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Deming Jarves and Lacy Sandwich Glass

Among the types of glass developed in the United States during the early nineteenth century was the well-known lacy Sandwich glass. This highly decorated ware was made in quantity from carefully-cut molds and sold at popular prices. The man responsible for it was Deming Jarves whose factory was opened in 1825 at Sandwich, Massachusetts. Here, in a heavily wooded area on Cape Cod fifty miles from Boston, he founded the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company where the technique of pressed glass was perfected. The glass produced by Jarves was of a quality unexcelled anywhere in the United States and compared favorably with that produced at Baccarat, in France, so renowned for its elaborate glassware. Three years after its founding, Jarves' company introduced cast glassware with an ornate pattern in relief and a background of fine pinpoint stippling. This stippling catches the light, producing the silvery lace-like effect that gives the ware its name.

The years of greatest production were between 1828 and 1842. A number of patterns appeared, all with the stippled background which even the best Pittsburgh glass houses could not duplicate. Consequently the name, "Sandwich," became synonymous with first-quality lacy glass. Most Sandwich glass is of the clear flint type, although colored pieces were infrequently manufactured. Deming Jarves was interested in the production of colored glass, and though not a glass blower himself, he carried on many experiments with new tints. The public demand, however, was for the clear glass, so that colored Sandwich is comparatively rare.

Jarves' factory produced many other types of glass, but the lacy glass was unique and the type for which he is best known today. It was apparently intended as an inexpensive substitute for the more costly cut glass. The patterns were numerous and, though they bore little resemblance to those of cut glass, they were so pleasing and the product so reasonable in price that few Victorian households were without at least a few pieces.

It was made in all the forms found on the well-appointed dining tables of the period, from cup plates to trays, compotes, and vegetable dishes. In addition there were individual salt dishes, some cups and saucers, and egg cups.

The patterns were inspired by various sources. Sometimes the design is a combination of geometric motifs so arranged as to simulate fine lace. The floral designs include the rose and thistle, lily, dahlia, tulip and acanthus, and daisy. A pattern of Gothic arches with heart-shaped motifs reflects the influence of the Victorian Gothic revival. Patriotic designs, such as the eagle pattern with thirteen stars, are also found.

Probably the most popular patterns were the heart and leaf, the lyre, and the scrolled peacock's-eye. This pattern was widely used on bowls,plates, and baskets.

Lacy Sandwich was made as late as 1850 but as the baroque patterns became more prevalent, the stippled background appeared less often and finally disappeared entirely.

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