Glass - Whitall Tatum Company, Millville

In 1806, a man named James Lee opened a glassworks factory in Millville, New Jersey. This glassworks, located on Buck Street in the town of Millville, was later owned by the Whitall Tatum Company. Whitall Tatum would have fourteen owners over the first seventy-five years of its existence (Whitall, 2005).

Lee originally named the factory “Glasstown” (Industry, 2005). By 1827, the company had three owners: Dr. George Burgin, Richard L. Wood, and Joel Bodine. Bodine left in 1829 and the company name changed to Burgin & Wood. With the addition of a new partner in 1833, the company’s name changed once again to Burgin, Wood & Pearsall. At this time, the factory produced glass bottles using molds made out of clay (Whitall, 2005).

Glasstown was purchased in 1836 by another company that changed the name to Scattergood, Booth, and Company. Following this transition of owners, Scattergood (one of the owners) married a woman named Sarah Whitall. Sarah was the sister of Captain John Whitall, a major investor in the Glasstown factory. When Captain Whitall moved to Philadelphia with his new wife, Mary Tatum, he left the factory under his brother’s management. For the next three years, Captain Whitall’s brother, Israel Franklin Whitall, served as manager of the company (Whitall, 2005). By 1845 Scattergood no longer worked at Glasstown and the name was changed to Whitall, Brother, and Company (Industry, 2005).

Israel Whitall ceased to work for the company after 1857 and a man named Edward Tatum became one of the owners. At this time, the company became Whitall Tatum and Company. The success of the business took off and additional space was needed. An office was opened in New York and managed by C.A. Tatum. The Whitall Tatum Company became the most flourishing business in Millville (Industry, 2005).

Whitall Tatum was one of the first glass factories to establish a laboratory. Here they tested different procedures and combinations of materials used in glass production (Industry, 2005). By 1899, business was booming and the Whitall Tatum Company had over four hundred employees at their Glasstown factory and over one thousand at their lower works division. As a result of their success, Millville, New Jersey became famous for glass working (Industry, 2005).

(Jennifer Anderson)

Yellow Rose Paperweight

Yellow rose paperweight, c.1900. Collections of the New Jersey Historical Society. Gift of Mrs. Robert M. Crater (Agnes V. Hobart) in memory of her husband Robert M. Crater (1947.8).
Ship Paperweight by Michael Kane

Ship paperweight by Michael Kane, c. 1900. Collection of Wheaton Village, Millville (used with permission).

Insulator, mortar, and pestles. From the collections of Greenwich Library (Cumberland Co.).

Paperweights became popular in the United States in the mid-1850s. The prestige of the art form was enhanced considerably after they were featured in the Austrian Industrial Fair of 1845. Glass companies in New England began to produce these ornamental items, mimicking the styles produced in Europe.

The men who were employed by the Whitall Tatum factory began to make ornamental items including paperweights during their spare time (Industry, 2005). The man acknowledged as creator of the Millville Rose was Ralph Barber (Paperweights, 1973). This type of paperweight was unusual and involved a technique that was distinctively American. The Whitall Tatum Company became famous for their rose paperweights in the early 1900s (Kruger, 2002).

To produce the Millville Rose, Ralph Barber placed additional glass against the sides of the paperweight. Then he put glass in the interior of the sphere using a tool known as a “crimp.” The crimp had a wooden handle with metal rings that were used to create this effect. The sphere was then reformed into a circle, and leaves and stems were then added (Paperweights, 2005). Finally, colorless glass was added to cover the sphere again (Rose, 2004).

Other paperweights and forms of art glass were also produced in Millville, including lilies and tulips. Like the Millville Rose, these were produced by the glassworkers of the Whitall Tatum Company in their free time. After a period of public disinterest spanning two decades, paperweight production surged again in the 1950s (Paperweight, 2004).

(Jennifer Anderson)


Industry. (2005). In Historic themes and resources within the new jersey coastal heritage trail route (chapter 5). Retrieved from

Kruger, S. B. (2002). A brief history of paperweights. Retrieved December 4, 2005 from

Paperweight room. (2004). Retrieved December 4, 2005, from

Paperweights of the world. (2005). Retrieved December 4, 2005, from

Rose paperweights and crimps. (2004). Retrieved December 4, 2005 from

Rugoff, M. (1973). Glass. In The Britannica Encyclopedia of American Art (pp.232-238). Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Educational Corporation.

Rugoff, M. (1973). Paperweights. In The Britannica Encyclopedia of American Art (pp.408-409). Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Educational Corporation.

Whitall Tatum Co.: A South Jersey Glass House, part 1. (2005). Bottle muse, (July/August 1999). Retrieved December 4, 2005, from

Additional references:

Layton, Peter. (1996). Glass Art. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press.

Glossary of tools and equipment for glassblowing. (2005). Retrieved December 4, 2005, from

About the Authors | Essential Bibliography | NJ Museums & Collections | Acknowledgments