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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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Peter Glass

This bio was contributed by Pat Phillips

Legacies: Collecting American's History At The Smithsonian by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick (Washington : Smithsonian Institution Press in association with the National Museum of American History, Behring Center, c2001) "Peter Glass, a maker of American marquetry" The Magazine Antiques {v-104, Dec 1973, p.1096-1100}

Peter Glass (1824-1901) immigrated to the United States in 1844. He was trained as a marquetry maker in his hometown in Germany, Glass continued to make furniture after he became a farmer in Sheboygan County, WI. He won numerous awards for his exquisite craftsmanship. He was one of the foremost wood inlay artisans of his time.
He has a number of woodworking pieces in the Smithsonian Institute in the Lincoln room. A sewing set done for Mary Todd Lincoln, several inlaid sewing boxes, a folding table with the portraits of American generals & one of Washington in the center. He was written up in the "Magazine Antiques" in 1971. The sewing set for the Lincolns was on display at the World's Fair when Lincoln was shot. Some pieces are in the Lincoln museum. Another table resides in the governor's mansion in Illinois. See picture

Source: Several pieces of his craftsmanship were part of a display: "Skin Deep: Three Masters of American Inlaid Furniture" Milwaukee Art Museum, November 22, 2003 – March 2, 2003. They could be viewed on the internet as part of the Chipstone Collection at: {It also included the biography below and a photograph of him.}

Peter Glass (1824-1901)

Twenty-year-old Peter Glass emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1844, having already served an apprenticeship in cabinetmaking. While working in a piano factory in Massachusetts applying veneer to the tops of piano keys, Glass devoted his spare time and creativity to making elaborate marquetry furniture. His work won prizes in competitions, including the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association exhibition and the 28th annual fair of the American Institute of New York. In 1857 Glass moved his family to a farm near the town of Scott in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. He applied himself to tending his land on the western frontier, but continued to develop his skill in marquetry.

Ambition led the Wisconsin craftsman to tackle monumental projects and venture into self-promotional marketing. In 1864, Glass spent six months designing and creating a large, tilt-top center table with over 20,000 pieces of wood composing marquetry portraits of political and military heroes and intricate floral and geometric displays. This table is now owned by the Governor’s Mansion of Illinois and seen in this exhibition. Glass displayed this piece and its companion worktable in Milwaukee and Chicago for 25 cents admission before sending the works to their intended recipients, President and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln {unfortunately Lincoln was assassinated before the pieces arrived}. Though described in The Chicago Tribune as "a Wisconsin backwoods man," Glass was both a sophisticated and prolific furniture maker. Three other heavily ornamented center tables survive, including one that is currently on view at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Late in his life, Glass made several gifts for family members, including numerous small boxes and eight worktables {three of which are seen in this gallery}.


German born Peter Glass {1824-1901} moved his family west from Massachusetts to an eighty acre farm near Scott, Wisconsin in Sheboygan County. In 1865, he made a center table and a workstand for President Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, which featured marquetry portraits of the President. Unfortunately, Lincoln was assassinated before the tables reached Washington. The center table survives at the Illinois Governor's Mansion and will be featured in this exhibit. Skin Deep will feature other elaborately decorated examples of Glass's marquetry alongside material from his workshop such as tools, unfinished pieces of marquetry, and medallions awarded in honor of Glass's furniture. {The Furniture Society}

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