Sunday, February 25, 2018

Eight remarkable Steuben stems made during the Frederick Carder era (1903-1932.) most probably in the late 1920s into the early '30s. All but one have large air-trap stem components

Pair of #8351 Amethyst cut-to-clear 9.875" water goblets. These sold for $2,200 a few years ago

Left; a 9.875" water goblet #8351 with copper wheel engraving; and right, an unknown stem shape, about 10' high

The first of three #6505 stems, this one is the "Crescent #2" 8.5" water goblet. Recent auction prices for #6505 stems have been around $300 to $400

This #6505 pattern isn't identified but in a similar color as the one above, also featured on this blog's header, 8.5" water goblet

And the "Harvard" pattern in green, 8.5" water goblet

Elegant #6596 water goblet with polished and unpolished engraving

Beautiful 10" #6567 water goblet with partial color cut-to-clear feature

Highly sought after pattern, "Poussin" with dramatic black mirror glass cut-to-clear Art Deco style 6.125" cocktail glass which sold in 2012 for $900

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Here's another extremely popular Pairpoint pattern, "Wickham". A vast number of piece types were made in this pattern. Circa 1937, these were among the opulent and dramatic patterns of the era known for their grand scale sizes.

Luxurious 12" covered comports in the sought after"Wickham" pattern by Pairpoint

Hand cut and engraved 9.5" water goblet

6.5" tall coupe champagnes

Polished and unpoilshed engraving gives contrast and texture to the 8.5" dessert plates

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Second post: Who Were the Luxury Glassmakers Between the World Wars?

8.25" water goblet
The Cataract Company in Buffalo NY, founded and run by Alfred Sharpe, was a glass decorating company––they cut, engraved and even etched blank stemware services. They were primarily a good quality mid-range company, but occasionally vered into the realm of luxury.

The water goblet above and following pictures are their 1010-2 stemware pieces. These were featured in a table scene in a 1941 movie, which suggests that they were designed in 1939 or 1940.

What makes them unusual are the cut & polished seven sided stems––which flare into a massive lapidary collar. The blanks are probably from Libbey.

Low Goblet


Iced Tea

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What Piece Type is This Stemware Anyway?

From left to right: Water Goblet 7 3/4"; Claret 7"; White Wine 6 3/4"; Coupe Champagne 6 3/4"; Cocktail 6 1/4"; Cordial 5 7/8"; Sherry 5 7/8"

Here is a group of Hawkes' #6015 shape stemware illustrating the standard shapes and sizes available in a pattern. Most American stemware between, and briefly after the two World Wars conformed to this distribution.

Not perfectly to scale in this assembled picture, but you can see very clearly, for example, that the claret––that is, red wine--is a smaller version of the goblet, the white wine is shorter and narrower than the claret, the champagne's bowl is visibly wider than the cocktail's, the cordial is little larger than a "thumble", and the sherry, always the top contender for most confused, has––with few exceptions––a V-shaped bowl. These shapes were standardized in the late 19th Century (the cocktail being the last to appear) and used into the 1960s.

Today however, few people have any desire or use for any but the water goblets for wine, and maybe one of the smaller pieces for a cordial. 99% of the time online sellers will identify the claret, white wine, cocktail, cordial and sherry as cordials, the champagne as a wine (which of course champagne is, but who would ever say to a guest, "Here's a glass of wine" when they were serving them champagne?) And the water goblets are often called "wines". 

Today of course, simple, undecorated and oversized stemware is the standard, distinguished by the type of wine that will be served in it. Times have changed, foods and libations are nothing like they were even 75 years ago, thus serving them has changed as well. Can you imagine a dinner in 1930 with a guest of today trying to swirl wine around in a claret glass? Um hmm, and then wearing it for the rest of the night!

Many of us collect the old stemware, most to display as objets d'art. Personally, I get great pleasure using my huge water goblets for wine. Later I will show barware and other pieces from the same stem shape. Stay tuned and see the difference between an Oyster Cocktail, an Iced Tea, and between a Highball and an Old Fashioned, or Rocks glass!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Another Fabulous Libbey Nash Pattern, "Symphony"

                          Libbey Nash, Symphony c 1932, 8.75" Water Goblet

This pattern of Libbey Nash design, called Symphony, was made in some quantity, though still quite rare. The Libbey Nash catalog stated: "Since this line is strictly custom-built, the section just above the foot may be had in jade green, lapis blue, ruby or transparent turquoise." The engraving on the trumpet shaped bowl is ebullient, as if reaching a celebratory crescendo. The "ruby" color varies slightly on each piece.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Magnificent Pairpoint "Guilford" Pattern

Pairpoint Guilford Engraved 15" Crystal Vases with Onyx, Gilded and Silverplated Metal Mounts, c 1925

Pairpoint Guilford Engraved 11.5" x 7.5" Compote with Gilt Metal and Rock Crystal Style Mounts, c 1925

Guilford was one of Pairpoint's premium glass patterns and was made in many different piece types.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Moderne Style Libbey 'Modern American' "Monticello" #5700

                                 Libbey "Monticello" Water Goblet 8.75" 1940

Much like the work being done at Steuben just before WWII Libbey embraced the simple elegance of its Modern American line. The Monticello pattern features a fluted columnar stem, a plain flared bowl, and plain foot. The glass quality was becoming more important than the decoration; crystal-clear had a new meaning. All the plastic arts were examining medium as an expression of its own. Figurative painting gave way to fields of color, exploring the tones and brush strokes rather than the content.

The great artistry of the copper wheel engravers was over, it was simply too expensive to produce. Tragically, once the most simple designs in art and glass had been excuted, the off-shoots were often redundant to the point of tautological ennui. How many white on white paintings can you look at and feel anything but duped? Post-war crystal stemware is the same––I actually saw someone advertising Baccarat "Epicure" as "spectacular". Seriously, spectacular? It couldn't be more pedestrian and plain. It could be anything, made by anyone. There's simply nothing "spectacular" about it other than its name and Baccarat's brilliant marketing strategies.

Libbey, like a few other glass companies, survived WWII by stopping its tableware production and manufacturing light bulbs during the war. They proudly advertised that "No Libbey crystal has been blown since Pearl Harbor."

Monticello was designed along with the great "Embassy" #4900 line––which was introduced at the NY World's Fair in 1939––as one final attempt, after 1932's relatively unsuccessful 80 Libbey-Nash lines, to revive their prestige crystal production. Unfortunately cut short by the war, the Modern American line was never made again after the war, so its pieces are relatively rare.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Extraordinary Hawkes Copper Wheel Engraving and Something Else.....

Maginficent circa 1920s Goblets, presumed to be Hawkes, but could also be Sinclaire. One dealer suggested they were from NY State Governor Roswell Pettibone's crystal service, but he died in 1894 and I don't believe there was anything like these made during his lifetime. They are not trademarked, which would be bizarre for Hawkes or Sinclaire given the quality of the workmanship. I also have sherries in the same pattern, devoid of trademarks as well. So the manufacturer is a mystery.

The other feature that is equally puzzling is the treatment of the base and the stem and the lower part of the bowl. At first glance they also appear to be engraved. But when you feel the surface of these areas, they are raised, suggesting etching, or even more unusual, possibly having been part of the mold itself. It may also be that the engraver cut away in the "negative". In any event it represents some of the greatest ingenuity and talent, and worthy of every moment of awe they get.

There are some closeups of different parts of the goblets. Notice the incredibly fine cutting in the large flowers, and the tiniest scales above the upturned "leaves" in the base of the bowl.

Added 1-20-15:

These were confirmed as Hawkes in a series of sales. See the green wine stems below––most were marked Hawkes. Mystery solved!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Steuben #6126 Goblets vs. Webb Goblets

                                    Webb Water Goblet, c 1930 10" high

After extensive research and consulting with half a dozen glass collectors and sellers I can unequivocally state that the 10" goblet pictured here is NOT Steuben #6126, which was designed during the Carder years. Most of the collectors I consulted were Steuben collectors, not stemware collectors.

An advanced stemware collector knows that the shapes of the bowl, stem, and base of a goblet have set parameters which are rigidly adhered to; if a piece is similar, but far from exact, it's probably another stem number from the same manufacturer, or as in this case, a different manufacturer with a similar shape.

Here's the Steuben #6126 water goblet, also 10", also with a twisted stem, also with a domed foot. But look at the width of the stem, the Steuben is much thinner and has more twists, the domed foot also has a fold-over rim characteristic of most of Carder Steuben's best stemware. See how much narrower the bottom of the Steuben bowl is where it connects to the stem. And, a researcher at Replacements confirmed that they had the Webb shape and that they were trademarked. Clearly this and the design disparities prove that the top piece is not Steuben, but Webb.


 And here they are side by side: Mystery partially solved; now to find out who made theirs first!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Another Fabulous Hawkes #6015 Stemware Pattern––Donisel I and II

                                 Hawkes #6015 Donisel I Iced Tea Glass c. 1925 6"

                              Hawkes #6015 Donisel II Water Goblet c. 1925 7.75"

                                   Hawkes #6015 Donisel II Champagne c.1925 6.5"

      Suite of Hawkes #6015 Donisel II c. 1925 Finger Bowl, Water Goblet, Champagne
                            Hawkes #6015 Donisel II Finger Bowl c. 1925 5.25"

A simple straight forward pattern, the Donisel and Donisel II differ by the mitered rings framing the strawberry diamond bands, which gives the pattern a more complete look. Steuben blanks. These are substantial pieces of glass with the goblets weighing in at over a pound each.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Spectacular Copper Wheel Engraving Covers William LeBrantz's Goblet Designed for Hawkes in the 1920s

Copper Wheel Engraved 7.75" Water Goblet. William LeBrantz for Hawkes c. 1925

                          Second Face of LeBrantz Goblet Shows Cartouche

                                     Superb Petal-form Engraved Base

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Is it Etched, Cut, or Engraved? One of the Greatest Misunderstandings in Glass

Here is an example of "cut and engraved" glass. Hawkes Gravic Fruit #6015 Goblet c. 1925

One of the most misunderstood aspects of glass is the difference between etched, cut, and engraved decoration. Simply, etching is a process using acid to essentially bubble up the surface of the glass to make a pattern on it. The two main types are plate etching and needle etching. In either case, it's easy to tell whether something is etched or cut with a wheel; the etched piece has its surface decoration in relief, the wheel cut designs are cut into the glass making them concave.

Acid has also been used by high-end companies such as Dorflinger to create "deep etching" which looks more like wheel-cut work. But the massive majority of etched glass was made for the everyman, and meant to look like the far more skill intensive and frankly expensive and beautiful engraved luxury glass.

When you look closely at the surface of a glass, if the lines are uneven, watery and bumpy, you've probably got etched. Sadly, because so few people seem to know the difference, a good 80% of what is identified as "etched" on eBay, for example, is actually wheel cut. Below are two examples of etched glass. The first one was even incorrectly identified as needle etch when it is actually plate etched. The second one is needle etch and is one of the etching styles that wasn't trying to imitate engraving. It was inexpensive, but at least it was original.

Notice how imprecise the etched pattern is compared with the engraved Hawkes piece above. Also compare it to the Libbey "Cathay" goblet in my first post. That was done with the most intensive master skill, copper wheel engraving.

In a later post I will describe the various wheel cutting processes and how differently they manifest on the glass.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Two Mid-Range Glass Makers' Best Attempts at Luxury

Bryce Brothers were known for everyday glassware that was just a little better than pedestrian. This stem shape, the #625, is arguably their most complex and refined. And while the stem is molded, it is also cut and polished giving it a better feeling of quality. One of the top manifestations of Hawkes, Steuben, and Seneca was the attention to detail––you will rarely find a mold mark on their works. This Bryce goblet has a hard to see, but clearly visible mold line on the wafers in the stem.

                              Bryce Brothers Water Goblet, 7", pattern #625-2  c.1935

With a similar shape, this goblet by Duncan Miller takes the refinement a step further. Like others, they incorporated the mold lines into the pattern. They are absolutely invisible on this superior piece. One senses that they are along the points in the flute cut collars surrounding the central lapidary knob in the stem. This goblet is more substantial than the Bryce with better heft and balance. The blanks may be Heisey.

     Duncan & Miller Water Goblet, "Stratford" stem #504 cut #689, 7.375" c. 1940