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.

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