Published: June 11, 2019
Review and Photos by Greg Smith
SOUTHBURY, CONN. – The Westchester Glass Club tried something new this year in presenting its annual Collectors Show and Sale May 25 at the Heritage Hotel within the Heritage Village complex, a sprawling 3,500-resident-strong retirement community in the top left corner of New Haven County. Seventeen dealers were on hand to present their expertise in a range of areas within the genre, which ranged from brilliant-cut; depression; carnival; art glass Victorian; contemporary studio; and early American blown, pressed, cut and more.
This year’s show was an intimate exhibition. Years past had seen the event sprawled around the large open floor of the Greenwich Civic Center in Old Greenwich, Conn., while this year’s event moved its way into a conference room at the hotel, exchanging an open and airy feeling for a tight-knit, table-top buffet that was engaging and fast-paced.
“We needed to do something,” Alan Adams, co-president and co-show manager said. “The last two years, the gate has been down. And if the show isn’t somewhat crowded, people don’t tend to buy.”
Certainly moving into a smaller venue helped with the optics. And the target demographic in a retirement community aligns with the show’s attendees in the past. “Young people just aren’t buying,” Adams remarked. Devoted glass collectors and showgoers who had attended the event in any of its past 40-plus iterations – it has been going since 1976 – would seek the show out and move with it, the idea was.
The show recorded a 30 percent increase in the gate this year. “A step in the right direction,” Adams said.
New York dealer Rob Korn exhibited a colorful display of Victorian art glass from the 1880s through 1910. “The latest I will do is the carnival glass,” Korn said. “The color just blows me away. It was amazing, in 1883, to get that color.” He featured a number of tumblers in varying colors, including white, blue, Vaseline, cranberry and green.
Jim Dwire of Two J’s has a specialty in Fenton glass, which accounted for about 60 percent of the dealer’s booth. Among the examples was a Centennial mosaic vase, circa 2005, designed by the house master craftsman David Fetty. Fetty retired in 1998 after having been with the company since 1965, though he continues to contribute designs to Fenton.
Tony Stringfellow of Fly Over States Antiques, Indiana, reported a solid show, saying he anticipates next year’s show as well. Stringfellow said, “general thoughts around the room is that it simply needs to get bigger over the years.” The dealer featured an Indiana slipware jar from potter Beryl Griffith. Stringfellow said he probably has 90 pieces by him. The jar was unique for its many handprints on top of the glaze. “It’s the only one I’ve seen like it in my life,” the dealer said. The Griffith pottery is still operating and now goes under the name Clay City Pottery.
Cape Cod, Mass., dealer Betsy Hewlett Lessig brought her selection of New England pattern glass. When asked what was notable, she pointed to an amusing owl and pussy cat cheese dish with a pictorial story that wraps around the dish and tells of a rather daring cat that winds up in the mouth of an owl.
Stephen Pescatore of Chelmsford, Mass., featured a nice array of Moser glass. One of them, a pitcher, featured a flower pattern inside of gold latticework. Pescatore also featured a salamander bowl by the same maker. In cut glass, the dealer featured some Pairpoint examples, including a pair of candlesticks and a handled bowl, all in the “Waterford” pattern.
Club vice president Bruce Mitchell exhibited a blown, cut and engraved carafe, probably by New York company T.G. Hawkes, circa 1890. The carafe was made for William Newton, who was the owner of the Newton Foundry Co, in New Haven, Conn. The dealer also featured an eight-flute syrup bottle with Britannia nozzle in a rare uranium color. The bottle was blown-molded and probably by the Pittsburgh company M’Kee & Bros, circa 1850-70.
Philip Cortina, Bridgeport, Conn., was exhibiting one of the largest known sealed whiskey bottles. The brown bottle was from New York, 16 inches tall, circa 1840-50. The dealer said only two or three are known. Cortina also featured a mid-sized Sandwich onion lamp in opalescent blue and a number of striped bells, both English and American.
“The show went better than I expected,” Cortina said. The dealer related that he made some sales but no large ticket items. “The people who came to the show who were looking to buy something – fortunately, I had a couple things they were looking for,” he said.
Kirk Nelson was again representing The New Bedford Museum of Glass. The executive director explained that the museum is currently packed up into boxes as it transitions into its new exhibition home at the James Arnold Mansion in New Bedford, Mass. James Arnold had left the mansion in 1869 to his nephew, James Rotch, who founded the Mount Washington Glass Company. “The Westchester Glass Club is a big supporter of the museum, and this gives us a chance to get out of New Bedford and into the glass collecting community,” Nelson said.
Adams plans on bringing the show back to Heritage Village in 2020 – though, he hopes, to a larger room.
For further information, www.westchesterglassclub.com or 203-394-8956.
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