The history of Hawkes Crystal began when Thomas Gibson Hawkes established the company in Corning, New York in 1880. Hawkes Crystal concentrated on imprinting deeply etched and intricately detailed designs into glass blanks. These blanks were purchased from other glass companies, most notably the Corning Glass Company. For more than 80 years, Hawkes Crystal was synonymous with brilliant American cut glass. This impeccable workmanship of Hawkes Crystal was evident through the more than 300 patterns that were introduced by the company over the years.
Thomas Gibson Hawkes was born in Ireland and immigrated to America when he was 17 years old. Within Thomas Hawkes’ family were ties to the European glass making and glass decorating industries. The Penrose family, which is linked to the establishment of the famed Waterford Glass Company in Waterford, Ireland. was another family name of Thomas Hawkes’. In addition, a different Thomas Hawkes, that of the Dudley, England based Hawkes family, is credited with being the first person in Englad to cut glass deeply when working with it.
Thomas Gibson Hawkes was formally schooled in civil engineering. Instead of pursuing a career in engineering, however, he started the Hawkes Crystal company after immigrating to the United States. Hawkes Crystal became an incorporated company in 1890. Hawkes Crystal cut intricate designs into blocks of glass manufactured by other glass companies. Unfortunately, because Hawkes Crystal did not manufacture the glass blanks, they could not control the quality of the glass blanks they received.
In 1903, Thomas Hawkes persuaded Fredrick Carder to partner with him to establish Steuben Glass Works to manufacture glass blanks. Fredrick Carder was an English born glassmaker and artist who started his career in glassmaking with the English company of Stevens & Williams. By the establishment of this glass manufacturing factory, Hawkes Crystal no longer needed to purchase glass blanks from other sources. In this way, Hawkes Crystal could now control the quality of the glass with which it worked.
In 1913, Thomas Hawkes died. His son, Samuel, already established in the Hawkes Crystal family business as a business man, took over the helm of the prestigious company. Samuel Hawkes introduced a number of well received patterns. These included two patterns for which he received patents. He favored decorating glass with winding flowers and leaves rather than simply concentrating on the geometric shapes from the previous era. Samuel Hawkes successfully led Hawkes Crystal for more than 30 years
Hawkes Crystal produced patterns of cut glass for two presidents. In addition, two of Hawkes Crystal’s patterns were awarded a grand prize in the Paris Exposition. Hawkes Crystal produced monogrammed patterns as well as patterns of crests for their varied clients through the years.
Many of the original Hawkes Crystal pieces do not bear marks, although some do so on the foot of the piece. Even with those pieces that do bear marks,, they can be difficult to distinguish due to the intricacies of the glass. The original Hawkes Crystal ceased operations in 1960. In 1964, the Tiffin Art Glass Company assumed the assets of Hawkes Crystal. Today, Crystal Traditions continues to manufacture the Hawkes Crystal line under the Hawkes Crystal mark.