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LATE NINETEENTH CENTURY GLASS AND PAPERWEIGHTS
FROM the technical standpoint much fine glass was made in America in the late Nineteenth Century. However, the general deterioration of taste prevalent at the time invaded the glass industry, and although the glass made was beautiful in color and unique in effect, most of late Nineteenth Century glass is fancy and Victorian in form. There are types of fancy or "art" glass, as some of it was called, that are well worth collecting. Prices are not high, and there is a great deal of this glass available.
The most important types of glasswares made at this time were Peachblow, Burmese, Amberina, Pomona, Agata, Satin or Motherof-pearl, Spangled, and Hobnail. Foremost among the "art" glass type was Peachblow glass which resembles Chinese porcelain of a similar name, and in color shades from ivory to deep rose-red. Peachblow was originated at the New England Glass Company in about 1886. In fact, it is often marked N. E. G. W. Wildrose patented March a, 1886. New England Glass Company Peachblow has an acid or velvet surface and is the same inside as outside. It was also made at Mt. Washington Glass Company and by Hobbs, Brockunier & Company of Wheeling, West Virginia. The Mt. Washington Peachblow is more delicate and shades from pink to yellow or blue-violet. The Peachblow made at Hobbs, Brockunier is darker in color, shading from deep red to yellowish, and has a white lining. The copies of the famous Morgan Chinese vase were made at Hobbs, Brockunier. Peachblow ware was made in a variety of articles including rose bowls, finger bowls, baskets, tumblers, sherbet cups, salts, peppers, pitchers, decanters, and many Chineseshaped vases which are the finest pieces.
A variation of peachblow with mottled effect on the glossy surface was Agata and was made at the New England Glass. Another glass of pale amber shading to ruby was called Amberine and made at the New England Glass Company and also at the Washington Glass Company. It was blown and patterned in molds and shows designs of expanded diamonds, swirled ribbing, and inverted thumbprint. Some pieces are molded. Amberin was made in many shapes including tumblers and pitcher sets,berry sets, toothpick, spoon, and celery holders, finger bowls, tray,fancy dishes,and vases. Amberina contains gold and has a metallic rings. Burmese glass shades from lemon-yellow at the base to pinktop. It was made, in both glossy and dull finish, into many decorative shapes and tablewares. The bowls have crimped tops.Burmese was originated at the Mt. Washington Glass Company in about 1885 and continued to be made up to 1891. Pomona glass was clear blown glass. The surface is treated with etching, tinting, of staining of a straw color, and pieces also often have a garlandof pale blue flowers and straw-colored leaves. Some Pomona is pattern-molded and it may have a band of color about the rim. It was patented by the New England Glass Company in 1885. Tortoise shell glass, which is amber in color with darker spots was made at Sandwich. Hobnail and Spangled glass were novelties made at Hobbs, Brockunier in the 1880s. The original name of Hobnail was Opalescent Dewdrop, a name which better describes the ware. Hobnail glass was pattern-pressed or -molded and hand-manipulated. It was made in a wide variety of tablewares and in barber bottles of various colors. Spangled glass was ornamented with spangles or flakes of mica. Many small baskets with handles and pinched or crinkled tops were made of Spangled glass and many other fancy glasswares. These are especially popular with collectors of late Nineteenth Century glass. Vasa murrhina, made in the Cape Cod Glass Company, also contained mica as well as such metals as gold, silver, nickel, and copper. It was blown and patterned-molded.
Satin or Mother-of-pearl glass is one of the most popular Victorian glasswares. Satin glass is acid-frosted and was made in a variety of plain and shaded colors. It was blown in a pattern mold, and the rarest pieces are diamond-quilted, herringbone, or polkadot pattern. Satin glass was made in many shades of blue, green, rose, yellow, brown, amber and gold, as well as stripes of yellow and white, blue and white, and blue and pink. The rarest colors are robin's egg blue and deep bittersweet orange. Some pieces of Satin glass are painted or enameled and often frosted leaves are applied. Satin glass is made in many fancy vase shapes as well as pitcher and tumbler sets, sugars and creamers, fruit bowls and rose bowls with pinched-in tops.
Silvered glass was made as early as 1855- It was blown and much of it was painted with white and colored designs of crude brushwork. Articles included doorknobs, tiebacks for curtains, globes, Victorian mantel vases, goblets, salts, candlesticks, and many other shapes. In the I880s rose, blue, and yellow glass with opalescent bars on a contrasting transparent ground was made in Steubenville, Ohio, and at Martin's Ferry. Patterns included a vertical bar, checkered bar, zigzag bar, and swirl, and were made in the form of pitchers, glasses, bowls, and other tableware. Tiffany's Favrile Glass, which was made in the i89os, is one of the finest of the socalled "art" wares. In the process of making Favrile glass variouscolored glass rods were blended by heat and then exposed to the fumes of vaporized metals. The imaginative and fanciful designs were made in the process of blowing. Spirally twisted lines and veins suggest leaves, waves, or a peacock feather. These were made by twisting and spinning the glass as it was being blown so that no two pieces are alike. The colors are bluish green and gold, a light mother-of-pearl and red. Also such unusual colors as mazarine, aquamarine, and turquoise blue and Samian red are seen in some of the finer pieces. Pure cobalt produces the blue; gold, the red; manganese, the violet shade; and iron and gold the green. Manganese and iron produced yellow. Favrile glass is iridescent and has a silky texture. Besides vases of many shapes, cigarette and toilet boxes, lamp shades, bonbon dishes, a plainer glass in tones of pale yellow, rose, and green was made in goblets and wine glasses of various sizes. Marks found on the bottoms of many of the pieces are L C.Tiffany-Favrile; Louis C. Tiffany; Louis C. Tiffany, Inc., Favrile; and L.C.T.
Another form of glassmaking in America in the late Nineteenth Century included glass paperweights. Paperweights were made in France at Baccarat, Clichy, and St. Louis, and in England as early as 1820, but were not made in America until much later. American paperweights followed the traditional European styles; in fact, they were first made by workmen from English and French glass factories. American paperweights, however, do not usually equal the design or technical perfection of the finest French paperweights. Some of the best American paperweights were made at Sandwich and later at Mt. Washington Glass Company by Nicholas Lutz, who was trained in the factory at St. Louis, France. He made millefiori and candy cane weights, but specialized in fruit and flower weights. Well known among the Nicholas Lutz-Sandwich weights are a pink poinsettia, and a purple or blue dahlia or pansy or fuchsia on a white latticinio background. He also made weights with tiny pears, apples, or cherries and green leaves on a white latticinio ground. One of the loveliest and best-known Sandwich weights has five strawberries with leaves and blossoms and dew bubbles on a fine lacy ground. Sandwich weights are not marked or dated. The finest quality of flint glass was used. A weight much sought after by collectors is a Mt. Washington weight with a frilled salmon-pink rose held by a hand with a gold ring on one finger. There are also leaves, fruit, and two butterflies in the weight. The blown-glass pear and apple made by Francois Pierre, a Baccarat workman employed at the New England Glass Works, are distinctive and original. They are set upon a crystal base and are not encased. Often the fruit has a leaf or stem or, like the popular Gravenstein apple, is set directly upright on the base. A blown yellow quince is rare. Cameo weights of Washington, Lincoln, and Victoria and Albert were also made at Mt. Washington and during the Civil War they made green glass turtle weights. The Pairpont Manufacturing Company made a cameo weight of Robert E. Lee. They also made weights with stars, fans, and a pinwheel design as well as a cobalt blue and red spiral design weight. Some of the finest American paperweights were made by John L. Gilliland at Brooklyn. Gilliland excelled in faceted overlay millefiori-type weights which often had pink, green, and white center canes, and a rim of dark blue canes.
The weights made by Whitall, Tatum & Company at Milleville, New Jersey, are individual in design. The first were made in 1863 and were such designs as the fountain, swirl, devil's fire, eagles, horses, dogs, boats, and flowers in pots. However, the most distinctive Milleville weight was the Milleville Rose. It was made in deep rose, pink, white, and yellow, and is found with and without stems. The rose is usually upright and rests on a heavy circular foot with cylinder or baluster stem. These were made from about 1905 to 1912. Although they are attributed to Ralph Barber they were also probably made by other workmen. A smaller flat rose weight was made in Zanesville, Ohio. Other well-known weights made at Milleville are the hunting scenes with a man, dog, two quail on a log, and a fence. The colors are delicate and the casing is cut and faceted. Weights with eagles were also made at Milleville. Late in the Nineteenth Century the sentimental weight was a popular type. It contained such inscriptions as Friendship, Home Sweet Home, and Remember Me set within a wreath. A paperweight with the inscription From a Friend has a hand, a dove, and a letter within a wreath. First names such as Maud or Hope with an anchor set in a wreath were also popular as were patriotic and Masonic emblems. These later paperweights are inferior in design and workmanship. Other weights, some of aquamarine bottle glass with high domes, were made at New York and Midwestern factories. Weights were also made at the Dorflinger factory in Pittsburgh and probably at many other late Nineteenth Century factories. Paperweights were made as doorstops, doorknobs, tops of inkwells, vases and buttons.
If you are going to collect paperweights remember that there are reproductions on the market that were made in Czechoslovakia and Japan. If you have an appreciation for good color and design you will not be led astray. Also, the workmanship should be good. An old weight is heavy, a reproduction light. Too many bubbles and too many scratches interfere with the design.