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by Steve Sturtz August 16th, 2011



“Henry T. Hellmers’ Secret Batch Book of Glass Formulae” by J.W. Courter


“Henry T. Hellmers’ Secret Batch Book of Glass Formulae” has just been published by J.W. Courter through IGNEOUS GLASSWRKS, LLC of Sandy UT.

 J.W. (Bill) Courter has written much about Aladdin Lamps and Glass. His search led him to become friends with and a regular annual house guest of Henry Hellmers from 1972 until 1978. It appears that Hellmers enjoyed sharing his knowledge with Bill and talking about how he made glass.

 Hellmers’ wife gave his batch book to Courter after Hellmers died.

 Bill recognized the significance and importance of the batch book for the glass industry at large, as well as its significance to the glass and marble collecting communities. He published 25 copies of the batch book and either sold them or gave them to important glass libraries like Corning’s Rakow Research library.

 I have spoken with Bill a few times and his love of Aladdin, Hellmers, and glass glow through his words. Bill has learned more about Hellmers since his death and now, he wishes he had asked so many more questions. He did not, only because his knowledge had not matured yet. These regrets are only a big deal to him since many others who have done research would also love to go back and ask the questions that they did not know at the time when the opportunity presented itself. I say this as a compliment to Bill’s life long and continuing curiosity about glass, Hellmers and Aladdin.  Thank you!

 I, as a marble collector, am thrilled by Bill’s work. His publishing of Hellmers’ batch book has opened the door to new knowledge in terms of the glass formulas used in making marbles and in what the interrelationships might have been among some of the famous old marble makers of the early twentieth Century.

 I know nothing about chemistry and yet this book has taught me many things and led to  many more questions which I hope we will be able to answer in the future with help of Courter’s publishing of Hellmers’ work.

 As a non-scientist, the most striking thing for me is how similar the formulas for any particular color seem to be.

 I know certain things from reading this book. I want to know many more. This book has opened the door to knowledge for all who collect anything that is American glass from this period. I now have hundreds of new questions.

 Mechanically, the book is simple. It is a few great pages of information about Hellmers and his personal correspondence. It then shows us about 2,400 formulas that Hellmers used and/or collected. These formulas have dates from about 1915 into the late 1960s. They are both American and European. They are formulas for chimneys, lamps, reflectors, marbles, light bulbs and some other pleasant surprises for the reader.

 There are four or five formulas of Arnold Fiedler (Akro, Peltier, and Cambridge Glass among others) which disprove the myth the Fiedler took all of his formulas to the grave with him.

 I am left with the knowledge that Hellmers consulted with Lawrence E. Alley (Lawrence Glass, Alley Agate, Akro Agate, and Ravenswood) and that there are about 20 Lawrence Glass Company formulas in the book. Two or three are noted as being made by Hellmers. I wonder if the rest were those of Lawrence E. or were they also Hellmers’ work, but it is not noted.

 I checked with the owners of Lawrence E. Alley’s formula book and they said they will check to see how and which formulas match up.

 He recorded about 20 formulas from Horace Hill (MF Christensen, and Akro Agate) who was a bookkeeper for M.F. Christensen before starting Akro Agate. Hill was arrested, tried and convicted of stealing from Christensen. As a bookkeeper, it seems highly unlikely that Horace made any glass formulas. Yet here they are in Hellmers’ batch book. It seems to me that these are the formulas that M.F. bought from Leighton. Time will tell.

 There are about 180 Akro formulas. I sure would like to know if three or four of these are oxblood formulas. Many of these formulas were for children’s dish ware.

 Hellmers did two tours at Akro. He wrote ... “First I worked for Akro Agate Co. as factory superintendent in charge of glass production from 1922 to 1928 and again from 1932 till 1935.”

 There are about 140 Cambridge Glass formulas as well as another 50ish that are labeled Cambridge Ohio. Hopefully these formulas will eventually lead us to know whether Christensen Agate Company (CAC) used Cambridge Glass as its cullet and striping colors or whether CAC batched their own glass.

 The importance of the interrelationships of many early 20th Century glass makers is becoming clear. Kopps worked with Fiedler. Fiedler worked with Hellmers, Sellers Peltier, and Horace Hill. Hellmers worked with Lawrence E. Alley, Fred Early, and Fiedler.

 Since these men either worked with each other or one step (man) away from each other, it looks like there may be some validity when people observe the similarities in their colors.

 One regular notation in the batch book is the word “pot.” Research is showing that Hellmers used the term for his striking colors and the more critical glasses he made at Cambridge glass. I do not know yet whether or not he used this technique at other factories. Early research shows that he put separate clay pots inside the furnace to make these smaller batches of “pot” glass.  I hope to learn more about this.

 It is beginning to look as if Henry Hellmers switched jobs often because other companies wooed him and made him offers he “could not refuse”. Regardless, of what new information is found about Hellmers, he was a force to be reckoned with when it came to being prolific at the art of making colored glass for many different uses. His work was sought after then and still is.

 To understand Hellmers and the companies he worked for, “Henry T. Hellmers’ Secret Batch Book of Glass Formulae” by J.W. Courter, is a must read.

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