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BLOWN THREE-MOLD GLASS
ONE of the types of American glass especially popular today is blown three-mold glass. This glass was made at glass0 works in different sections of the country between 1820 and 1830. It was made to compete with the demand for foreign cut glass; in fact the patterns are the same or variations of those on English and Irish cut glass.
The process was a revival of an ancient technique, and used full-sized hinged metal molds made in several sections. One way to distinguish blown three-mold glass is by locating the mold marks as evidenced by a slight break in the pattern or vertical lines that indicate the section joinings of the mold. However, there are no sharp ridges, and the design or pattern surface itself is smooth and rounded rather than sharp, in contrast to the cold sharpness of pressed glass. Also the pattern is raised on the inside as well as the outside of the article, while both pressed and pattern-molded glass have a smooth inner surface. Both bottle glass and flint glass were used in making blown three-mold glass. This glass has some of the beauty and irregularities of shape and metal of the early free-blown glass. Most pieces of blown three-mold are a combination of the mold and hand-manipulation methods of glassmaking. Many of the pieces of blown three-mold glass are both formed and patterned in the mold; others, such as glass hats, have the crown blown and patterned in the mold and the brim finished by hand. Rims and handles of pitchers are handmanipulated, while the body is formed and pattern-molded. Sometimes several different articles such as decanters, pitchers, and sugar bowls are blown in the same mold. The molds are made of metal, hinged, and have a pattern cut on their inside surface.
Generally speaking, blown three-mold glass is divided into three types according to its design. Designs which are combinations of ribbing, fluting, diamonds, and sunbursts are called geometric; elaborate designs of scrolls, palmettes, and hearts in high relief are called baroque; and patterns with Gothic or Roman archmotifs are called arch.
The geometric designs form the largest group. The motifs include vertical, horizontal, and diagonal ribbings and flutings, as well as gadroons; also included are diamond and sunburst motifs in various combinations, and circles and ovals of various sizes. Geometric designs are further divided into three groups. Group I includes patterns made up of various arrangements of ribbing and fluting motifs. These are arranged in several different vertical and horizontal and swirled groupings. Group II includes patterns with quilting or diamond diapering in connection with the ribbing and fluting. This motif is arranged in all-over pattern, in various width borders, and in panels. Sunburst and diamond motifs . These motifs are arranged in borders of various widths together with fluting and ribbing, and the variations are called Sunburst, Bull's-Eye Sunburst, Diamond Sunburst, Waffle Sunburst, and Sunburst-in-Square. These variations of the three groups of geometric patterns are found on decanters of several sizes, toilet bottles, flip glasses, salts, inkwells, pitchers, goblets, cruets, glass hats, and other articles.
The rare early square decanters were probably the first articles blown in a mold. They were blown in two-piece molds in quart and pint size and are found only with wide diamond diaper bands together with vertical fluting. The stoppers are mushroom type, blown in a two-piece mold, or pressed wheel shape. They were usually blown in green glass, varying in color from light aquamarine to emerald green, but have been found in green `with amber streaks, and amethyst.,/p>
Decanters and castor bottles have been found with more different geometric patterns than any other articles. Castors are usually clear glass. Decanters in quart and pint sizes are found in clear flint glass. Decanters are also found in bottle glass colors such as aquamarine, olive-green, and ambers. Some decanters with geometric designs, and Rum, Wine, Brandy, Gin or Cherry incised lettering in a panel, are particularly interesting. Decanters usually had one or more applied and tooled collars and stoppers of molded mushroom type, pattern-molded stoppers in various shapes of which the acorn is the rarest, or pressed wheel-shaped stoppers. Although stoppers were made in the various geometric patterns, bottles are seldom found with a matching pattern stopper; and although the right size and proportion is more important than exact pattern match, a bottle with vertical ribbing looks better with a stopper whose ribs run the same way than it does with a stopper patterned in diagonal ribbing.
Carafes and hexagonal bottles are rare, but toilet bottles are available in considerable numbers. Since they are found in a wide color range from sapphire blue through shades of purple to green and amber, and in such combinations as red with amber streaks, they are especially popular with those who love color. Tumblers and other small glasses with a wide variety of geometric patterns are found in clear glass, natural bottle glass colors, and rare artificial colors such as amethyst and sapphire blue. Inkwells, in various geometric patterns of which the diamond diaper between bands of ribbing is the most often found, were blown from bottle glass in ambers and greens. Hats were blown in the same molds and also are found in sunburst patterns. They are most commonly found in clear glass, but were also made in artificial colors and in bottle glass colors.
Pitchers of various sizes, blown in geometric decanter molds, were usually in clear glass, but have been found in blues, purples, aquamarine, and other colors. Such articles as bowls, sugar bowls, celery vases, candlesticks, and lamps were rare. Salt cellars, however, were made in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and patterns. They were made in lavenders, purples, sapphires, and greens. Clear glass salts are rarer than colored, but salts generally are rare and favorite pieces with collectors.
Arch patterns form the second group of blown three-mold glass. These consist of Gothic or Roman arches alone or together with sprays of leaves. Articles in these patterns are scarce. The best-known articles are the decanters and pitchers in Arch and Fern with Snake, and some of these decanters are found with liquor inscriptions. An Arch pattern is known to have been made at Sandwich. In fact, the Sandwich Glass Company was one of the largest producers of blown three-mold glass, and large quantities were made before 1849. Colors of the early pieces included dark blue, light green, amethyst, opalescent, and clear glass. Colored blown three-mold pieces are particularly popular with collectors today.
Baroque patterns are characterized by bold elaborate high relief motifs such as palmettes, guilloche, and hearts. The patterns include Shell and Ribbing, Shell with Diamond, Star, Heart and Chain, Horizontal Palm Leaf, and Horn of Plenty. The bestknown patterns are the Horn of Plenty, and Shell and Ribbing. Large pitchers, decanters, and creamers are the articles most often found with baroque patterns. They are most common in clear glass. These baroque patterns show French influence; one variation is even called French Baroque and may be of foreign make. It is probably later than other blown three-mold glass patterns since it has the appearance of the later pressed glass.
Blown three-mold glass was made in many glasshouses although only a few can definitely be listed as having made it. Those interested in Sandwich glass may find pitchers, decanters, toilet bottles, castor bottles, creamers, salts, and various types of glasses available in patterns with diamond and ribbing and simple sunburst patterns. Hats, glasses, and creamers with diamond sunburst and herringbone ribbing were made at Sandwich as were decanters and creamers with vertical and horizontal ribbing. These Sandwich articles in sapphire and purple blues and clear glass are all rare. Cordial glasses of various shapes with the sunburst motif are also rare. The Arch patterns were also made at Sandwich including the Arch and Fern with Snake. Also the Baroque patterns of guilloche bands, ribs, beading, and Palm Leaf were found on Sandwich decanters. The New England Glass Company also produced blown three-mold glass, at least in one pattern of all-over diamond diapering and horizontal ribbing. This is an early type and heavy. The Marlboro Street Factory at Keene, New Hampshire, made blown three-mold pieces in flint glass blown into decanter and inkwell molds. They also made decanters and inkwells in amber and green bottle glass in geometric patterns of diamond diapering with vertical bands. Other small pieces such as hats, mugs, small glasses, and lamps were blown in the same molds. Bottle and flint-glass decanters were also blown in molds with Bull's-Eye Sunburst and Waffle Diamond Sunburst designs with ribbings and diamond diapering. Perhaps the best-known blown three-mold pieces made at Keene are the olive-green and olive-amber inkwells and hats.
Blown three-mold glass decanters, carafes, cruets, creamers, tumblers, and inkwells, usually in heavy green bottle glass, were made at the Mount Vernon Glass Company in New York state. The patterns made include vertical ribbing and diamond sunburst bands together with spiral and vertical bands. A few clear glass decanters, pitchers, and other pieces in aquamarine have also been found. Bottle glass inkwells in green and amber were made in blown three-mold patterns with diamond all-over design, and diamond diapering and vertical ribbed bands were also made at Coventry, Connecticut.
The Mantua Glass Works, and the glass works of Parks, Edmunds & Parks established in 1824 at Kent, Ohio, are known to have produced blown three-mold glass, and considerable amounts of this glass are found in the Midwest. A diamond all-over band design with vertical ribbing has been found on pitchers, decanters,and covered dishes all blown in the same mold. They were made at Mantua, Ohio. A pattern with two bands of diamond diapering and vertical ribbed band has been attributed to Kent. Other variations of the diamond borders with vertical flutings, waffle, and half-sunburst bands are Midwestern. These Ohio pitchers, bowls, and decanters were usually blown in greens, ambers, and clear glass. Blown three-mold glass was also probably made in New York, Jersey City, Philadelphia, and the South. Certain baroque patterns were favorites and pieces of this type are more likely to be found in these localities.
Blown three-mold glass has all the charm of early glass and, coming before the period of wholesale commercial glassmaking, it still has the mark of the individual workman and the irregularities of the craft. To appreciate and select good examples of blown three-mold glass you must base your judgment on the ability to see fine line and form, and to recognize early glass shapes, in addition to possessing the data on patterns that is found in more detailed information in the books listed in the bibliography.