FAIRPORT, N.Y. (AP) – Only 7,000 champagne glasses etched with an official, 22-carat-gold seal were ordered for President Bush’s inauguration, far fewer than the 60,000 commemorative flutes raised in salute in 2001.

With the gloom of war hanging over today’s festivities, a tiny ceramics-and-glassware screen-printing company was happy to get any order from Bush’s inaugural committee because it usually has to lay off a batch of its 42 employees during the winter lull.

“We were told two, three weeks ago, it wasn’t going to happen,” Art McLeod, president and “chief bottle washer” at Mastercraft Decorators Inc. in suburban Rochester, said Wednesday.

Bush “didn’t even want to do it at first,” he said. “Obviously somebody in the committee decided, “Well, we’re going to do it.’ I understood the president’s feelings immensely. It’s very hard to toast a glass when you know our boys are over there fighting” in Iraq.

Just as in 2001, after weeks of postelection wrangling delayed the presidential outcome, McLeod got his second inauguration order at the last moment – this time with just a week to spare. The glasses will be handed out at official inaugural parties in Washington, D.C.

Circled around the presidential inaugural seal, which depicts the Capitol building, are the words “Inauguration of President and Vice President,” the names of Bush and Cheney and the year 2005. A gold halo is etched around the top of the glasses, which were made by Libbey Inc.

With a pair of flutes already being marketed for $29.95 on a merchandise Web site – www.gopshoppe.com – the glasses look likely to become collector favorites, especially since “only the people that got a ticket to the inauguration itself get a glass,” McLeod said.

The glass-and-ceramic sector of the screen-printing industry has fairly bubbled in recent years. “There’s huge competition, probably a good 50 of us out there,” said McLeod, a longtime sales-and-marketing specialist.

“So many advertising dollars were always spent on TV and radio. We’re seeing an awful lot of money coming back now with Fortune 500 companies putting names on things and giving them away.”

McLeod’s business, begun in 1979, had just six employees when he acquired it in 1997. He built a new factory, installed advanced equipment and anticipates a 40 percent jump in sales this year alone.

Years ago, the company won bids to inscribe mugs for The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, the Super Bowl and the Kentucky Derby. But the bulk of orders are now filled by 2,500 college bookstores and hundreds of wineries on both the East and West coasts. In addition, it is the official drinkware printer for the Professional Golf Association.

The company also garnered one other inaugural coup ­- etching the signatures of Bush and Cheney on 2,000 blue coffee mugs that will be presented as special gifts.



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