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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Horse bookends...more complicated than I knew

A reader suggested that the horse bookends in a previous post might have been manufactured by A. H. Heisy & Company, rather than L. E. Smith Glass Company. The possibility intrigued me, so I started to look for information. I located an attribution to Heisy in a Live Auctioneers listing, but most of the information I found centered around three almost identical designs by L. E. Smith, Fostoria and New Martinsville. Heisy wasn't mentioned in those discussions.

The abbreviated version of what I read is that the main differences are in the mane and the base, as detailed here:

L. E. Smith horses are easily identified by a knotted mane and a much thicker base than the other two. Also, the neck is thinner and not as arched. The glass quality is somewhat inferior to that of Fostoria or New Martinsville, and they are slightly less valuable.
Fostoria horses have a cropped mane which appears very slightly beaded, a Roman nose and a 1/2" wide ledge around the base. Also, the right ear is smaller than the left ear.
New Martinsville horses have a cropped mane which appears straight/squared off, a Roman nose and a 1" wide ledge around the base.

L. E. Smith 

Forum - 

New Martinsville
Forum - 

After looking at a number of sites and reading several discussions about how to tell the three apart, I was confident my bookends were produced by Smith, but to be absolutely sure, I sent a photo to the company, which is still in business, and received a confirmation from L. E. Smith employee Patti Bryner that mine were indeed made by their factory. I readily admit, however, that my identification was pure luck. Although I'm sure I've seen photographs of all three types, I had never noticed the differences and had no idea the Fostoria or New Martinsville bookends even existed. I've been calling them all L. E. Smith for years.

I also sent an email to the curator of the Heisy Glass Museum to find out if that company produced similar rearing horse bookends, but I have not received a response yet. If I find out that they did, I will update again.

Thanks to reader Mitzy for her comment, which resulted in my finding out more than I ever thought possible about these bookends that my parents received as a gift when they were a young married couple (including the fact that they are less valuable than the others, which is too bad for me). I hope what I gleaned from my research provides some helpful information to you vintage glass shoppers/sellers.

Update 8/2/2011: I just received another email from L. E. Smith employee Patti Bryner with more information about the bookends. She said:

You are correct about the base. I don't know if Heisy made them or not. They were produced  [by L. E. Smith] from May of 1945 until the early part of 2000. This book end has been attributed to the American Glass Company in the past; however, the drawing in Plate 841 [of LE Smith: The First One Hundred Years] is from an application submitted by LE Smith for wage arbitration by the National Association of Manufacturers of Pressed and Blown Glassware...Hope this helps you out. If you can, buy the book LE Smith: The First One Hundred Years. It has a lot of information about our products.


  1. Well, there ya go! Learn something new everyday. My mom had a pair of similar ones, and I could have sworn they were Heisy (mom was an antique dealer and she knew her stuff) but looking at your pictures, I think hers might have been Fostoria. She had tons of Fostoria. I will have to check next time I see my sister. I think she has them now.

  2. @Mitzy: I still haven't heard from the Heisy Museum. It will be interesting to find out if they made an almost identical set too. Isn't it crazy that there are so many of these floating around out there by so many different makers? They must have been really popular if everyone was trying to get in on the act! I can't wait to hear what you find out from your sister. Like I said, my calling mine Smith was pure dumb luck, because I didn't even know about the others. :)

  3. I recently bought 2 blue ones from ebay that were marketed as LE Smith. When I got them I realized that there were little differences not consistent with either Fostoria or New martinsville. They have the 1" base, and beaded manes. But the tails do not have the amount of detail, they are not rearing as high and there is more glass in the rearing stance. Any ideas what I have? Thanks.