to the public 9am to 5pm every day. We encourage everyone to explore our collections in person or online. If you have questions or need help with your research, please use our Ask a Glass Question service.

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