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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Antique Glass And Glass Treasures - Part 2

[Glass Treasures - Part 1]  [Glass Treasures - Part 2]  [Glass Treasures - Part 3] 

( Originally Published 1963 )



Glass stoppers were blown, blownmolded, and pressed as well as cut. It was not unusual for a pressed glass decanter or cologne or perfume bottle to have a cut glass stopper. If the stopper was pressed glass, it sometimes repeated a motif from the pattern of the bottle. A rectangular Daisy and Button cologne bottle, for example, had a square stopper also pressed in Daisy and Button pattern. Etched decoration was used on stoppers to match the decoration of decanters and fancy bottles. Occasionally, an interesting hand-blown stopper was made, perhaps resembling an open flower.

Stoppers are another thing not to discard. A miscellaneous group of them always finds a buyer at an auction, and they are sometimes sold individually or in small numbers in antique and second-hand shops. Don't be discouraged if you find a decanter or cruet without its stopper; sooner or later you'll be able to run down an appropriate one that will fit the neck and at no great expense. A decanter that lacks a stopper is salable, although at a reduced price.

Wine pitchers have gone out of fashion, but they were a conceit during Victorian days. These pitchers were tall in proportion to their diameter and usually were elaborately decorated. Some are known to have been made of colored glass, but the majority probably were clear glass. Many etched ones were produced by the New England Glass Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and some were cut by various firms. In any pattern, the cut glass wine pitcher was in addition to a shorter water pitcher. Claret jugs were as tall as quart decanters but usually more graceful; they had plain handles.

Still on the subject of drinking, some types of glasses that were in wide and general use are no longer made. One of these is the flip glass. Flip, incidentally, was a sweetened and spiced hot drink in which ale, beer, or cider was the chief ingredient. It was drunk either from a mug made of glass or other material or from a flip glass. The mug, basically, was a tumbler with a handle and was made in various capacities. The term "flip glass" is perhaps a collector's way of describing a tumbler usually a pint or more in capacity, and such a glass undoubtedly was used for other drinks. Probably because flip was a hot drink, the glasses sometimes had covers with a knob or a finial. Hand-blown flip glasses with delicate engraving were made by Ame-lung in Maryland, and with engraving or a painted decoration of flowers and garlands by Stiegel in Pennsylvania. Flip continued to be popular into the nineteenth century, but it was drunk from plainer glasses then.

Rummers were large, tall goblets with short stems. The smallest size held only four ounces, but others were ten to twelve inches or more in height. The bases were round or square, the bowls variously shaped. Rummers were either hand-blown or blownmolded and often were decorated, particularly with etching.

Syllabub, that frothy mixture of wine or cider and milk which turns into soft curds, was served in cups or glasses of various styles. Some were slender footed glasses, others cups with straight or rounded sides. The cups always had handles. Many were plain but probably just as many had cut, engraved, or etched decoration. Syllabub glasses were made in quantity until about 1860, or possibly a little later. Probably blown-three-mold as well as free-blown techniques were used.

The wineglasses of 100 to 150 years ago, like those of today, can be classed as stemware. The lines or shape of the stem and its decoration have changed from one period to another during the last 250 years. The shape of the bowl generally varied according to the type of wine to be served in the glass. Thus, champagne glasses were broad and saucerlike, the width equal to or greater than its depth. The bowls of glasses for other types of wine were narrower than their depth, and certain specific shapes were intended for specific wines, such as sherry, claret, port, hock (white Rhine wine), and Madeira. Wineglasses were made with a capacity of two to three ounces. Cordial glasses held only one ounce in comparatively small bowls on long or short stems. The cocktail glass did not appear until late in the nineteenth century.

The various kinds of wineglasses were made of hand-blown and blownmolded glass, plain or with etched or painted decoration. These are rare finds nowadays. However, all kinds of wineglasses were made in pressed and cut glass patterns and these are quite plentiful, although it might be difficult to get together a matching set of a dozen or even a half-dozen.

A great variety of tumblers to be used for water and whisky were made of all types of glass. Larger cut glass tumblers holding five ounces or more were meant for champagne or mineral water in late-Victorian days. Cut highball glasses also appeared before 1900.

Tumblers for water and whisky also were made in patterned pressed glass. Comparatively few commemorative tumblers were made, but there were some historical ones in water and whisky sizes. Some were linked to the Civil War, more of them to the Spanish-American War (one of these proclaimed "Remember the Maine" under crossed flags held by an eagle), and there was a Yankee Doodle design too.

Cologne, scent, and perfume bottles, and little ones for smelling salts are something else again. Bottles for these several purposes had always been made to some small extent, but the introduction of art glass about 1876 brought with it a fashion of fancy bottles. Not that bottles of these types were made only of art glass. Probably more of them were pressed and cut glass. Colored opaque glass also was popular.

Cologne bottles, the largest in this group, usually were made and sold in pairs. However, one cologne bottle, especially if it is in good condition, is a worthwhile find. Colognes were made in a variety of odd shapes as well as square, globular, and barrel-like. In pressed glass, Trilby pattern (a heart motif) cologne was a round bottle with a heart-shaped stopper. Cologne bottles in the Bellflower pattern were made in both clear and opaque glass, with a space for a label. These are probably as rare as the bottles in the frosted pressed glass pattern, Lion, with cut glass stoppers. Colored pressed glass included a good yellow bottle in Star and Punty pattern, again with a cut glass stopper. Sometimes cologne bottles were so labeled.

Cut glass cologne bottles were made in quantity after 1875 in various patterns -in fact, in even greater quantity than pressed glass ones. Some were cut quite simply, many were elaborate. Shapes and heights varied greatly, but these bottles are always heavy.

Perfume bottles were not only smaller than cologne bottles but often were prettier and daintier. Scent and smelling salts bottles were smallest of all, for they were meant to be carried in the purse. These attractive bottles ran the gamut of glass techniques and decoration. The double perfume bottle, or gemel, was made in hand-blown and cut glass, clear and colored.

More important than perfume and cologne bottles were cup plates. They were indispensable in every self-respecting household from about 1800 into the 1850's-the period when it was fashionable to drink from the deep saucer and set the cup to one side on a small cup plate. The first cup plates in this country were made of china, and some of the old blue china tableware had cups with two saucers or a saucer and a cup plate. After 1825, as pressed glass became known, cup plates were made almost solely of this. Like bottles, cup plates too were manufactured in endless variety, and like historical flasks, they related history in miniature.

Pressed glass cup plates were 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter (a china cup plate could be 4 inches in diameter). The majority were round with plain edges or with daintily or deeply scalloped ones. A few were octagonal. The rim, approximately 3/4 inch wide, sloped up from the flat, level center. Both rim and center were decorated. Many cup plate patterns were made in one or more colors as well as clear glass.

The Boston and Sandwich Glass Company led the way in the production of pressed glass cup plates. It was not long, however, before nearly every glasshouse in the country was producing them. Many cup plates were lacy glass with the all-over stippled background that gave so much sparkle to the pattern. By no means all of these were made by the Boston and Sandwich Company. Firms from the East Coast into the Midwest made them too.

The Thirteen Hearts, for instance, was a Sandwich pattern. Thirteen hearts filled in with stippling circled the rim; the center displayed one of several geometric designs against a stippled background. Other glasshouses had heart patterns showing single and double hearts, hearts pierced with arrows, and borders in which hearts alternated with flowers or the like. Such cup plates often were exchanged as Valentine gifts.

Another Sandwich pattern was Butterfly and Flower, made in deep blue and clear glass. The butterfly against a stippled background filled the center; the rim was garlanded with sprigs of blossoms and leaves and edged with a tiny scallop. Other floral patterns, not necessarily Sandwich, were based on the rose, pansy, narcissus, and butterfly. There were several grape patterns. Pattern glass designs that included cup plates were Roman Rosette, Waffle, Oak Leaf, Wheat and Rosette, and Peacock Feather.

Historical cup plates bore the eagle and stars as well as other patriotic emblems. Several were designed around the career of General William H. Harrison and his campaign for president: one displayed his portrait, several showed log cabins, and another featured a beehive, which was a motif related to Harrison. The cup plate with Fort Meigs in the center commemorated his defeat of the Indians at Tippecanoe.

There were cup plates to commemorate Bunker Hill, Fort Pitt (twentyfour stars and a peacock border), and various ships, among them the frigate Constitution and the steamboat Robert Fulton. Henry Clay, Lafayette, George Washington, and several other generals and heroes also provided inspiration for cup plate designs.

Their size makes cup plates unmistakable. Because they are small as well as interesting and can be displayed in limited space, collecting cup plates has become an intense hobby. There undoubtedly are still nineteenth-century examples to be found. The trouble is that some of the better-known patterns have been reproduced within the last thirty years. The tests suggested for differentiating between antique and current pressed glass apply to cup plates too. In the reproduction of the popular Thirteen Hearts pattern, the hearts are spaced farther apart, and the plate as a whole appears shiny and new-looking when compared with an old one. Excellent as is the color of the blue reproduction of Butterfly and Flower made in the 1930's, the flower sprigs around the border are not identical with those of the nineteenth-century cup plates in this pattern.

End-of-the-day glass is a term that covers a miscellaneous group of objects that were the result of glassworkers' thrifty habit of using up leftover odds and ends of glass at the end of the day. Glassworks managers evidently did not frown on this practice. Probably some of the end-of-the-day pieces were made on the workers' own time anyhow. In the offhand blowing of clear and colored glass and in cut glass, too, free rein was given to the imagination. Miniatures, novelties, and whimsies arc the main classifications.

End-of-the-day work is believed to account for the first tentative steps toward making paperweights in this country. After 1850, paperweights were made in some quantity and several distinctive styles. Again the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company was a leader. Other important contributions were made by C. Dorflinger and Sons in White Mills, Pennsylvania; Gillinder and Sons, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; several firms in Pittsburgh; Pairpoint Corporation, New Bedford, Massachusetts; and Millville Glass Works, Millville, New Jersey.

The first paperweights were cubes or ovals of clear or one-color glass. Simple cut glass paperweights also were made. Later, geometric blocks were decorated with enameling. From about 1850 on, paperweights in this country were modeled on styles originated in Europe, but several American types nevertheless achieved their own special beauty. Although various metals, stone, and other materials were used, the most fascinating paperweights are those made of glass.

Three styles of paperweights-the Sandwich Crown, Poinsettia, and various fruit ones-were extremely well made by the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company. The Crown was a dome of clear glass with twists of colored glass radiating through it from a central colored rosette. The flowers and fruits in many paperweights were fully modeled and then encased in clear glass. In the Poinsettia, the red flower with its green leaves was set against a background of strips of white glass (called latticin o). This is perhaps the most famous, although Sandwich used several other flowers such as the rose, dahlia, pansy, morning glory, nasturtium, and clover. The third type, featuring fruit, consisted of individual apples, pears, plums, or the like, or a group of smaller fruits such as strawberries or small pears. Still another sort for which the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company became famous was made up of a fully modeled fruit such as a Gravenstein apple, or a pear, beautifully colored and fused to a round base of clear glass. These look luscious enough to eat.

Not as enchanting as flower and fruit weights, but probably more plentiful and still to be found, are the clear glass ovals or rounds in which a spider, snake, turtle, or something of the sort was embedded.

As famous as the finest of Sandwich paperweights are those called Millville Rose, made at Millville Glass Works in New Jersey. In these, a fully modeled flower nestled against green leaves; its petals were shaded in red, rose, green, or yellow (white roses also were made). The flower was encased in a ball of clear glass, which was supported by a matching footed base.

Probably all of the glass factories that made paperweights turned out some of what are called millefiori, a word derived from the Italian for "a thousand flowers." This is a style of colored decoration perfected by the Venetians and copied in other European countries, notably France, England, and after 1850 in this country.

Any one piece decorated with millefiori shows literally a thousand fascinating shapes and colors. A true millefiori was made from glass rods of various colors arranged so that their ends made a design; such as a bouquet of flowers with green leaves or a single blossom with petals, stamens, and pistil in appropriate colors. The rods were fused by heat and then drawn out to any desired length. As they were extended, the design remained the same but was reduced in size. Finally, the rods were sliced through. The same arrangement of rods produced a different design effect according to the way it was sliced -that is, either straight across or at any of various angles. This is one reason for the diversity of millefiori. Another reason is that the convex surface of clear glass covering the millefiori in paperweights magnified the design. A millefiori appears different as it is viewed from different angles.



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