The Story of Peterboro Glass
From 1810 to 1828, a glass factory operated in Peterboro, NY. It was owned first by Peter Smith, the town’s founder and namesake, and later, by his sons, Peter Skenandoah Smith and Gerrit Smith.
They made glass from the sands of Sylvan Beach, for
windows, whiskey bottles, jars, bowls, canes and demijohns (which are not a type of toilet, it turns out, but a very large bottle with a skinny neck.) Glass blowers came from as far away as Germany to apply their skills.
Peter Sken and Gerrit were abolitionists, involved in the underground railroad.They helped escaped slaves make their way to freedom.
Some of the houses in the town of Peterboro still have glass made in the glass factory today! Other than that, however, all that remains of the glass factory is its foundation, in the middle of a farm field. Every spring when the field is plowed, bits of glass made by the founders of the town two centuries ago make their way to the surface.
Artist and author Norman K. Dann gathers up the 200-year-old pieces, works his magic on them, and creates one-of-a-kind sterling silver and Peterboro Glass jewelry.
We met Norman at an idyllic smalltown 4th of July parade. There were vendors filling the park. Norm was one of them, and when I passed by his table, I did a double-take at the striking and unusual jewelry on display. I was planning my own shop by then, and I knew this jewlry was something I would be proud to carry, so I got his card.
And so here it is.
The glass, though cleaned and shaped and polished, has inclusions, and shows the wear and tear of 200 years underground. But it’s wearable history that starts conversations and has a story to tell. And I find that very cool.
Earring styles vary. I'll pick a pair for you at random.
Although, nothing's really random, is it?