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( Originally Published 1963 )
Other popular paperweights displayed cameo portraits of famous persons, coins, less realistic flowers, and combinations of latticinio and millefiori. Bits of colored glass rather haphazardly arranged made "candy" paperweights. The 1890's also saw America making the monument-shaped weight, which consisted of a slender pyramid or obelisk of glass on a pedestal. This style was first made in France. Paperweights with symbols of holidays and sentimental designs for Valentine and birthday gifts were popular in the late nineteenth century too.
A number of different objects were combined sometimes with paperweights. When the choice was an inkwell, candlestick, or penholder, the union can be a little baffling today. Some paperweights were combined with or shaped like a glass hat.
Victorian styles of paperweights continue to be made to this day except for the flower and fruit ones, which no one evidently has quite dared to attempt. A paperweight can be a century old and still have a perfectly smooth surface, for scars and nicks can be ground or polished away. One test for determining whether a millefiori paperweight is 100 or a mere 10 years old is to pick it up and heft it. Antique ones are much heavier in proportion to their size than newer ones. Look at the paperweight from all angles, too, to see how perfectly the design was made.
Paperweights were only one application of the fascinating millefiori. It was used also to make beautiful inkstands, letter seals, doorknobs, and buttons, as well as attractive perfume bottles, vases, and sweetmeat jars. Sometimes a simple bottle was dressed up with a millefiori stopper. It was even considered pretty enough for jewelry, specifically brooches and earrings.
Colorful as paperweights were, a person was limited in the number he could find a place for. There were apparently no such bounds for the equally colorful miscellany of end-ofthe-day pieces. Some of these pieces were practical, others were nonsensical, and all of them catered to the Victorian love of bric-a-brac. Whatever fancy the glassworker followed at the end of the day, his novelty, whimsey, or miniature usually was colored glass, and often varicolored or mottled.
One novelty believed to have been an end-of-the-day piece was the glass rolling pin. Certainly it was too pretty to be put to practical use and, consequently, was hung on the wall or placed on the whatnot. Whether a rolling pin was clear or colored glass, it was likely to have painted decoration. Some rolling pins were varicolored, some were striped: End-of-theday work also contributed canes in clear, colored, or opaque glass with colored stripes, which were hung on the wall with ribbon. Doorstops and darners, fully as colorful as rolling pins and canes, were more practical-if the owner could bear to use them.
One object whose use is still something of a question is the round glass ball called a witch ball. These balls were made in Caspar Wistar's glasshouse in the late 1700's and in many other places well into the 1800's. Some people say they were made as covers for milk dishes or to be placed in the mouths of pitchers. Witch balls were made from the size of a marble, which could have covered the mouth of a creamer, to as much as a foot in diameter for bowls. If there was a hole in the bottom of the ball, it could be placed on the end of a stick and set on a windowsill to keep witches away, or hung from the rafters for the same purpose. These balls were blown in both clear and colored glass. A few were varicolored or striped.
Many of the pitchers and bowls in the South Jersey style, carried on after Wistar's place shut down, are believed to be end-of-the-day pieces. So also were the miniature pitchers, mugs, washbowls, and goblets that were made as toys for children. Real toys kept on the shelves of whatnots were amusing-and fearsome-blown glass animals:
A vast array of slippers, boots, shoes, and hats also were end-of-the-day pieces. Some few of them, particularly slippers or shoes, ended up as perfume bottles or shakers; others held matches or toothpicks, and many were used purely as ornaments. Boots could be drinking glasses or jiggers. However, miniature slippers, high-buttoned shoes, and crumpled boots were not made only as end-of-the-day, free-blown glass. They became so popular that they were made for the trade. Many were blown-molded and thousands were done in pressed glass. The Daisy and Button pattern was probably used most frequently, but other patterns to look for are Sunburst, Diamond, and Cane. Lady's slippers in various heel heights, lady's high-buttoned shoes, baby shoes, and men's boots-probably every style worn by every agewere reproduced in glass. Even shoes and slippers on skates were not uncommon.
Pressed glass slippers probably were the most plentiful a century ago and hence the most likely still to be found. Both pressed and hand-blown slippers and shoes were made in clear and colors. Milk-white glass, Bristol, spatter, and marble were a few of the various kinds of art glass in which slippers were made. Frosted glass slippers decorated with cutting are attractive, if any can be found, but they are more rare than slippers with applied glass and painted decoration.
Glass hats were blown, blown-molded, blown-three-mold, and pressed. Many more hats than slippers were engraved or cut. They were made in as wide an array of plain, art, opalescent, and opaque glass, and decorated in as many ways, as slippers and shoes. Some had silver hatbands or over-all decoration of silver deposit.
Top hats were made in greatest variety, but there were also the soft-crown and wide-brimmed types, as well as such popular shapes as caps, sailors or boaters, and derbies. A Quaker hat, a bandmaster's cap, and a fireman's helmet were among the more specific Styles represented. The three-cornered hat or tricorne and the peaked hat are rarities, if they are to be found at all now. Ladies' bonnets were not overlooked, although they were not made in such quantity as the various men's styles.
Glass hats were almost as useful as they were decorative. The top hats were made in four sizes. The smallest size was an individual salt dish. The second size, about 3 inches tall, was a toothpick- or match-holder; it makes an excellent container for cigarettes today. The third size, between 4 and 6 inches tall, was a spoonholder, and the largest, 6 inches or more high, was used to hold celery at the table. The 3-inch size-or reproductions of itare most likely to be found today.
Among the pressed glass patterns in which glass hats were made-mostly the 3-inch hats-were Thousand Eye, Raindrop, and Cube, in addition to the ubiquitous Daisy and Button. The latter was made in clear and various solid colors, and sometimes the buttons were decorated in color. In fact, hats seem to have been made in more colors than any other piece of glass. Two shades of yellow, light and dark amber, apple-green, emerald, and olivegreen, light and deep blue, amethyst, cranberry, and russet are shades to watch for.
For twenty years or so, every glass factory produced hats. Striped and threaded glass ones from the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company were notable, as were colored blown glass hats from South Jersey and pressed glass ones from the area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So it was with slippers and shoes. Gillinder and Sons in Philadelphia turned out fine ones of frosted glass; the United States Glass Company in Pittsburgh was one of the firms that made slippers with attached skates. Of course the duality of the glass varied.
Most of the hats, shoes, and slippers were made for retail sale. A small percentage were imprinted as souvenirs or with advertising, the latter being given away. Many reproductions have been and are being made in this century, both in the United States and Europe, but their quality is not as good as that of the best nineteenthcentury novelties and the colors are seldom identical.
In addition to the great quantities of hats and slippers, a good many other novelties were made between 1870 and 1900-and found customers waiting for them. Most plentiful were matchholders and toothpick-holders, the majority of which were pressed glass, either clear or colored. These were made in fanciful shapes, as well as more conventional ones such as an umbrella, kettle, basket, cornucopia, and hand.
It's hard to tell now whether a small glass novelty was meant to hold toothpicks or wooden matches, for there is little if any difference in size. The pressed glass wall pockets to be hung up were definitely intended for matches. Kitten on a Cushion is one famous match-holder. The kitten, lying on its back on a cushion, held with its paws and tail a cup in Daisy and Button pattern.
Animals often were the basis of a match-holder. Several holders featured a dog, others an elephant, frog, alligator, pig, dolphin, or rooster. One showed a rabbit standing on his hind legs.
Toothpick-holders in the shapes of small vases were made in cut glass to match the most popular patterns. Small pitchers, mustard pots, and salts were made in both art glass and pressed glass in novelty shapes. One example had a sitting bird holding a mustard pot on its back between its wings. Another mustard jar was a cow's head, and there was a creamer shaped like an owl.
Whimsies and many miniatures were end-of-the-day pieces, but numerous other miniatures and curiously shaped pieces were part of the day's work in glasshouses. Stores often gave away glass novelties as premiums. However, they could be sold too, for a real appetite for them was fostered by the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.
The demand continued until about 1890 and a limited number were still made for a few years thereafter.
Two things that particularly attract collectors are miniature and small pitchers and various kinds of salt dishes. They're easy to display, sparkling and colorful, and they require little space. Many made during the nineteenth century are still around. Individual salts sell for as little as twenty-five cents and as much as several dollars. The price depends on the rarity, the quality of the glass, the way they were made, and the decoration.
Since salt always has been an important commodity and condiment, it is not surprising that containers in a wide range of styles, sizes, and materials have been made for centuries. Table containers for salt were of three types: the standing salt (more than 5 inches high, usually made of silver), shakers, and salt dishes (also known as salt dips or saltcellars). Shakers in pairs for salt and pepper began to be included in pressed glass patterns after 1875 (Paneled Daisy, Double Loop, Shell and Tassel, and many others). They also were part of cut glass sets in patterns of the Brilliant Period as well as in plain diamond cuts and faceting. Pairs of shakers also were made in satin glass, Peachblow, and other art glass.
The larger salt dishes, 3 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter, also called salt dips, were used singly, in pairs, or at each place on the table. They sometimes had covers but more often were open dishes. These are generally found in pressed glass patterns. Individual salts or saltcellars, footed or flat, are 11/2 to 13/4 inches in diameter.
Salts have been made from the days of the Stiegel glasshouse to the present in every known technique. Colored, clear, opaque, and opalescent salts were turned out in vast quantity during the nineteenth century. The Boston and Sandwich Glass Company made many interesting colored glass ones. Those of clear pressed glass are probably most likely to be found nowadays, although many cut glass salts must be in hiding.
Salt dips and saltcellars were round, square, rectangular, or oval in shape. In pressed glass, the frosted Lion pattern had large oval salt dips. Crown and jewel had a rectangular one, Loop and jewel a footed one with handles, Harp a round and footed one. Salts were made constantly to match patterns, from the early Petal and Loop with its round, footed dish to the late Daisy and Button. Salt and pepper shakers as well as individual salts in various shapes, including a triangle, a boat, and a canoe, could all be purchased in Daisy and Button.
Many novelty salt dishes of pressed glass were popular, too, and these were likely to be colored glass. Boats and boots, hats and birds, were common. A greater find would be a wheelbarrow salt with long handles, or a covered salt shaped like a turtle. Birds were particular favorites. A small pressed glass duck with careful details of feathers and bill had a cavity in the back 21/2 inches long and 7/8 inch deep for salt. Swans in colored, clear, or opaque glass were made in different poses. A famous pressed glass salt showed a sitting bird holding a cherry or seed in its upturned beak.
Simple round or square saltcellars of pressed glass were made through the early 1900's-some with diamondpoint sides, or perhaps only crosshatching on the base of square ones, or a plain star on the base of round ones. These are bought and sold inexpensively now, for they are plentiful. Remember that they are just as useful as they ever were and a nice remembrance of earlier days.
Other niceties for the house were made in lesser quantity, for they were not as widely used as cup plates or as appealing as novelties. Bells were made in cut, engraved, and art glass, but not in pressed glass. Inkstands were likely to be decorative glass and fairly elaborate, although some were made of blown and some of cut glass. Glass jewel boxes and smaller trinket boxes were produced in various sizes and shapes. The cut glass ones are probably easiest to find now, but some were engraved glass, either clear or colored, and sonic were art glass. Painted glass jewel boxes were usually lined, especially if the glass was opaque, as it often was.
A household was much more likely to sport some of the several kinds of glass knobs. These were made in many designs and sizes, and in colors as well as clear, opaque, and opal glass, and were pressed, cut, or molded. Knobs for furniture were made in greatest quantity throughout the long Victorian era. Knobs and rosettes for supporting mirrors and pictures and holding back curtains were made from the 1830's to the 1850's-and reproduced in the 1930's.
The glass disks of curtain tiebacks were made in three diameters: 2 inches, 2 1/2 inches, and 3 inches. These decorative supports had to be fastened permanently into the window frame. The glass disk, which was made with a hole in the center, slipped onto the end of a 3-inch metal rod and was held in place by a small knob that screwed onto the end of the rod. The rods were pewter, brass, or iron.
The famous Petal and Shell curtain tieback made by the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company had opalescent petals and clear glass shells of pressed glass. Like tiebacks in other patterns, it was made in colored glass also. Milkwhite glass was another choice. A few tiebacks were made in cut glass during the 1880's and 1890's, long after pressed glass ones had been discontinued.
Doorknobs were made off and on, never in any great quantity at any one time, as were curtain tiebacks. Cut glass doorknobs were a fad between 1880 and 1910, mostly in plain lapidary cuttings, but some displayed a monogram. A few were made of silver or mercury glass and possibly other art glass.
It is as easy to ignore the doorknobs on the first floor of an old house as it is the bottles in the cellar. However, nothing is too small to be a possible antique. If a doorknob or curtain tiebacks are not appropriate for use in your own home, someone will be interested in buying them. A pair of mercury glass tiebacks are worth about $8, a pair of opalescent Petal and Shell ones considerably more.
Many people are avid collectors of all kinds of glass tumblers and salts, small pitchers, paperweights, hats, slippers and shoes, and match- and toothpickholders. Bottles also fascinate a good many collectors. Some specialize in patent medicine bottles, though cologne and perfume bottles and historical flasks probably have the greatest appeal. Occasionally, a noncollector will find an old pitcher or salt irresistible. Once you are certain that any particular glass item was actually made during the nineteenth century, you can sell it for a reasonable price.
Few bitters bottles, even those made in the late 1800's, sell for less than $3. A bottle in the shape of a log cabin that held Plantation bitters should bring at least $5 and perhaps a little more. So should a Tippecanoe or Travellers bitters bottle. An Indian Queen bitters bottle, particularly if it is dated 1868, is worth all of $20.
A cathedral bottle that held pickles is priced fairly at $5. The Moses bottle that held Poland water is worth about $15, if it is in good condition and was made during the 1800's (this form has been reproduced widely). A demijohn sells for $10 to $15, with the scarcer, smaller ones higher-priced than the large ones; carboys, old or new, are always expensive.
Flasks bring premium prices, probably because collectors are so keen about them. A basket of flowers on one side and a cornucopia of fruit on the other were common decoration, but if the color is a good green, you may find someone who will pay $35. A violin flask has been sold recently for $65 and is a rare-enough shape to be worth a minimum of $50 anywhere, however poor the market. Flasks with an eagle predominant range from $20 to more than $100, depending on the other motifs and the rarity. A Jenny Lind flask is worth $5 to $15, depending on its color and the factory that made it.
A clear glass apothecary bottle sells for about $3 if it is 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 inches high, for $5 to $7 if it is 11 or 12 inches high. A barber bottle in amethyst glass is worth at least $20, a little more if it has enamel decoration. A blown-glass one in a good shade of blue should bring $25, a plain amber one perhaps $15.
An early hand-blown decanter with triple rings around its neck and a mushroom stopper has a market price of about $25 at the present time. A cut glass decanter made before 1900, and in perfect condition, is worth not less than $20 regardless of its pattern. Some patterns can be appraised as high as $35. Since a decanter appeals to more people than many other pieces of cut glass, it usually is possible to sell one for a price close to its actual value. A pressed glass decanter in the early pattern Waffle and Thumbprint can be sold for $18.50, in Sawtooth with its original stopper for about $35.
Cruets with stoppers bring almost as good prices, even for a single one. Pairs for vinegar and oil are less commonly found. A small cut glass cruet, 6 inches or a little higher, is reasonable at $15, and a 9-inch-high cruet should bring $20. A pressed glass one in clear Peacock Feather sells for about $7.50, a blue in Inverted Thumbprint with clear glass handle and stopper for $25.
There is an extraordinarily wide range of prices for paperweights. Small ones, about Z inches in diameter, that display a random pattern of colored glass sell for $Z or $3 at country auctions. Cut glass paperweights with a simple faceting sell for modest prices tooperhaps $5 or a little more. Slightly larger colored glass ones with delicate enamel decoration on the outside are worth at least $10. The glass domes that enclose flowers, fruits, millefiori, candy, and the like average 3 inches or a little more in diameter. Not size but workmanship makes them expensive now. Old millefiori, fruit, or flower paperweights bring high prices - perhaps $100 or more-and even higher ones (to $250) if they are known to have been made by the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company or Gillinder and Sons.
Small things sell for worthwhile prices. A cut glass knife rest, 5 inches long and with the ends cut simply, probably will bring $5; a longer and more elaborately cut one, $7.50 or more. Toothpick-holders in typical late-nineteenthcentury glass sell for $5 to $10, with an occasional rare one bringing $20 or more. A blue pressed glass hat, about 3 inches high, in Cube pattern sells nowadays for $6.50, a blue Daisy and Button with V Ornament for about the same price; a Daisy and Button hat in canary yellow should bring a little more - perhaps $8 or $9. An opaque white shoe about Z inches high is worth $5 or $6. A slipper bottle, probably for perfume, is certainly worth $5. Open slippers and shoes that served as toothpick-, match-, or pin-holders range from $3 to about $10. Certain styles and certain patterns and colors in pressed glass or art glass bring the higher price. In the case of both hats and slippers, it is important to be sure that they were made in the nineteenth century.
Salt dishes vary greatly in price too. The small individual saltcellars made around 1900 may bring no more than $2.50 or $3 for a matching set of six or eight. A pair of cut glass shakers with glass caps should be worth $10 to $15 depending on the pattern. Individual cut glass salts, footed or flat, may be worth $2.50 each but probably will have to be sold for less-perhaps $10 for a half-dozen that match. Pressed glass salt dishes range from $Z to about $10 each, depending on the pattern and the color. Patterns that are not greatly in demand sell for the lowest prices (Banded Buckle for perhaps $3, Barberry for $5; both salts are footed). The footed salt dish from the early Waffle pattern probably can be sold for $%.50 or more, and the round, footed Harp salt for as much as $9 in an urban area, perhaps only $5 in the country. The salt in a popular fruit pattern such as Strawberry can be sold for $5 to $7.50 depending on where you live. The highest prices can be asked for the salt dishes made in fancy shapes such as a sleigh, crown, lyre, etc., of clear or colored lacy glassthat is, if you can authenticate one as having been made between 1825 and 1850.
A good many cup plates, even those of lacy glass, were bought for less than a dollar each-in fact, only a quarter or a tenth of that-in the 1830's. Now their prices start in dollars. Any that you find should be taken to someone who knows something about either pressed glass or cup plates for authentication and pricing. There are so many collectors that cup plates, like bottles, are no problem to sell.