There is something magical and fascinating about antique glass – the everyday pieces that have survived by pure good fortune and one-of-a-kind art pieces that have been treated with TLC through the years. In spite of beautiful weather on April 17-18, a stream of patrons was coming in and out of the Old Greenwich Civic Center, and the ones coming out were carrying bundles that had been carefully wrapped in newspaper and other packing. Inside, the 28th annual Collectors Glass Show and Sale was going full swing. Hosted by the Westchester Glass Club, and managed by Douglas Reed, there were two large rooms, a front foyer, and a wide connecting hallway filled with many types of glass.
The multitude of variations possible in glass makes it a lifelong study for many of the 60 dealers at the show. Some specialize in Victorian pattern and art glass. Others are most interested in early American blown and mold-blown glass. Pressed “Lacy” glass and American brilliant-cut glass could be found too. Some specialize in glass from the Depression era or even contemporary. A few dealers specialize in makers such as Steuben, Dorflinger, Locke or Sandwich. Others look for the form, whether it is bottles and flasks, salts, marbles, paperweights, stemware, jewelry or lamps.
Dena K. Tarshis, co-presi-dent of the Westchester Glass Club and also an author and lecturer, said, “This show is the best thing for glass; it is strictly for collectors. It is presented for the love of glass by people who really know their glass. There is no need for vetting – that is one of the strong points of the show.” (The other co-president of the club is Pamela Levine).
Certainly Joan Kaiser of Barlow-Kaiser Publishing Co, Sandwich, Mass., is on top of her game. Rather than selling glass, she trades on her expertise. She presented a boothfull of books she has written on Sandwich glass. Prices ranged from $80 to $125 for various hardcover titles, while soft cover editions could be purchased for $25 to $40. The Sandwich Glass Price Guide was in its fifth edition and was only $15.
Elissa Goldstein of Elvid Antiques in New Jersey brought marbles, paperweights, sugar shakers and salt and pepper shakers. She explained that salt and pepper shakers were “never sold as pairs. True pairs are unusual.” She brought a biscuit jar made by Mount Washington Glass (New Bedford, Mass.) in the 1880s or 90s. It had white opaque glass colored yellow-to-peach on the outside with a hand enameled foliate design in gold. The manufacturer was seeking to emulate the popular and expensive Burmese glass, which was colored throughout (rather than just having a colored outer coating). Goldstein had a classic lily vase in Burmese glass, also yellow-to-peach from bottom to top.
“Today’s rarities,” she noted, “are yesterday’s commercial failures. Some lines were too expensive to produce or were not marketed properly.”
Philip Liverant, Philip Liverant Antiques, Colchester, Conn., brought some beautiful pieces of Sandwich glass: clam broth candlesticks, canary dolphin candlesticks and a whale oil lamp on a marble base with a very unusual aquamarine colored glass fuel reservoir. The lamp had star and punty (a metal rod used for fashioning hot glass) decorated glass. Liverant does not remember ever seeing a lamp with the delicate aquamarine color before. Also, for the uninitiated, clam broth refers to the translucent grayish-white tinged glass that is reminiscent of clam broth and has an iridescent sheen. Canary refers to the early yellow flint glass created with uranium oxide as an ingredient.
Knute Peterson was excited about his ten-inch Fenton (Williamstown, W.V.) mosaic vase, circa 1922. “It’s very modern looking and similar to Czech glass,” said Peterson. The vase a bright red-orange over all, with iridescent greens forming a globular mosaic pattern over the red and a totally green top and throat to the vase. This American art glass company is still in operation today. Peterson also brought an assortment of decorated Quezal, Tiffany and Loetz vases as well.
Ken Lyon and his wife Sylvia of Applebee & Lyon, Fishers Hill, Va., were having a good time at the show. Their booth was full of interesting finds. They brought a circa 1885 Mount Washington Victorian bridal basket with a silver base and handle and a cameo glass insert in peachy-pink with a griffin design. Sylvia said that this type of cameo glass “wasn’t made very long. It wasn’t popular.”
Donna Alman, Indianapolis, Ind., had a variety of early Nineteenth Century lamps and candlesticks, cup plates, salts and Lacy flint glass tableware. She brought fiery opalescent tie-backs, circa 1900-1910 and a selection of glass pulls. Alman also brought a Thomas Cains kerosene lamp, 1865, that had a square opalescent glass base. It had the internal ridge that is a mark of Cains’s glasswork. She also had a camphene lamp (a highly explosive fuel derived from turpentine) that had longer wick feeders than would be found on a whale oil lamp.
Betsey Hewlett, Brewster, Mass., brought an extensive selection of pattern glass in a variety of forms – stemware, pitchers, serving dishes, lamps, vases, decanters, etageres and more. A charming find at her booth was the child’s lemonade set that had a glass tray, diminutive pitcher and four tiny glasses. Visions of entertaining could easily fill the imagination, as guests could revel in the different patterns of their stemware with mixed, rather than matched, table settings.
In between helping customers, Hewlett commented, “People who come to this show know glass and are interested in glass and are here to buy.” Some of the pattern glass customers purchased from several dealers – spreading their patronage throughout the show. There were about ten or 12 dealers of pattern glass participating.
This show was full of excellent glass and provided a relaxed environment for new collectors to learn from amenable experts, and for experienced collectors to add to their collections.