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Frederick Carder Notebooks

Identifier: MS-0018

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of 38 personal notebooks that belonged to Frederick Carder. These notebooks document Carder’s recipes for making different types of glass, his general observations on glassmaking during his travels, his training in art and science, and his ideas for glass designs, techniques and equipment. Loose materials were inserted in the front of some of the notebooks. There is also one notebook that belonged to Frederick Carder’s son, Cyril. The notebooks are described, but not arranged, in chronological order.

Also included in the collection are four letters to Carder and a handbook for making art models.


  • 1867-1948
  • Majority of material found within 1881-1948


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for public research. Researchers must make an appointment to view this collection.

Due to the fragility of the originals, patrons are asked to use the digital and/or microform copies of the notebooks.

Conditions Governing Use

The Copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. The user agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rakow Research Library against all claims, demands, costs and expenses incurred by copyright infringement or any other legal or regulatory cause of action arising from the use of Library materials.

Biographical / Historical

Frederick Carder was born in Staffordshire, England on September 18, 1863 to Annie and Caleb Carder. He was the second son in a family of five boys and one girl. His father and paternal grandfather owned Leys Pottery, which produced salt-glazed stoneware articles. By the time he was fourteen, Carder was top of his class but he eventually quit school to work in the family business. However, he enrolled in night classes at the School of Art in Stourbridge and he also took evening classes at the Dudley Mechanics Institute in chemistry, electricity and metallurgy.

When Carder learned that the renowned artist and sculptor, John Northwood, was the father of a fellow student he decided to visit the artist’s studio. Northwood was so impressed by a small marble head that Carder had just finished carving that the artist invited Carder to spend Saturday afternoons at his studio learning the art of cameo glassmaking. Carder showed such promise that Northwood recommended him to the Brierly Hill firm of Stevens & Williams for the position of glass designer. Stevens & Williams hired Carder in 1880 and he quickly began designing original glass forms and cut decorations. Carder also wanted to revive colored glass and eventually, the principal of the factory consented to have some colored glass designs produced on a trial basis. These designs proved to be very popular and sold quickly. Carder remained at Stevens & Williams for the next two decades.

In 1887, Frederick Carder married Annie Walker at the Parish Church of St. James, Dudley, Worcestershire. They had a daughter and two sons: Gladys, Stanley, and Cyril.

Carder qualified as an entrant in the national art competitions in London in 1891 and won an Art Master’s Certificate and the Gold Medal of the Year for his thirty-inch copy of the heroic bronze, “The Archer,” by Hamo Thornycroft. This achievement also entitled him to a national scholarship, which would have enabled him to study for three years in Paris, Rome, or London. However, Stevens & Williams refused to release him from his contract, and he missed this opportunity. Nevertheless, the scholastic committee arranged for Carder to use some of the funds to travel during his annual vacations. On these trips, Carder was able to study glass collections in museums in England and other parts of Europe.

Also in 1891, Carder established the Wordsley School of Art in order to train glassworkers in the basics of drawings and in advanced glass production techniques. As a result of this institution, the numbers and skills of glassworkers available in the Stourbridge area increased. Therefore, to show its appreciation, the local Stourbridge government sent Carder on a tour of the glassmaking centers of Germany, Austria and the United States.

In 1903, Carder visited glasshouses in Pittsburgh, Washington D. C., and Corning, New York. While in Corning, he met with Corning Glass Works officials and was taken on a tour of the plant. He also met with Thomas G. Hawkes, who was the president of T.G. Hawkes & Company—a glass decorating firm established in Corning in 1880—and who had been buying glass blanks from Stevens & Williams for many years. It has been generally assumed by scholars that the two men were previously acquainted and “that prior to Carder’s arrival in Corning, they had already laid out the basic terms of agreement to start a new company in Corning—the Steuben Glass Works, named for Steuben County in which the town was located” (Madigan, 2003, p. 49).

While Hawkes provided the financial backing for the new company, Carder emerged as the administrator, production manager and artistic head of the Steuben Glass Works. He also developed the various innovative glass formulas used at Steuben. Carder remained at this company until his official retirement in 1959.

Frederick Carder died in his sleep on December 10, 1963.


Gardner, P. V. (1985). "Frederick Carder: Portrait of a glassmaker." New York: The Corning Museum of Glass.

Gardner, P. V. (1971). "The glass of Frederick Carder." New York: The Corning Museum of Glass.

Hotchkiss, J. F. (1972). "Carder’s Steuben Glass handbook & price guide." New York: Hotchkiss House Inc.

Madigan, M. J. (2003). "Steuben Glass: An American tradition in crystal." New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.


2.5 Linear Feet (5 Hollinger boxes)

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Due to the fragility of the originals, patrons are asked to use the microfilm and/or digital copies of the notebooks.

Notebooks requiring conservation of bindings:

Box 1: Folders 2,3,4,5,7 Box 2: Folders 1,2,3,5,7 Box 3: Folders 2,4 Box 4: Folders 4,5,6,10,11

Custodial History

Gift of Tim and Paddy Welles, 2005.
Frederick Carder Notebooks, 1867-1948
A Guide to the Collection
Nivedita Chatterjee
August 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Rakow Research Library Manuscript Collection Repository

The Rakow Research Library
The Corning Museum of Glass
Five Museum Way
Corning NY 14830 USA