Sandwich Glass Museum
The Sandwich Glass Museum on Cape Cod commemorates the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company, which operated in Sandwich between 1825 and 1888. The Boston & Sandwich Glass Company was one of the first factories in the world to produce pressed, lead-based glass. While the factory was in operation, it was known for its brightly colored tableware, lamps, and perfume bottles.
Deming Jarves, a former agent for the New England Glass Company of East Cambridge, founded the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company in 1825. Jarves chose to build a factory in Sandwich because the town had an abundance of timber to fuel the glass furnaces, had plenty of salt marsh grass to line boxes of glassware, and was close to a shipping harbor.
Boston & Sandwich Glass Company attracted talent to Sandwich from all over the world. When Jarves started the company, he brought glassblowers from the New England Glass Company with him to Sandwich. Soon after, he recruited other glassblowers from England and Ireland, the two countries with the most advanced pressed glass technology of the early nineteenth century.
The Boston & Sandwich Glass Company jump-started industrialization in the sleepy town of Sandwich. Over the next six decades, the company made significant improvements to the process of pressed glass production and exported its glassware worldwide. Today, the Sandwich Glass Museum displays more than 6,000 pieces of this acclaimed glassware.
In 1887, the glassblowers in Sandwich joined a strike organized by the national labor union. Boston & Sandwich Glass Company wasn’t able to meet the union’s demands and the company collapsed under pressure from its workers. Sandwich fell into an economic depression and, by the 1920s, there were no longer any glassblowers in the town.
Today, a plaque is all that remains of the glass factory in Sandwich. While it isn’t possible to see the factory anymore, visitors can learn about the accomplishments of the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company at the Sandwich Glass Museum. The museum contains thousands of examples of the company’s glassware, along with a working glass furnace where visitors can watch fascinating glassblowing demonstrations.