In the blink of an eye it was over. After approximately 65 years in the pattern glass business, the L.G. Wright Company was gone. New Martinsville, West Virginia had lost another of its once great glass companies. It took almost a week for the final chapter in the L.G. Wright Glass Company history to be written. It started Tuesday, May 25, 1999, with two days of previews. On May 27th at 9:00 am, the sale began.
The L.G. Wright home was auctioned first. It consisted of 5,000 square feet with features such as solid cherry walls made from trees on Mr. Wright's farm. The high bid was $90,000. Then the Company buildings, consisting of about 40,000 square feet with two loading docks, were offered. High bid was $100,000. They then put both parcels together and they brought $200,000. The estate would not sell at this price, but a reported agreement was reached at $300,000.
Next came the mould sales. There were several prominent figures from today's glass business present: Frank Fenton of Fenton Art Glass Co., Tom and John Weishar of Island Mould Company, Tom Mosser and son of Mosser Glass. Other notable buyers were from Alladin Lamp Company, Castle Reproductions/Imports, and A&A Imports. Castle and A&A reportedly send moulds overseas to have items made.
Although I tried to record who, what and how much was paid for the moulds, sometimes the auction moved so quickly that it was difficult to keep up. The moulds ranged in price from $30 to $10,000. Most brought between $400 and $500. All the "Moon and Star" moulds were purchased by Tom and John Weishar, except for the decanter and wine glass moulds, which were purchased by Fenton, and an Adams-style water pitcher, reported to have been purchased by Castle.
Tom Mosser, along with Weishar and Fenton, were heroes of the day. Most engaged in some fierce bidding to keep some of our patterns here in the United States. Tom got most, if not all, of the Eyewinkler, panel grape and cherry patterns, along with some "Daisy and Button" moulds. A list is being compiled, but my suspicion is that before long we may see many of the items made from the moulds with the "Made in China" stickers on them.
There was a surprisingly small crowd of 125-175 people in attendance for the glassware auction beginning Friday afternoon. The auction began with tables that were from the house, followed by personal glass items from the estate. Bids were reasonable as the items were not extremely rare. The first item to generate excitement was the ruby "Moon and Star" Adam-style pitcher. Bidding opened around $600 with phoned-in bids, but when the smoke cleared, the final price was $1,600 plus the 10% buyers premium. Following this item was a similar amber pitcher that was somewhat of a letdown, selling at $700 plus 10%.
There were many lamps, made from parts that had never been used and were put together at the last minute and sold at auction. Most sold at $300-$400 with some bringing $3,000-$4,000.
I wish I could have recorded all the items from the museum, but I only recorded the "Moon and Star" items. Bidding went very fast. About 7:00 pm, the auction of the museum items ended, leaving thousands of items to be sold. Since there was no scheduled auction for Sunday, attendance was smaller, with only 50-75 people attending. the remainder left for auction included lamps, box lots of items, and equipment. One warehouse had thirty or so bins of parts with most being lids for all kinds of items. Over the five days of the auction, we met several people. As there were hundreds of lids in these bins, we exchanged lids, because few of us wanted 300 of the same lid! I think I ended up with parts of 20 bins which will keep men in "lid heaven" for a long time. The auction ended about six or seven o'clock on Sunday, leaving all of us exhausted after a week long ordeal.
Now that I have had time to let the event sink in, I feel that it was very exciting and a once in a lifetime event. Knowing what I know now, I would have done several things differently, which I guess means I would have bought more. My wife (and co-author of " Mysteries of the Moon and Star" ) was ill during the entire event and missed almost everything.
As exciting as it was, I must say I felt sad that a man's dream and 65 years of work were all gone. However, I feel that the thousands of collectors who have saved and shared the wonderful items Wright produced will allow him to live on after most of us are gone and forgotten.
Editor's Note: We are delighted to have George as a guest columnist. We regret to have to abbreviate his report. We will be featuring "Moon and Star" pattern in a future issue. This was a very significant event in American glass history. Thanks for sharing it with all of us.
Webmaster's Note: This article was taken from the publication "Glass and More, August 1999" with permission from the publisher, Dr. Leonette Walls.