BELLFLOWER RIBBED GLASS 1840s

This is the ever popular Bellflower pattern.  It was first made in the 1840s and is made of flint glass. The pattern was originally known as R. L. Pattern; aka Ribbed Bellflower, Ribbed Leaf.  A clear single or double vine of bellflowers and berries on a finely ribbed background or on a coarse ribbed background.  According to Ruth Webb Lee, one of early pioneers in glassware identification, this pattern was probably the first of the patterns to be made in a complete set of pieces for tableware use.

The original production included clear and other colors.  Colors included amber, cobalt blue, fiery opalescent, green, milk white, opaque blue, sapphire blue; however the colors are very RARE! The quality of the glass varies according to the manufacturer.  Most pieces were mold blown with a pontil mark on the bottom. Some of these were much cruder than the machine pressed pieces.  The pattern was produced by many manufacturers over the years.

McKee Catalogs, 1864 and 1868, illustrates the pattern and include a price list. McKee & Brothers, Pittsburgh PA, produced the largest variety of table forms.   Jenks and Luna believe the pattern was produced by Boston Sandwich first and by McKee Brothers later.

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When asked to name the top ten best selling patterns ever made, the Bellflower pattern was included in the list.  The pattern was first produced prior to 1840.  It features a rib design with a swirled lo featuring a leaf and flower design.  The glass was made using flint and has a bell tone ring when the piece is tapped lightly.

Because of the variations of the pattern on the feet of the pieces it is clear to see there were numerous makers. The foot can be domed, flat, patterned, clear. Other variations include variation in the finials, stems, ornaments.  Some stems may be knobbed while others may be plain.

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Egg Cup – Flat Base Ribs not to End on Foot

 

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Goblet Wide Rib Single Vine Domed Foot

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Single Vine Narrow Rib Straight Stem on Collar with Ribs Stopping Before Edge of Base

The basic pattern has two variations:  (1) Single vine with narrow rib; Double vine with wide rib.  The compote (open pedestal bowl) in the photo features the single vine with the narrow rib design.

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Double Vine Wide Rib Rayed Foot Rays to Edge Butter Milk Goblet or Open Sugar

The goblet in this photo is an example of the wide rib with double vine pattern.  There are very many variations related to the design on the foot.  Some pieces have ribs that stop short of the edge of the foot.  This particular goblet is known as a “buttermilk goblet.” Actually, it is an open sugar bowl.  If you are not a fan of buttermilk (a southern tradition) these goblets make excellent dessert bowls!

This pattern was made in a wide variety of forms and is a great pattern to collect because of the variety of items available in the pattern.  The first reproduction was a tumbler in 1938.  It was made from a new mold and has a greenish cast unlike the original pieces.  The manufacturer remains unknown.  In 1970, the MMA authorized Imperial Glass Co. to produce certain items in lead crystal from new molds; these are embossed with “MMA”).  In 1979 the Smithsonian issued its own version of the Bellflower Single Vine Fine Rib tumbler from a new mold in clear noflint glass.  The Smithsonia pieces are marked SI.

Be forewarned — this is not an inexpensive set to collect since it made of flint glass which had largely disappeared after the discovery of the soda lime formula used in making glass around 1864.  The formula was discovered by William Leighton, a pioneer in glass making improvements and procedures.  A formula to replace the flint glass formula was necessary to help reduce production costs since making flint glass was a costly procedure and flint became very scarce during the Civil War. The flint used in glass making was needed for use in manufacturing war goods.

Many of the pieces available today are still in very good condition considering the age of the pieces; however, it not unusual to find tiny dings in the ribs. Sometimes there will be a piece with a popped bubble on the base or even along the rim.  When buying old glass be aware that even good or excellent condition does not mean perfect or new.

SOURCES:  Jenks and Luna, EAPG 1850-1910, p. 60-63; Lee, Early American Pressed Glass, Pattern 35, p. 66, 63, 92-9, 106, 112-13, 173, 302, 381, 456, Plates 30, 31, 31A, 32, 33, 34, 35, Classification 94; Jenks, Luna, and Reilly, Identifying Pattern Glass Reproductions, p. 30-32.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Adams & Co., A Glassware Pioneer

Adams and Co. operated between 1861-1891. The company made both flint and non-flint glass. It produced blown and pressed tableware. Adams produced jelly glasses, tumblers, goblets tableware, lamps and lamp chimneys.

Adams and Company made many popular patterns which were originally believed to be the product of Boston & Sandwich Co. Among these are: Wildflower, Palace (Moon & Star), Daisy and Button with Thumbprint, as well as many others.

Odd Fellows Water Gobleet 1885

Odd Fellows Water Gobleet 1885

The Odd Fellow pattern on this goblet is a scarce pattern. The pattern is stippled, in relief, and set against a clear background. The water goblet is 6 inches tall by 3.25 inches across. The goblet is made of non-flint glass and was introduced ca. 1885 by Adams and Co., one of the early glass houses of the EAPG era. The goblet is bell-shaped. The pattern is very ornate with its focal point being a shield with 3 interlocking rings. There are scrolls of leaves and flowers, and fleur-de-lis accenting the shield. The goblet bowl is divided into 4 panels with each panel having the shield design with accompanying accents. There is a .25 in. clear band around the rim of the goblet. Below this band is a band of tiny thumbprints with light stippling between each. Another band below this band is a narrow band of small loops and darts. The shield pattern is below these bands. Each panel is separated by a clear thin line. The shield pattern is separated from the bottom of the goblet by a narrow belt with with a buckle design. The belt is accented by tiny notches above and below the band. There is a tiny band of clear glass above a 1 inch vertical band of scalloped flutes where the goblet narrows to very small clear center.

The stem is very ornate. It has tiny flutes with a knob about half way down the stem. There is a band of tiny beads with stippling between each bead above and below larger circles. Below the knob (round) there is a short stem with tiny flutes which extend to the bottom of the stem which flares to larger flutes. The foot is round and flat and is clear except for the small fluted area. DoRi Miles, EAPG ID site, indicates the mold for the goblet is the same as the one for the Horseshoe Knob-Stem goblet used for the Horseshoe pattern. The lodge emblem fills the horseshoe space. This indicates Adams and Co. as the probable manufacturer for the pattern, according to Ms. Miles.

The Wildflower pattern is another interesting pattern by Adams & Co.

Golden Amber Wildflower Celery

Golden Amber Wildflower Celery

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Enlargement of Wildflower Pattern showing fine stippling

The Wildflower pattern was Adams No. 140.  It was a popular pattern of the floral group. Wildflowr was first issued around 1874 in an extended table service.  This was non-flint glass. It was made in a variety of colors including: amber (light and dark), apple reen,m, clear, and canary yelllow.  The pattern features a six-petaled flower, leaves, berries and a single stem.  The elements are finely stippled and pressed in high relief.  I have shown a close up of the pattern so you can see the stippling clearly.

Unfortunately, the pattern has been reproduced, beginning as early as 1936. Crystal Art Glass, Mosser Glass, and L. G. Wright were among the companies reproducing the pattern.  Many reproductions were made from new molds; however, L. G. Wright, a glassware distributor used the original molds for most of the items produced.  New molds ere used for the compote and the stick candy jar.

For the most part reproductions are poorly stippled and this makes them easier to detect as reproductions. Also, be aware that the pattern was produced in many colors which was not originaly produced:  amethyst, ruby, vaseline opalescent.

The company also made some interesting novelties: a “Shoe Brush” match safe, a covered dish, “Tomato,” a salt dish ” Wheel Barrow, and a “Garfield” commemorative mug. These items were produced between 1880 and 1885. A four-legged turtle on a boat shaped dish which came in a variety colors is a rarity.

John Adams, its founder, was widely respected in the glass making industry. The company exported products to South America, Cuba, and the West Indies. In 1861 Adams & Company was among the largest glass factories in the Pittsburgh area. Adams exhibited its products at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. The company reorganized in 1883 when James Dalzell (another well-known glass man) retired from the firm. Adams & Co. expanded in 1884. In1891 became Factory A as a part of U.S. Glass and the company’s identity was lost.

SOURCES: Hawkins, Glasshouses & Glass Manufacturers of the Pittsburgh Region, p.4; EAPG Identification Site, DoRi, Miles; Metz 1 Early American Pattern Glass (Goblets); Revi, American Pressed Glass & Figure Bottles, p. 15-22; Jenks, Luna, and Reilly, Identifying Pattern Glass Reproductions, p.320-322.

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Wait! Can you tell whether that is really cut glass?

This is a reminder to myself that may help you or someone else when shopping online for glassware.  I have been selling glassware and collectibles on line for the last 12 years.  I consider myself knowledgeable when it comes to patterns, makers, and whether the glass is pressed or cut.  My problem is I know quite a bit about pressed glass but am not very familiar with cut glass.  When I recently decided to add some cut glass to my online store, I made mistakes many novices make.

First rule: If you like it, buy it but make sure you are not paying too much. Do some research.  Check other sites for similar or the same pattern you are wanting to buy.  You don’t have to spend days doing this.  Just a few quick checks of other sites may help you save $$ so you will have more to spend on something else.  Easier said than done sometimes but most of the time it works.  Although I studied various cut glass patterns I apparently needed more information before starting on this journey.

Second rule:  Don’t take the seller’s word for truth just because the description says a piece is cut glass.  It is entirely possible that the seller knows far less than you about what type of glass is being sold.  Most of the time this is because of a lack of research.  In addition, imitation cut glass can be very convincing in its appearance.

Most of the early Americans in the EAPG era could not afford real cut glass.  The glass manufacturers set about making imitation cut glass that offered a sparkling brilliance in many of the same patterns as the cut glass.  Case in point:  Daisy Button was an imitation of the Russian cut pattern.

Patterns made in cut glass and pressed glass were centered around geometric designs – circles, squares, ovals, diamonds, bars, fans.  You would think that cut glass would be very easy to distinguish from pressed glass.  Trust me, it is not always the case.

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Cut Glass Olive Tray

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Pressed Glass Relish Tray

As you can see, both of these pieces have some of the same geometric designs.  Both were described as cut glass.  Fortunately, neither one was very expensive or I would have really been mad at myself.  And, of course, if I had tried to research the patterns, I would have found neither.

Next I will be working on information about glassware of the American Brilliant Period.

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 Belmont Glass Company Pattern 100 – Daisy & Button

Belmont Glass Works was one of the first glass companies established in Bellaire, OH. It operated between 1866-1890. Belmont had its own foundry and made its own molds as early as 1870. In addition, Belmont chipped molds for other companies including McKee, Crystal Glass Company, Central Glass Company, Elson Glass Company, Gillinder Brothers, and Fostoria Glass. (Revi, American Pressed Glass and Figure Bottles, p. 69-71.) Harvey Leighton was the manager for Belmont in 1884.

Belmont began its operations as a chimney factory but soon began producing pressed ware for the kitchen and bars as well as lamps. In 1885 Belmont introduced colored glass. (Welker, p. 32). In July, 1890 the stockholders decided to liquidate the business since it losing money. The Belmont molds were sold to Crystal Glass Co., Bridgeport OH and Central Glass Co. By 1893 the factory was torn down to build a new factory Novelty Stamping Co.

Belmont made a number of patterns, but probably its most famous is Pattern 100, Daisy & Button. This is probably the most ornate Daisy & Button pattern made by any of the pattern makers. Belmont made the pattern in colors including Canary yellow, known as vaseline glass.

Belmont Pattern 100 Daisy & Button Covered Compote

Belmont Pattern 100 Daisy & Button
Covered Compote

 

Belmont Pattern 100 Shows different sections

Belmont Pattern 100
Shows different sections

Top Section, base to stem and stem skirt added separately

Top Section, base to stem and stem skirt added separately

The covered compote is particularly interesting. Not only is it extremely ornate, you can see how the piece was made in several pieces at different times. At the time this piece was made pressed glass manufacturing had not progressed to the point that such an ornate compote (bottom) could be made at one time. If you look closely at the photos, you can see where the rim was added to the top of the compote. Farther down on the bowl you can see where the bottom of the bowl piece was added to the pedestal. This was done by fusing (heating) wafers of glass to add the pedestal. Then, when looking at the scalloped base, you can see a line where the scalloped base was added to the pedestal. Making the piece was quite an ordeal. Just think about the work that went into chipping the design in the mold. The mold was most likely iron. Molds could take more than a month to make and could cost in the thousands of dollars.

The lid to this piece is interesting as well. The pattern is on the inside of the lid rather than on the outside as the compote design is. The design is only on the top part of the lid which fits inside the bowl. The bottom of the lid is clear. The finial is knob is round and has a bar through it.

Lid design is on inside

Lid design is on inside

Finial was added separately

Finial was added separately

 

The glass is not perfectly clear because of its age. Glass often changed from clear to having a slight amethyst tint because of the chemicals used in the glass mixture. Manganese was used in the glass mixture to add clarity to the finished product. Unfortunately, as the glass aged the manganese also caused the glass to change color especially when exposed to direct sunlight. The tint in this piece is very slight.

 

A beautiful piece of antique glassware

A beautiful piece of antique glassware

See this piece at PAST WARES.

SOURCES: Revi, American Pressed Glass and Figure Bottles, p. 69-71; Welker, Pressed Glass in America Encyclopedia of the First Hundred Years 1825-1925, p. 32; Shotwell, Glass A TO Z, P. 37.

 

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Festoon Pattern Just one of Many

Festoon Water Set

Festoon Water Set

The Festoon Pattern is just one of many patterns with an unknown maker or with a disputed maker.  Some authorities say the pattern maker is unknown; others say Beatty-Brady (Indiana Glass) made the pattern; while others (two separate authors of books on Portland Glass) claim the pattern was made by Portland Glass Company, Portland ME pre-1873.

Portland Glass began production on November 11, 1863. Portland was a prolific producer of many patterns. At one point, Portland was producing 5 thousand pieces of glassware per day. It reached its peak of success in 1867. The plant was destroyed by fire in September 1867 and was again operating in the spring 1868. By 1870 Portland was forced to reorganized and became Portland Glass Works.

Unfortunately, competition with other companies more favorably located to resources and transportation was too much for Portland. In 1873 Portland was forced to close. Its major assets were its molds and these were used to satisfy its debt. As a result, it is reasonable to conceive that Beatty-Brady Glass may have acquired the molds at some point and may have produced the pattern. Between 1873 and the time Beatty-Brady was credited with producing the pattern (1890s), the molds could have changed hands a number of times and there may be more unknown makers.

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The Glassware Combines

There was a lot of unrest in the glassware industry in the 1890s-early 1900s.  Competition was extreme; companies copied or stole patterns from others; and pricing issues were forcing some of the smaller companies to face destruction.  All of this was amid the fires, floods, wage and labor issues and other problems common to the glass industry.  To make bad matters worse, the consumer tastes were shifting from the ornate, heavy imitation cut glass patterns toward the lighter weight glassware and to colored glassware.

In an effort to save the industry, two large combines were formed where glass companies banded together to work on the pricing issues. Price control was the primary purpose.  U.S. Glass Company was formed in 1891.  Twenty companies joined this group.  They were spread across Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  Managing the group created chaos.  Companies joining U.S. Glass included:

  • Factory A – Adams & Co
  • Factory B – Bryce Brothers
  • Factory C – Challinor Taylor & Co.
  • Factory D – George Duncan & Sons
  • Factory E  – Richards & Hartley
  • Factory F – Ripley Glass
  • Factory G – Gillinder
  • Factory H – Hobbs Glass Co.
  • Factory J – Columbia Glass
  • Factory K – King Glass
  • Factory L – O’Hara Glass
  • Factory M – Bellaire Goblet Co.
  • Factory N – Nickel Plate Glass
  • Factory O – Central Glass
  • Factory P – Doyle & Co.
  • Factory R – A. J. Beatty & Sons (Tiffin OH)
  • Factory S – A.J. Beatty & Sons (Steubenville OH)
  • Factory T – Novelty Glass Company
  • Factory U – Gas City, IN
  • FactoryGP-Glassport

Companies which were part of the U.S. Glass Company fared somewhat better than those in the National Group.  However, many of the companies were closed, others were destroyed by fire and were never reopened and labor issues forced others to close.  Many of the companies managed to survive until the 1930s but did not survive the Depression of the 1930s. Only Factory R, Tiffin, survived.  In 1948 U.S. Glass transferred operations to Tiffin but still maintained the U.S. Glass name.  U.S. Glass survived until 1962.

National Glass Company was formed in Bellaire OH in 1899 and by 1908 the company was bankrupt and dissolved.  There were 18 companies which became a part of National Glass:

  1. Rochester Tumbler Company
  2. McKee & Brothers
  3. Northwood Company
  4. Greensburg Glass Company
  5. Model Flint Glass Company
  6. Keystone Tumbler Company
  7. Dalzell, Gilmore & Leighton
  8. Crystal Glass Company
  9. West Virginia Glass Company
  10. Cumberland Glass
  11. Fairmont Glass Company
  12. Central Glass Company
  13. Royal Glass Company
  14. Robinson Glass Company
  15. Indiana Tumbler & Goblet Company
  16. Canton Glass Company
  17. Beatty-Brady Glass Company
  18. Riverside Glassworks

National began closing facilities immediately.  By 1903 only 10 companies remained in the group.  National was reorganized and built 3 new facilities:  Cambridge Glass; Lancaster; and Jeannette Glass.  By 1904, the remaining facilities were leased to others.  National ceased to exist by 1908.  Cambridge Glass, Lancaster, and Jeannette Glass survived.

SOURCES:  Heacock & Bickenheuser, U.S. Glass A-Z; Shotwell, Glass A-Z, p. 372-373 “National Glass Company,”

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American Pressed Glass: Early, Middle, Late Periods

Before 1820, American made glass was blown glass which was costly to produce because the labor intensive manufacturing process.  American manufacturers were  unable to compete with foreign imports that flooded the market.  Mechanically pressed glass was born out of the necessity to compete with the imports.  The glass industry as a whole began experimenting with new processes to produce glass more economically.  Imagination and ingenuty by the pioneers in glass making led to lower production costs and less intensive labor to produce glassware which could be available for the masses.

By 1832 pressed tableware was being manufactured for domestic and foreign distribution.  Thus the Early period of pressed glass began.  The first efforts produced elaborate ornate, and heavily stippled patterns known as Lacy glass.  The stippling and the ornate patterns often hid the imperfections in the glass.  By the 1850s,  because of the high cost of the mold making for the elaborete patterns manufacturers began producing simpler designs.  Patterns such as Bellflower (estimated to have been prduced as early as the 1840s) , Horn of Plenty and Ribbed Grape were introduced.  This was known as the Middle period of pressed glass.

IMG_7992This is a Bellflower Goblet featuring wide ribs and a single vine.  The goblet is made of flint glass.  The pattern was made in a large number of forms and is considered to be on of the first patterns offering an extended number of table ware pieces.  The pattern was made in Clear, Amber, Cobalt Blue, Firey Opalescent, Green, Milk White, Opaque Blue.  (Finding the pattern in colors is very rare today.)

By the 1860s the glass industry was fluorishing.  The industry was revolutionized by technological improvements in manufacturing, and the use of natural gas rather than coal in the manufacturing process.  William Leighton, Sr. (Hobbs, Brockunier & Co., Wheeling W.Va),  revolutionized the glass industry when he created a new glass formula, soda lime (simply known as lime glass), which replaced soda ash with bicarbonate of soda in the lead glass formula.  The glass was far more economical to produce, was much lighter, and had clarity similar to lead glass.  By 1865 lime glass dominated the glass industry.  Companies refusing to use lime glass rather than the expensive lead glass soon faded away because they could not compete.

The late period of pressed glass began around 1870 and continued during the following years. Rainbows of colors, frosted and  satin-glass, chocolate glass, ruby stained glass, and extended table services became the norm.  Some pattern lines had as many as 60 different forms.  But by the 1890s the party was over for many glass companies.

My next blog entry will focus on the problems facing the companies in the 1890s.

SOURCE:  Jenks & Luna, Early American Pattern Glass 1850-1910, 602 pgs.

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