WHEELING, W.Va. — After more than 100 years, a West Virginia-based glassware manufacturer is carrying on the legacy inherent in a more-than-century-old pattern—the Moon & Star.
Produced since the 1880s by several glassmakers (the L.E. Smith Glass Company, L.G. Wright Glass Company, the Adams Glass Company, and Fenton Art Glass Company), Weishar Enterprises began reproducing the Moon & Star pattern after decades of providing the moulds for previous manufacturers.
According to President John Weishar, the company also began creating its own specialty pieces in new colors and styles in the 1990s, and his company is now the sole producer of the pattern.
During a glass show and sale in Wheeling presented by the Society of Moon & Star Pattern Glass, Weishar reflected on the history and future of Moon & Star glass, which is attracting larger audiences.
When Weishar began producing its own Moon & Star pieces, John Weishar’s father, Joseph, began inserting a maker’s mark on his pieces—such as his signature or the outline of West Virginia—as previous companies typically did not mark their pieces in any way.
As these pieces are easier to identify among collectors, they are often more highly sought after, especially because many are made in smaller quantities.
“Our family has been in it for 80 years, and our dad liked it because it was something he could design,” says Weishar.
Weishar's parent company, the Island Mould Company, has also made moulds over the years for West Virginia glass manufacturers such as Viking, Blenko, Pilgrim, Fenton, Kanawha, L.G. Wright, Rainbow Glass, Appalachian, Paden City Glass, as well as manufacturers outside the state such as Steuben Glass and Corning Inc.
“At one time, we had over 100 customers (in the state)," Weishar says, and the company is still producing moulds for businesses across the country.
Glassmaking continues to be a Weishar family tradition, dating back to Weishar’s great-grandfather, who worked at Central Glass in Wheeling. The family started the Island Mould Company, based initially on Wheeling Island, before moving to its current location in Wheeling, with more than 13,000 square feet of mould shop and warehouse.
“Someone once asked me, ‘Why do you do this?’ Weishar says. "I’m not going to get rich, that’s for sure, but the people are great.
"There are a lot of people on Facebook and social media, but the people in the society are very knowledgeable. They research, and they know, and I’m trying to teach my daughter how to know.”
Each year for the Society of Moon & Star conventions, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2023, Weishar produces specialty pieces in new colors, some exclusively for members and others for sale in limited quantities to the general public.
“It’s fun!” Weishar says. “I like to give people a challenge. I like to think outside the box.”
Weishar produced a unique gray color to mark the club's 25th anniversary. “It was as close as we could get to silver,” he joked.
During the 20th century, West Virginia was home to hundreds of glass factories. Sand, coal, and natural gas, which are crucial for glass production, were available, and thanks to the Ohio River and railroads, glass exporting was possible.
Since most factories have closed, collectors from across the country seek out the glass they produced, while others are attracted to West Virginia for new Weishar pieces. Conventions often bring them together in the Mountain State.
In the past few years, the society has had glass shows in Wheeling in connection with Weishar Enterprises, bringing together glass collectors from across the country. “It’s a family thing,” Weishar says. “It’s a fun thing, and I really like the people.”
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