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The Centennial and Pattern Glass
The Centennial Exposition, commemorating the one-hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, exerted a far-reaching influence on the industrial arts of the United States. After it was announced in 1873 that the financing of this first World's Fair in America had been assured through the sale of one million ten-dollar shares, manufacturers of all kinds began to plan their displays.
Among them were the makers of pattern glass who realized that this Centennial in Philadelphia offered them a profitable opportunity. So, for a year or two before its opening in Fairway Park, pressed-glass factories were very active originating and producing new patterns in glassware. The various companies, especially those of the Ohio River area, located in and around Pittsburgh and at Wheeling, West Virginia, broke away from the styles they had been following for some twenty-five years. Instead of conventionalized motifs, the designers turned to patterns stemming directly from American life.
Between 1875 and continuing for five years or more, some of the definitely American patterns were produced. Among them was the Liberty Bell pattern where the motif was that historical symbol of Independence. In quick succession came the highly prized Westward Ho, and others where domestic, wild or circus animals dominated the design. Along with these, some designers in a glass factory, so far unidentified, originated a pattern in which the horseshoe, traditional symbol of good luck, was the dominating motif.
It occurred in the center of plates and two sizes of platters. On covered pieces, such as sugar bowl, marmalade jar, or compote, the knobs were in the form of standing horseshoes with an anchor in the center. Salt dishes, large and small, were horseshoe-shaped. The horseshoe does not appear on goblets, wine glasses, creamers, celery vases, or waterpitchers. Instead there is a diagonal stippled panel of small flowers superimposed on the stippled leaves and conventionalized ornaments which accompany the horseshoe motif on the other pieces.
From the quantities that have survived, dishes of this pattern must have sold widely. I can remember a small Vermont hotel, located near the entrance to the county fair ground, where sugar bowls, creamers, and other pieces of the Horseshoe pattern were in evidence on a number of the tables. Today the pattern is understandably popular in sections of the country where riding and horse shows play an important part in the social life. Horseshoe is among the patterns that still can be bought at reasonable prices.