The Glassmakers, Revisited: A History of Owens-Illinois, Inc

The Glassmakers, Revisited: A History of Owens-Illinois, Inc

 By Jack K. Paquette

May 17, 2010

272 pages

             I have always had a deep interest in glass, china and pottery. For many generations my family worked in all those industries. I remember several relatives who had kilns at home and would make beautiful pieces, things that would be considered folk art. They did not see it that way; they merely saw it as a hobby.

            So when I found this book a few weeks ago while searching for ‘The Man Behind the Bottle’ I ordered it. I enjoy reading the history of companies; it usually gives you insights into the industry as well as useful information and facts.

Jack Paquette had a 33 year career with the Owens Illinois Glass Company and retired as a vice president. At some point during his career he became the Company Historian and wrote the history of the company. ‘The Glassmakers Revisited’ is an updated revision of the 1984 and 1994 editions. The book covers the history from 1818 to 2009.

     Owens Illinois Glass Company is one of America’s oldest businesses and was one of the industry leaders for many years, especially after Michael Owens invented the automatic bottle machine in 1903.

With the Owens Bottle Machine the industry saw many changes. The Owens machine could produce 10 bottles per minute and up to 14,000 in 24 hours and ran with a two man crew. The way bottles had been made before consisted of seven skilled workers plus several children (Child labor was huge in the glass industry) and could produce 3,600 bottles per day by hand.  The Owens machine could make uniform bottles (unlike the hand made versions) which allowed the U.S. Government to establish the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. The machine also revolutionized the bottle industry and did more to reduce child labor than any legislation had been able to do.

The book also covers the background of the Illinois Glass Company and how these two companies were able to form the Owens Illinois Glass Company, a leading glass manufacturer for many years. The book covers a lot of years on few pages, I would liked to have seen more in depth information, but it is still a good read for bottle collectors. It mentions many advances through the years and when these advances happened which allows the reader to understand bottle production and helps you determine how they were made, which can tell you ages of bottles.

An interesting read with some photos too.

 You can find the book here:

For more information on Michael Owens:


7 Responses to “The Glassmakers, Revisited: A History of Owens-Illinois, Inc”

  1. Jack K. Paquette Says:

    Wow! What a great (and unexpected) review of my new book, The Glassmakers, Revisited! You must have been one of the earliest purchaser of the book! Thank you so much for your generous comments about it.

    The folks who follow your web site might also be interested in my book, Blowpipes, which is a detailed history of the more than 70 glass companies that opened in northwest Ohio during the natural gas boom there in the 1880s. I spent more than eight years researching and writing the book after talks about my earlier versions of the O-I history sparked members of various audiences in the area to ask me to undertake the project.

    I am told that a number of bottle collectors in the U.S. and Canada now refer to the book as “a bible for bottle collectors”, because, in addition to information about a number of long-forgotten glasshouses it provides sources for virtually every fact between its covers.

    The book is available in hard cover and paper back formats from

  2. cocacolabottleman Says:

    Mr. Paquette,
    I have enjoyed reading The Glassmakers very much. I also had already ordered your other book, Blowpipes and look forward to reading it! I will also be doing a review on that book. I try to let bottle collectors know that books are out there like yours.
    Thank you,

  3. Jack K. Paquette Says:


    I look forward to reading your thoughts about Blowpipes: It was a real labor of love for me and for the 90-year-old artist who illustrated it.

    Thanks! Jack

  4. Todd Holmes Says:

    Seen The Glassmakers, Revisited on someones desk here on O-I Campus. Being one of the new historians for O-I it will be interesting reading.

    • cocacolabottleman Says:

      Congratulations on becoming a historian with O-I. I would LOVE a job like that! It sounds like a very interesting job.

  5. Todd Holmes Says:

    Not a job, just a hobby of capturing historical stuff and putting it on the intranet for fellow O-I Employees during lunch time.

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