Bakewell, Pears & Co. 1808-1882
Benjamin Bakewell, and Englishman, founded the firm that was the best known of all the Pittsburgh glass companies that was also recognized as the oldest glasshouse west of the Allegheny Mountains. The firm underwent nine name changes due to many associations with the Bakewell and Pears families.
Bakewell’s first factory was located at the corner of Water and Grant streets in downtown Pittsburgh. Both the factory and warehouse were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1845, but the plant was rebuilt at the same site. The factory was moved in 1854 across the Monongahela River to Bingham Street on Pittsburgh’s South Side where it operated until 1882 when Oliver Brothers, wire manufacturers, purchased the site.
Bakewell was known for the quality of its lead or “flint” glass, fine cut and engraved glass, window glass, bottles, lamps, chemical ware and apothecary shop equipment. In its later years the firm produced blown urns and jars, fish bowls, lanterns, smoke bells, and pressed glass patterns that bore names like Argus, Thistle, Prism, Rochelle, Icicle and Saxon.
The firm was one of the first to patent the pressing process and produced fine pressed wares—pressed furniture knobs and window pane—with the Bakewell mark. Bakeswell achieved international attention when the principals presented two cut glass vases to General Lafayette during his visit to Pittsburgh in 1825. His letter expressing his thanks for the gift is in the Archives of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. A large bowl exhibited at the Philadelphia Centennial that won a metal in 1875 is part of the Corning Glass Museum’s collections.
Bakewell closed its door in 1882.