Monday, April 8, 2013

WHO WERE AMERICA'S LUXURY GLASS MAKERS BETWEEN THE WORLD WARS?

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"



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