WILLIAMSTOWN - A number of people came to Fenton Art Glass in Williamstown over the Labor Day weekend to see if they have a rare and unique piece of Fenton glass.
They came to see if they had a piece of glass made by the company, over the course of its history, which could win the Fenton Art Glass Treasure Hunt Contest.
The company holds a number of identification events throughout the year, said Randy Fenton, president and treasurer of the company's gift shop.
Jim Measell, historian for Fenton Art Glass, looks over a piece brought in during an identification event at the Fenton Gift Shop over the Labor Day weekend. Fenton officials are trying to find the oldest, rarest and most unique piece of glass manufactured by the Williamstown plant for a contest they are conducting.
"The event is part of a national effort where members of the Fenton family are signing pieces of glasswork all over the country at various dealers," he said. "We are looking for the oldest, the rarest and the most unique piece of Fenton glass. It is a contest."
During these signing events, they have someone evaluating Fenton pieces people have, trying to find the oldest, the rarest and the most unique.
"We are trying to spur interest in Fenton and get people to bring in their pieces," Fenton said.
Fenton historian Jim Measell has been at the gift shop since Friday evaluating pieces people have brought in. He is scheduled to be at the gift shop today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"What Jim is doing is he is identifying for four days during our signing event here," Fenton said. "He is keeping a list of everything he is checking.
"He will then choose the winner. That winner will get a $25 gift certificate and it will be put in with all the national winners from all over the country to be one of two grand prize winners who will both receive a $500 gift certificate to buy Fenton Glass."
Some of the pieces brought in date back to the early 1900s.
"We're having more fun than people should be allowed to have," Measell said. "I have seen some very rare and interesting things.
"It is going to be very difficult to come up with a winner. We have seen some pieces that were old, some pieces that are rare and seen some pieces that were very interesting."
The turnout has been good throughout the long weekend, Fenton said.
"Jim has had around five people waiting in line at any given time," he said. "Jim is such an expert at knowing the different pieces. He can look at a piece and know around when it was made. He has a wealth of knowledge about Fenton."
Pattie Alden of Marietta wanted to see if any of the pieces she has might qualify for the contest.
"We wanted to see if we had anything of value and maybe get entered into the contest," she said. "I was happy with what he told me. I can now go online and look and see what I can find online."
Dana and Glenna Hoisington of Baltimore, Ohio, are regular visitors to the Williamstown plant.
"We are down here for the family signings, to buy more Fenton and have a couple of pieces identified," Dana Hoisington said.
He believes they have over 100 pieces of Fenton glass in their personal collection with shelves full of pieces all over their home.
Glenna Hoisington is always happy to make the trip to the Fenton plant.
"I am in heaven when I am near Fenton glass, all the different colors and shapes," she said. "We have been through the factory tour time after time."
Dana Hoisington said the work that goes into each piece makes it special.
"It is something that is made by hand," he said. "Every piece is individual. It is something that is made here in the United States.
"It is not jobs that are outsourced to anywhere else. It is American craftsmanship. That is what we enjoy about it. It is something we collect that has helped to keep someone employed in the United States."
People have come in during the weekend from all over the country, including Georgia, Michigan, all over Ohio and elsewhere, plant officials said.
Measell said he has seen so many interesting items, he has suggested they come up with a different criteria for winners and be able to give something to the people who have brought in really unique pieces.
"Someone brought in a small vase that was given to a woman's mother by the Fenton family when she took care of Tom Fenton when he was an infant in 1942," he said. "That certainly qualifies as interesting.
"On Saturday, I saw a very rare turtle from 1929 that was unique. (Sunday) I saw some pieces from 1908-1909 that qualify as old."
Measell will help people identify whatever piece of glass they have, whether Fenton-made it or not. He also offers suggestions where people can find out more about their particular piece.