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Article Archive: What is the Libbey Edge?

12 Nov 2019 9:06 PM | Danny Bora (Administrator)

From the Spring 2013 Breweriana Collector - By James L.  Kaiser

The Libbey Edge, or “Safedge” as it was called by Libbey Glass when they introduced their patent in 1924, reduced the risk of rim chips and gave us “a line in the sand” between Pre- and Post-Prohibition glasses. A “Safedge” glass resulted from burning-off the moil or brunt edge of a blown glass via an automatic process that made a heat-strengthened rim guaranteed against chipping.

It is unclear, however, whether etched glasses were produced the “old fashioned way” after Prohibition. The fortunate timing of Libbey’s patent (dated 1924, smack in the middle of Prohibition) allows us to readily identify the glass shown with the “Safedge” in this article as post-Prohibition.

Figure 1Figure 2Now, let’s talk about these specific glasses. Christian Kern first operated a brewery in Port Huron Michigan in 1875 and the brewery continued under the C Kern Brewing Co. style until the Koerber Family moved in with Friar’s Ale in 1944.

The etched glass in Figure 1 has the smooth, sharp edge we usually identify with etched glasses from the Pre-Prohibition period (for detail, see Figure 2).

Figure 3Figure 4The etched glass in Figure 3 is in the same general style as the one shown in Figure 1, except the glass is from what is believed to be a branch in Detroit, MI. This glass also has the sharp rim edge generally identified with Pre-Pro etched glasses (in Figure 4, note the rim chip).

Figure 5The glass in Figure 5, however, while much the same as that in Figure 3, has a Libbey “Safedge” (Figure 6), indicating production after 1924. What’s more, the glass is painted, not etched. This article does not address the question whether this glass was distributed by the brewery—although it may have been, because the brewery was in business after Prohibition until 1944. It does, however, point out that there is an easily-identified difference between Pre-Pro etched glasses and post-Pro, Libbey “Safedge” glasses.

As an aside, note that the letter preceding Kern on each glass looks more like a capital E than a capital C. Is it a stylized C or is it an E, possibly for the brother, Ernst F. Kern who was the President of the brewery and founder of Kern’s Department Store in Downtown Detroit? Sorry, but that’s a discussion for another day.

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