Skip to main content

Frederick Carder Papers

Identifier: MS-0017

Scope and Contents

The Frederick Carder Papers include both personal and professional materials from the glassmaker's century-long life. The bulk of the collection is composed of sketches and design drawings. It also includes glass recipes, travel diaries, correspondence, awards, business and professional records, photographs, and design inspiration. The collection is arranged in 11 series:

Series 1: Biographical Information, Circa 1866-1963

Series 2: Wordsley School, Circa 1880-1903

Series 3: Correspondence, Circa 1900-1963

Series 4: Glass Recipes, Circa 1890-1950

Series 5: Design Drawings, Sketches, and Sketchbooks, Circa 1880-1950

Series 6: Steuben Glass Business Records, Circa 1903-1942

Series 7: Other Professional Records, Circa 1890-1950

Series 8: Civic and Social Engagement in Corning, New York, Circa 1903-1963

Series 9: Design Inspiration, Circa 1880-1960

Series 10: Glass Plate Negatives and Lantern Slides, Circa 1880-1930

Series 11: Miscellaneous, Circa 1880-1966


  • Creation: Circa 1862-1966
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1880-1942


Language of Materials

The majority of materials are in English. A limited number of materials are in German and French.

Conditions Governing Access

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

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. His father and paternal grandfather owned Leys Pottery, which produced salt-glazed stoneware. When Carder turned 14, he quit school to work in the family business. Eventually, however, he enrolled in night classes at the Stourbridge School, where he studied art, design, chemistry, and other subjects.

In the late 1870s, Carder discovered that one of his classmates was the son of the renowned artist and sculptor John Northwood. Shortly after Carder introduced himself, Northwood became his mentor. In 1880, Northwood recommended Carder to the Brierley Hill firm of Stevens & Williams for the position of glass designer. Over the next two decades, Carder designed original glass forms and cut decorations, and eventually persuaded his employer to revive colored glass. Carder remained at Stevens & Williams until 1903, when he immigrated to the United States to start Steuben Glass Works.

Frederick Carder married Annie Walker in 1887. They had three children: Gladys, Stanley, and Cyril. Stanley died from a childhood illness in 1899, and Cyril died in France in 1918 while serving in the U. S. Army during World War I. Annie Carder died in 1943.

Between 1888-1891, Carder won a silver medal and two gold medals in national competitions for his artwork. Two were for glass vases in white wax relief and the other was for a thirty-inch copy of a famous bronze sculpture. The 1891 sculpture helped Carder earn his Art Master’s Certificate as well as the opportunity to study for three years in Paris, Rome, or London. However, Stevens & Williams refused to release Carder from his contract, so he was unable to take advantage of it. Carder was able to use some of the funds to travel to various museums during his annual vacations. Over several years, Carder studied and sketched glass collections at prestigious institutions such as The British Museum in London, The Louvre in Paris, and the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England.

Throughout the 1890s, Carder helped establish the Wordsley School in England, which acted as both an art academy and a vocational school that offered glassworkers an opportunity to learn the basics of drawing and advanced glass production techniques. Classes began in 1891, although a structure to house the new school wasn’t built until 1899. The school was successful in increasing the number of skilled glassworkers in the Stourbridge area. To show its appreciation, the Staffordshire County Council sent Carder on a tour of the glassmaking centers of Germany and Austria in 1902 and, in 1903, to the United States.

On his trip to the U. S., Carder visited glasshouses in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Washington, DC, and Corning, New York. While in Corning, he met with Corning Glass Works officials and received a tour of the plant. He also met with Thomas G. Hawkes, who was the president of T.G. Hawkes & Company—a glass-cutting firm established in Corning in 1880. T.G. Hawkes had been buying glass blanks from Stevens & Williams for many years. Carder and Hawkes decided to go into business together, establishing Steuben Glass Works in 1903. The motivation for Carder to pick up and leave England is most likely due to his being passed over for promotion to artistic director at Stevens & Williams when John Northwood died. Steuben Glass Works focused on producing blanks for T.G. Hawkes initially, which had previously relied on a variety of sources for this crucial component. But the creation of Steuben also allowed Carder to explore his artistic creativity with glass. Ultimately, Hawkes provided the financial backing for the new company while Carder became the administrator, production manager and artistic director.

Carder enjoyed great success at Steuben Glass Works between 1903-1918. One of his most notable accomplishments was developing an iridescent colored glass called Aurene in 1904, which was produced in gold, red, and blue varieties. It was so successful that it brought a lawsuit from Louis Comfort Tiffany because it competed with Tiffany’s prestigious Favrile glass. Steuben won the case and continued to produce Aurene glass until 1933. Carder also developed Calcite glass in this period. Calcite glass was used extensively for bowl-shaped ceiling fixtures and grew increasingly popular as electric lighting became more common in the 1910s and 1920s. Other technical innovations included the Verre de Soie (V.D.S.) method, which had a rainbow-colored, satin finish, and was frequently used for cologne bottles.

Material shortages caused by World War I placed Steuben Glass Works in a difficult situation. Since the glass industry was not considered a wartime priority, the company was unable to get the raw materials it needed to make glass. Unfortunately, that meant Carder had to either shut down Steuben or sell it to Corning Glass Works. Carder chose to sell, and in 1918 the Steuben Division of Corning Glass Works (CGW) was created. Another major change to the company occurred in 1932 when Carder was relieved of his duties as manager of the Steuben Division and assigned the title of Art Director of CGW. Carder remained with the company until his official retirement in 1959.

Carder continued to develop various forms of artistic glass after CGW purchased Steuben, including Intarsia, which he felt was one of his greatest achievements. But Carder continued experimenting with other types of glass as well, particularly in the expanding field of architectural glass. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Carder helped CGW become a leader in architectural glass. Working with architects and sculptors, Carder provided the glass expertise that made it possible to install [large-scale glass features] in high-profile structures such as the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center (RCA Building).

Outside of the glassmaking world, Carder contributed a considerable amount of time and energy to the Corning community. He spent many years on the school board of Corning City Schools, including several as president. Additionally, Carder was frequently asked to speak at various events held by local clubs, churches, and social organizations.

Frederick Carder died 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.


106.0 Linear Feet (22 Hollinger boxes, 6 half Hollinger boxes, 46 flat boxes, 8 glass plate negative boxes, 1 card file box, and 7 oversize folders)

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Materials in Box 74, Folders 1-3, and Oversize Folders 83-89, located in Flat File Unit 38, Drawer 4, suffered flood damage in 1972. Researchers should wear nitrile gloves and apron when using material with obvious water damage, flood mud residue, or suspected mold. Researchers should also limit access to flood damaged materials to two hours per day.

Series 10: Glass Plate Negatives and Lantern Slides (Boxes 76-82) received minimal processing. Many items are in poor condition and/or are unlabeled. However, most images are available in print format elsewhere.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired over the years of 1959-1980.

Related Materials

Researchers should be aware that the Rakow Research Library has a number of audio recordings of interviews and recollections of Frederick Carder. They are described in the library catalog.

Artistic Japan, published in 1888, was awarded to Frederick Carder in 1890 for work he did as a student. It contains a plate inside the front cover with his name and other details. Call Number: PER N7350. A79*

Separated Materials

Nearly all of the books acquired with this collection have been incorporated into the Rakow Research Library's book collections. Textbooks and books unrelated to glass or design were discarded. A bibliography of the discarded titles is available upon request.


At one time, a separate collection of Frederick Carder Notebooks was maintained (MS 0018). That material was incorporated into this collection in 2021.

Processing Information

Processed by Joe Schill in 2021.

Frederick Carder Papers, 1862-1966
A Guide to the Collection
Joe Schill
August 2021
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