Hidden in Plain Sight:
The Material World of Early Springfield


Cut glass tumblers and wine glass

c. 1825-50
Recovered from Edwards Place privy
Collection of the Illinois State Museum

Glass became more readily available in America during the second quarter of the 19th century. Protective tariffs encouraged domestic industry, including glassmaking, while an influx of skilled immigrant laborers provided the manpower to run large glasshouses. This glassware is typical of the refined tableware being produced in Pittsburgh and exported through the Ohio River Valley. It was readily available and reasonably affordable.
Tumblers were by far the most common drinking glasses, used to serve beer, ale, and occasionally wine or whisky. Fragments of more than a dozen tumblers were recovered from the Edwards Place privy, suggesting its occupants did a lot of entertaining.