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

Sunday, June 23, 2013


During the 1920s Hawkes introduced a line of glass in honor of founder Thomas Hawkes' life in Waterford, Ireland. Most of the designs were available on several stem shapes and in each pattern there were often auxiliary pieces such as vases and cocktail shakers and pitchers.

Here are a few of the Vernay Waterford pieces showing a variety of shapes and piece types and how the pattern changes to accommodate the piece.

                          Hawkes "Vernay" Goblet on their #6015 stem 7.75" c.1925

                    Hawkes "Vernay" Champagne/ Martini on their #7072 stem

          Hawkes "Vernay" cocktail pitcher with sterling mount and spade stirrer 8.5"

                  Hawkes "Vernay" Vase with old trefoil trademark, sterling mount 8.5"

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Pairpoint Norfolk Design

Here are three piece types with the same engraved pattern. The goblets are a different stem shape from the champagnes, but the sweet pea vase goes with both.
Goblets are 8.25", champagnes are 4.875", vase is 8". Each piece is "best metal" glass, very heavy and rings like a bell.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Seneca USA vs. St Louis France

                                          Seneca Water Goblet, 5.875"

St Louis, France, Water Goblet 6.125"

Here is an exmple of an American luxury glass manufacturer copying a much older French pattern. The original St Louis stems were .25" taller, the only real way to distinguish them. Both share the same high quality workmanship. In this instance, the St Louis piece has the addition of red casing, cut to clear. 

In this second example, Seneca has copied St Louis' Trianon pattern, which was introduced circa 1834. Again, the Seneca is .25" shorter than the original St Louis version. Visually they are indistiguishable.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pre WWII Modernist Style; Steuben #7924

Here's an example of a great American glass company moving from fine engraved stemware to simple, clean modernist lines. Steuben's George Thompson designed these striking goblets in 1940. At first glance one might think, "How boring, they are the "Emperor's New Clothes" and while they are simple they are also very substantial, the glass is near flawless, and the most amazing thing, they feel like silk on your lips.

                                    Steuben #7924 Water Goblet 8.375"

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Another Exceptional Cut & Engraved Masterpiece From Seneca Glass

           The magnificent Sanssouci pattern, Goblet 8.25" (21cm) Stem #4816

                                                       Another view

                                   Sanssouci Champagne 6.875" (17.5cm)

The Sanssouci pattern is very fine engraving and precise mitre cutting. Circa 1930, it has, as many of Seneca's top patterns do, cutting to the edges of both base and lip rims. The engraving has been polished by hand in parts and left unpolished or "gray" in others. In over 20 years collecting glass, these are the only examples I've ever seen.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


There will be many upcoming posts regarding identification of piece types, uses, manufacturers and patterns.

Here's one that most online people don't get right; the Hawkes piece below is a French Dressing Bottle, not an oil and vinegar cruet as it is usually called.

Hawkes engraved French Dressing Bottle 7.5" Patented 1916 with matched neck and stopper numbers

Saturday, April 13, 2013

HAWKES #6015 VS. TIFFIN #17431

One of the most confused pattern identifications is between Hawkes #6015 and Tiffin's #17431. Both have bucket-form bowls, both have square bases, both have a jewel knob in the stem.

But look carefully; Tiffin's stem is square, Hawkes' is hexagonal. Tiffin's jewel is just above the base, Hawkes' is mid-stem.

Hawkes never made a stem like Tiffin's, although the literature shows Tiffin, having acquired the molds and patterns of Hawkes after they closed, may have produced something like their 17431 and called it Hawkes.

                               Hawkes Vernay Goblet #6015 circa 1930 7.75"

                               Tiffin Pristine Goblet #17431 circ 1960  7.625"

Monday, April 8, 2013


While most advanced collectors of American luxury crystal know the names Steuben, Hawkes, Sinclaire, Libbey, and Pairpoint, very few look at some of the more mainstream companies' high end products. One of the most under-appreciated companies is Seneca of Morgantown, West Virginia. Before WWII, they had some master glassmakers and some very memorable designs.

Like Libbey however, to survive the post-war era, Seneca began making a lot of cheap, pretty horrible glass because tastes had changed, the world had changed, it was a time of dumbing down quality that spiraled unchecked. It was a time when the emperor's new clothes prevailed in many disciplines; art became a display of the components of art, architecture became simple boxes, and stemware, even the best, became very, very plain. I will discuss that further in a future post because while the changes were dramatic, they were not intrinsically bad.

I will show two of Seneca's most lavish stemware patterns today, but their work will factor into many posts to come. The second pattern has something exceptional––the glass is cut to the very edge of the lip and base rims, or appears to be; it's possible that parts of these were done in very fine molds. If not, the glass cutters were true masters––visualize a cutting-wheel spinning at 750rpm cutting the rim and not breaking it, it's almost unimaginable!

Like Libbey Nash, Seneca numbered all of their patterns, but unlike them, only named a few. Here are examples of those:

               Seneca Berkeley stem #4805, engraving #779, Water Goblets 8.375"

           Seneca Windsor stem #1934 engraving #777 Water Goblets 8.25"


While the Cathay pattern was extraordinary, dramatic and masterwork, the Lucerne stems are light-hearted, convivial and striking in their own simple way. The stem is molded to mimic art deco architecture. But the engraved bowls are all fire and champagne bubbles––evoking the great nightclubs, El Morocco, 21, The Rainbow Room, The Cotton Club––dancing and drinking till dawn.

Lucerne is very collectable and was produced in sufficient quantities that you can probably assemble a service today with some dedication. And they won't break the bank. In 1932 they didn't break the bank either, they retailed for $2.39, not the extravagant unrealized $100.00 per stem for the Cathays.

Still, Lucerne was not found just anywhere, it was and is still a luxury crystal. Given their shape and the changes we've made in our libation vessels, I use the water goblets as champagne flutes. The cocktail glasses, while I like to romanticize martinis with Nick and Nora Charles, are far too small for the mega martinis we enjoy today.

                                        Libbey Lucerne Water Goblet 7.375"

                                          Libbey Lucerne Cocktail Glass 5"

Sunday, April 7, 2013


A. Douglas Nash, chief designer at Tiffany, designed 80 patterns of luxury glass for Libbey in Toledo, OH in 1932. Some were stock items and can be found fairly easily today. Others were never produced in any quantity and are the Holy Grail of glass collectors everywhere.

I have been fortunate over the years to accumulate a few of the patterns, one in particular, Cathay, exemplifies the extraordinary master craftsmanship of the Libbey Nash line.

Rumor has it that the goblets were going to be retailed for $100.00 per stem in 1932 dollars. In the midst of the Great Depression, apparently upper management decided to pull the production after 12 dozen were made. Imagine paying $3,600 back then for a dozen three piece place settings! You could buy several regular cars for that amount.

Supposedly, they were never sold and were taken home by the managers. The dozen I purchased were from the estate of one of those managers. Other pieces in the pattern were made as well, champagnes and clarets have been seen over the years. The last time I saw any, there were 10 clarets and 10 champagnes and they sold for $10,000.00!

Cathay is described in the Libbey Nash catalog of 1932 as follows, "From a Far East mythical realm comes the inspiration for this goblet. Allegorical motifs––the dragon, the flame, the torch––are all suggested. The introduction of color into the stem, however, makes this piece definitely Chinese in spirit." That said, the motifs, done in copper wheel engraving, appear to be griffons, flowers and torches. They are so finely done, you can see the irises and teeth of the griffons! The color refers to special order pieces that changed the ball connector from clear, and could be had in red or blue. There are examples of these in the Toledo Art Museum, but they were most likely samples.

Here are a few pictures of these amazing pieces––they stand nearly 10" high and weigh over a pound each. Please click on the pictures to see them full size. Notice the domed fold-over foot, and there's even cutting on the hollow ball connector and the squat one above the base.