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Glasshouses were started in colonial days at Jamestown, Salem, and New Amsterdam, and in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but except for a few glass beads thought to have been made at Jamestown, little is known today of their output. The real history of American glass begins in 1739 with Caspar Wistar in southern New Jersey. Wistar was not a glass man but he brought skilled workmen from Germany who made glass for him. Indeed, from the beginning, American glass has been guided and influenced by foreign craftsmen from Germany, Holland, France, England, and other countries. Wistar has been given such a prominent place in American glass history that until the last decade all American free-blown glass was called "Wistarberg." Actually only a few pieces of glass are known to have been made at the Wistar glassworks, but free-blown glass similar to that made by the early workmen whom Wistar brought over continued to be made in the same technique, forms, color, and decoration in small glasshouses in New York, New England, Pennsylvania, and Ohio as late as the 1870s And 90 per cent of the glass known as Wistar or South Jersey type was made in the late 18th and 19 qth centuries.

South Jersey-type glass is made of "green" or bottle glass. The natural colors are greens-from light olive to dark green; aquamarine; and amberfrom golden brown to honey. Artificial colors, which are less common, are blue, both light and cobalt, and amethyst. South Jersey-type glass is freeblown. The ornamentation is governed by the process and, except for the occasional use of the pattern mold, it is shaped and decorated by blowing and by hand manipulation. The decoration includes (a) prunts and seals, which are applied blobs of glass; (b) quilling or trailing, which consists of applied wavy ribbons; (c) rigaree, which consists of ribbon in parallel lines; (d) threading, which consists of rows of superimposed glass on necks or rims; (e) crimping, which is a dent or flute in the foot of an article; ( f ) superimposed or tooled gathers of glass into a swirl or drape in the lily-pad design. The most characteristic type of decoration on South Jerseytype glass is the lily-pad. There are three varieties of lily-pad: the earliest is a stem and a bead, the second has a broader stem and oval pad, and the third type really resembles a lily-pad. Some articles are decorated with several types of decoration, such as a threaded neck, lily-pad on the body, and a crimped foot. Handles and finials are particularly decorative, and pieces are often threated with contrasting colors, such as red threading on the neck of an aquamarine pitcher.

Sugar bowls, creamers, pitchers of various sizes, vases, bowls and compotes, salts, and inkwells were made in free-blown glass. Besides these articles there were workmen's whimseys such as glass hats, slippers and shoes, canes, rolling pins, toys, and witch balls. There is a similarity between the pieces of South Jersey-type glass made in the different sections of the country, not only because of the use of the same technique and the same type of glass, but also because the workmen are the descendants or apprentices of the original foreign-trained craftsmen. Of course, there are differences between the glass of the various sections of the country, and, generally speaking, Middle Western glass is less sophisticated in shape and has less decoration. Cobalt blue is typical of New Jersey, while aquamarine is more often found in New York, and blood-amber glass pieces are associated with Stoddard, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. Indeed, there are many variations which the collector will wish to study elsewhere in detail, for this reference is only for orientation and general information.

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