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Fragile and Fanciful

Fragile and Fanciful

In the last two decades of the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th century, glass manufacturing was a unique enterprise in Canada. Beginning with the founding of the Nova Scotia Glass Company in 1881, the glass factories of Nova Scotia made clear tableware at a time when it was not made anywhere else in Canada.

By the 1800s, people had been making glass for more than 4,000 years. Before that, however, the mass production of glass was not technically possible. Pressing machines to produce glass shapes were invented in the 1830s in New England. As mechanization improved, decorated glassware could be produced relatively quickly and affordably. By the late 1880s, moulded and pressed glass was produced in Pennsylvania and Ohio, in New England, and, perhaps not surprisingly, in Nova Scotia.

In this beautifully illustrated book, featuring photographs of the highly collectable patterned tableware produced during this 40-year period, Deborah Trask tells the story of Nova Scotia glass during this golden age of pressed-glass production.

Employing her skills as a curator and a detective of sorts, she tells the story of the major glass factories — the Nova Scotia Glass Company, the Humphrey Glass Company, and the Lamont Glass Company — and provides crucial information on patterns and moulds, allowing readers and collectors to identify what remains of this glittering enterprise.


Deborah Trask was on the curatorial staff of the Nova Scotia Museum for 30 years, among many other responsibilities, she curated the glass and bottle collections. Upon her retirement as curator of buildings and operations, she was named a curator emeritus of the Nova Scotia Museum. She lives in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia.

120 pages
Pub date: May 27, 2011