During the 1920s and 1930s, automation changed glass production in the United States. Many tableware companies completely automated their operations to increase efficiency and cut costs. But at least fifty factories resisted installing the machines and continued to produce glass by hand. The majority of these hand plants operated in the Midwest in the glassmaking regions of Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Companies such as the Cambridge Glass Company, Imperial Glass Company, Fostoria Glass Company, Fenton Art Glass and Decorating Company, Morgantown Glass Company, H.C. Fry Glass Company, A.H. Heisey Company, McKee Glass Company, and many more thrived during this period, making vibrant colorful blown and pressed wares. Examples of these pieces are exhibited in this section.
After World War II, the number of hand plants decreased due to changing tastes, foreign competition and the overwhelming efficiency of the other automated factories. By the 1960s and 1970s, most of the few persisting factories were recycling many of their old products instead of introducing new designs. The firms that did not change with the new trends and tastes closed their doors in the 1980s. Today, only a handful of these small glass factories survive.