Last Updated: Oct 26, 2018 Views: 958
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"Glory Hole": A Definition
According to the Glass Dictionary available on The Corning Museum of Glass website, the definition of "glory hole" is
(1) A hole in the side of a glass furnace, used to reheat glass that is being fashioned or decorated;
(2) a separate appliance for reheating glass.
"Glory Hole": Usage
The term’s use is recorded in glassmaking texts by the mid-1800s. See, for instance,
- Apsley Pellatt, Curiosities of Glass Making: With Details of the Processes and Productions of Ancient and Modern Ornamental Glass Manufacture (London: David Bogue, 1849), p. 65.
The Oxford English Dictionary cites Pellatt's use of the term as well: "The large goods receive a final reheating at the mouth of a pot heated by beech-wood, and called the Glory Hole,"
We have been able to locate slightly earlier examples of the term's use in glassmaking. For instance, the New York Evening Post on October 22, 1835, advertised the sale of the New York Flint Glass Works, which included among other things, an "eight Pot Furnace, Glory Hole, Lear ... & c., all in excellent working order."
"Glory Hole": Origin Stor(ies)
The origin of the term in this context, however, remains unknown.
- Otto Hilbert, a Corning Glass Works historian, suggested that the term comes from the religious idea of “glory” – when you put glass into the glory hole you can imagine a halo effect.
- Our Hot Glass Demos FAQ on the subject provides a similar answer: "While there is no concrete answer, there are several plausible origins of this term. In an old factory, where smoke and dust were everywhere, a 2100° opening would have created an illusion not unlike that seen in paintings of saints and angels where 'The Glory' radiated from their heads. A break in the clouds where sunlight passes through is also called a glory hole."
- At the same time, definition 9.c. of "glory" (noun) in the Oxford English Dictionary is simply "Any circle or ring of light; a halo, corona," providing examples from 1693 to 1963 of uses of "glory" in this sense of the term. It is possible that "glory hole" derives from this more mundane definition.
Our staff will continue to look for the origins of this term and update you when we find anything new. We welcome comments that might point us toward a more precise answer!