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( Originally Published 1963 )
Plates 6 inches in diameter were important in most patterns. Some had plates in two or three sizes up to 10 inches in diameter. The more sizes plates were made in, the greater the popularity of the pattern, experts say. Platters seem not to have been as essential as serving dishes with or without covers. A syrup jug and pickle dishes were made in many patterns. Sauce bottles and caster bottles, a berry bowl, and, more rarely, an ice tub were other possibilities. Candy dishes became more general in patterns of the 1880's and 1890's.
Most sauce dishes were round, but occasionally a pattern would have oval or square ones. Bleeding Heart, for example, had both round and oval sauce dishes, Shell and Tassel had round and square ones. To complicate matters further, Shell and Tassel sauce dishes were made both flat with a handle and footed. Two and occasionally three styles of goblets and water tumblers were not unusual in any one pattern.
The earliest patterns were made of excellent-quality glass. By the 1880's and especially in the 1890's, some of the patterns were interesting and attractive, but the glass itself might be of poor quality, heavy and dull.
Tableware was made in hundreds of patterns between 1850 and 1900. Such motifs as hobnail and bull's-eye became as important in pressed glass as they had been in cut glass. The bull'seye or some adaptation of it was the chief motif on a group of handsome patterns made of brilliant, heavy glass of good quality in the 1860's. The bull's-eye, which is a concave, round ball, predominated on the pattern of that name, as well as on such variants as Bull's-Eye with Fleur-de-Lis, Bull'sEye with Diamond Point, and Pillar and Bull's-Eye. Other 1860 patterns in this series were Horn of Plenty, Comet, Tulip and its variants, and New England Pineapple.
The New England Pineapple pattern was first made at the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company. Later, the very same pattern was made in other places as far west as Ohio. Outside of New England, this pattern frequently was called Loop and Jewel.
Diamond, Sawtooth, and Waffle patterns during the 1860's also copied their motifs from cut glass. Thumbprint and ribbing were other classic forms used in many combinations and variations for patterns in the 1850's and 1860's.
The tiny pointed hobnail called a dewdrop distinguished more than a dozen patterns that were produced by glasshouses in New England, including those in Sandwich and Cambridge, Massachusetts, the United States Glass Company and other smaller firms in western Pennsylvania, Bellaire Goblet Company of Findlay, Ohio, and others in this state and Indiana, from the 1860's through the 1880's. There was a plain Dewdrop pattern, but the most popular ones used dewdrops to set off another motif. Beaded Dewdrop, Paneled Dewdrop, Dew and Raindrop, Dewdrop and Fan, Dewdrop with Star, and 101 are some of the better-known. Of them all, Dewdrop with Star is as popular today among collectors as it was with buyers when it was madein clear glass, several colors, and opaque white.
By the 1870's, stippling and frosting set off many patterns that became popular. These techniques gave the pieces a light and airy appearance that called to mind the early lacy pressed glass. However, these late sets displayed very definite patterns.
Three of the most popular frosted patterns, Westward Ho, Lion, and Three Face, were made first in the 1870's by Pennsylvania factories. James Gillinder and Sons of Philadelphia and Greensburg, Pennsylvania, who originated the popular Westward Ho pattern, which had a kneeling Indian as the knob on covered pieces, seems to have been expert in the technique of frosting. The Indian and the cover on which he crouched were frosted; so also was the band encircling the body of all pieces, which displayed a log cabin, a bison running across the plains, and running deer. Lion pattern or a variant of it was made by Richards and Hartley in Tarentum, Pennsylvania, James Gillinder and Sons, and probably other firms. Three Face, conceived by George Duncan and Sons of Pittsburgh, showed a woman's face full-view, profile, and halfway between the two. This was also known as Three Sisters and perhaps Three Graces.
These as well as other patterns that combined frosted with clear glass are sometimes called camphor glass. This was not a descriptive term used in the catalogues of nineteenth-century glasshouses. It has been coined by twentiethcentury antique dealers. Certainly it arose because the frosting of the glass, which had a smooth surface, called to mind the look of a bottle of spirits of camphor after the camphor had crystallized. When frosting embellished patterns prior to 1850, it was accomplished by another method than that used on these patterns of the 1870's, and was rough to the touch.
Stippling was done on many flower and fruit patterns. It was the same sort of stippling as was done to produce lacy glass, but on these later flower and fruit patterns the stippling did not form an all-over background, but perhaps was confined to leaves with the fruit standing out in clear and perhaps raised glass, or to ovals or medallions around the fruit or flower. In any case, the effect was quite different from that of the stippling on lacy glass. Notable were the coveted Rose in Snow and such grape patterns as Paneled Grape and Magnet and Grape. Magnet and Grape was made in one pattern with a frosted leaf and in another with a stippled leaf.
Many delightful flower and fruit patterns were in demand during the 1870's and 1880's. The blossoms generally were easily recognizable whether they were fuchsias, clematis, thistles, morning glories, roses, or many others. There were fewer bird patterns-the four definite ones were Swan, Cardinal Bird, Hummingbird and Fern, and Frosted Stork. Several with unidentifiable birds such as Flying Bird and Strawberry (sometimes called Bluebird) or Bird and Fountain were made in the 1890's, and were poorer-quality glass.
These flower and fruit patterns include some of the most popular ones with present-day collectors. Wildflower, Bellflower, Rose in Snow, and Blackberry (this one particularly in opaque white) are getting scarce. If a genuine nineteenth-century piece of Bellflower or Blackberry can be found, it can be sold quickly for a good price.
That flower and fruit patterns were also popular when they were first produced is proved by the large number of variants that were made. Fully a dozen patterns had grapes as the dominant motif, a half-dozen used tulips, at least four had roses, and three had cherry designs. Bleeding hearts appeared on several patterns, each one slightly different from any of the others. This repeated use of a motif to produce a variant pattern usually meant that, having noted the popular reception given a pattern, other firms adapted it to designs of their own.
Bellflower and Daisy and Button were patterns in a class by themselves. Vast quantities of both were made in the 1800's and reproduced in the 1900's. Bellflower, with its tendrils of delicate blossoms standing out against a ribbed background, was made by many glass firms from 1840, or possibly earlier, until the last years of the century. It was made in all sorts of decorative pieces, such as lamps, cologne bottles, and decanters, as well as tableware sets.
Daisy and Button was not made before the 1880's, some glass experts believe. Even at this late date, pressed glass was imitating cut glass, for pressed Daisy and Button was an adaptation of the popular Russian pattern in cut glass. Daisy and Button may have been introduced by the Sandwich factory, but does not compare in quality with their pieces made 50 years earlier. The daisy may be combined with a smooth, round button or with a starred button. Other variants included either of these two basic motifs worked in with a V ornament, thumbprint, crossbar, or panel.
Probably all patterns were made in clear glass. Just as some of the early lacy glass was made in rich colors, so also were many of the later patterns. Many were made in two or more colors as well as in clear glass, and as the century wore on, colored glass seemed to become more popular. Bellflower was made to some extent in deep blue, amber, opaque white, and clear glass. By the 1880's when Daisy and Button appeared, it was made in two shades of blue, two shades of yellow, as well as light and dark amber, apple-green, dark green, and amethyst.
Patterns in all one color and in a combination of clear glass and a color were made in greatest quantity during the 1880's and 1890's. This also was the period when cranberry glass, that soft rosy red that has been so popular among collectors in the mid-1900's, was first popular. Inverted Thumbprint, a pattern with round marks that stood out on the inside of the glass, was widely made in cranberry as well as other colors. A deep ruby-red and a pigeon blood also were in some demand. Thousand Eye, encircled on the outside with rows of raised buttons in graduated sizes, was made in true red and other colors but not in cranberry, as far as I know.
A distinction must be made between colors achieved by adding chemicals to the liquid glass and color that was only on the surface. Red and white patterns made during the 1890's usually had the red painted on the outer surfaces (in the appropriate places) of the pressed glass piece. Red Block was one of the patterns on which the color was painted. Nowadays, some of these pieces are in excellent condition; others such as creamers have the red worn off. Pink, yellow, or blue with white or clear glass and Amberina (shaded yellow to red) were other combinations offered to tempt customers.
Vaseline glass is a variation that is highly prized now. The name is a perfect description, for the pieces were a clean, light yellow with an underlying tint of blue that gave the oily look of the salve known as vaseline. The yellow had no trace of muddiness. Vaseline glass was made in both clear and opaque yellow, and sometimes the two were combined in one piece. Occasionally, too, vaseline was combined with clear glass.
Opaque glass, whether white or colored, was not transparent. There were both a caramel opaque pressed glass and a creamy opaque one nicknamed "custard glass" (this last also a product of the 1890's).
Of all the opaque glass, none is more popular now than the sort usually called milk glass. Glass with this appearance had been blown in Europe and England for many years, so it was natural that it would be tried in pressed glass here. The pressed opaque white glass acquired several names during the last century, when it was variously known as opaque white, white enamel, and alabaster. Opaque glass also was made in colors, particularly in shades of blue and green. When it is colored, "opaque glass" is the correct name, not "milk glass."
Opaque white or milk glass was pressed in quantity between 1870 and 1900 and is copied currently in equal abundance. It's not always easy to tell whether a piece of milk glass is 10 or 100 years old. However, if certain characteristics are kept firmly in mind, it should be possible to do so. Nineteenthcentury milk glass had a translucent quality, and was white but the white had a blue tinge. The translucency and the blueness can be noted when a piece is held up to the light. The color, if it can be called that, has a skim-milk cast. Modern milk glass is much whiter, so much so that it is almost a deadwhite; it is also a denser and often thicker glass.
After 1870, tableware sets in a few patterns were made in opaque white or milk glass. Sawtooth and Waffle, which had been made much earlier in clear glass, at this time appeared in milk glass. Princess Feather, Icicle, and Wheat, as well as several of the fruit patterns, including Blackberry, Strawberry, Cherry, Gooseberry, and a Grape pattern were especially handsome in milk glass.
Milk glass, however, is probably best known for the odd dishes, particularly plates and bowls with lacy openwork or lattice edges an inch or more wide, and the vegetable dishes with covers in animal forms. A veritable barnyard of covered dishes can be found. Sometimes the covered dishes were all white, all opaque blue or opaque green. Then again the base of the dish might be opaque blue, the lion or lamb cover opaque white, or the other way around. Platters, except for the small, shallow ones in the shape of one or two hands with palms upward, were simpler than plates and covered dishes. Lamps and candlesticks naturally were made in milk or opaque white glass, as well as some vases.
Occasionally, a piece of opaque white glass is more opal than milky. That is, when it is held toward the light, it shows "fire." Opalescent pressed glass, either clear or colored, is valued highly by collectors. Berry and water sets, curtain tiebacks, and novelties were outstanding in opalescent glass. So were such patterns of the 1880's as Ribbed Opal Glass, Swirled Opal Glass, and
Opal Hobnail. Pennsylvania glasshouses in Tarentum and Pittsburgh, and to some extent others in West Virginia and Ohio, became well known for their beautiful opalescent pieces.
The use of two colors of opaque glass did not stop with the dishes with animal covers. Opaque white and a color were combined or fused in one piece. The most common name for this twocolor glass is marble, but other descriptive ones are slag, agate, Connecticut, and calico glass. Challinor, Taylor and Company of Tarentum, Pennsylvania, who manufactured this glass during the 1870's and 1880's, called the two-color opaque glass "mosaic." During these decades, other firms in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, and New England also made marble or agate glass.
Marble seems an appropriate name for the pieces that combined a shade of purple or rose with white. The color ran in streaks as it does in the stone called marble. A really deep purple, not amethyst, was one of the handsomest combinations. Opaque combined with yellow in various shades, some of them almost brown, also was not rare. Blue and white marble or agate glass was made in smaller quantity, so this is a real find.
The Pennsylvania firm made marble glass tableware in two patterns, one with fluting, the other a flower pattern. However, when a person looks at a piece of marble glass, the pattern seems secondary to the coloring.
Plates in two sizes, 8 and 10 inches, with a wide, open edge also were made in marble glass in quantity. Candlesticks, vases, match-holders, and various odd dishes are other possibilities.
Thousand Eye, another one of the most popular patterns among collectors, must have been equally popular among customers of the last century. Like Sawtooth and Bellflower patterns, it was made in a staggering number of different pieces. There was even a twineholder. Thousand Eye was made in clear glass, in several colors, in opaque blue, and in opalescent. When patterns such as Thousand Eye were made in clear glass and colors, not all pieces of a set were made necessarily in all colors. A complete set was more likely to be made in clear glass.
Many of these fancier types of pressed glass as well as rainbow hues first made their appearance in the 1870's. For one thing, great impetus was given to the pressed glass industry by the Centennial Exposition staged in Philadelphia in 1876. For that event, historical motifs were the obvious sort of decoration.
A complete set of pressed glass tableware called Liberty Bell, or Centennial, was made by James Gillinder and Sons of Philadelphia for the Centennial Exposition. A toy set also was made in this pattern. Both the table set and the toy set were made in clear glass and some of the pieces of tableware in opaque white as well, although these are rare now. In addition to a small open salt dish, salt shakers were made in the shape of the Liberty Bell, with pewter tops. Other little bells with metal hangers were evidently souvenirs.
The bread platter, an oval 9 1/4 by 13 inches, had a large Liberty Bell in the center with 1776 on one side, 1876 on the other, and the words "Declaration of Independence." The lower half of the wide border displayed the names of the signers of the Declaration of Independence; the upper half, in large letters, read "100 years ago."
Bread service plates or platters were a popular commemorative item. For the Centennial Exposition year, eagles, flags, and mottoes were popular motifs. Another popular style was the oval bread platter known as Centennial with Eagle, which had an eagle in the center and in the border the phrase "Give us this day Our Daily Bread."
Bread platters, of course, were part of many sets, particularly those produced during the 1870's and 1880's. Lion, Egyptian, Clear Ribbon, Jewel Band, and Paneled Forget-me-not were only a few. On commemorative platters, Washington, Garfield, Cleveland, and McKinley were favorite subjects, but more bread plates were designed to honor Ulysses S. Grant than any other president. Commemorative patterns were sometimes round instead of the oval usually favored for bread platters.
Because many glass firms outdid themselves to display new and unusual patterns and forms of pressed glass, people who visited the Centennial Exposition left with a keener appreciation of the versatility of pressed glass than they had ever had before. When the World's Columbian Exposition opened in Chicago in 1893, colored glass was the vogue. Pressed glass was not as highly regarded a century ago as it is today, and the Philadelphia and Chicago expositions helped to establish it. The years from 1876 to 1900 saw pressed glass produced in more patterns, variations, and colors than ever before. These same years also were those when the finest cut glass was being made in this country-cut glass that in quality and design was second to that of no other country. Cut glass was expensive even then, but pressed glass finally had become an accepted substitute.