Glass Vases, Epidaurus

Glass Vases, Epidaurus


What Is Hoosier Glass?

Hoosier Glass is art glass made by Indiana-based Syndicate Sales, a glass-blowing company that was active in Kokomo, Indiana, in the 1970 and '80s. It should not be confused with the current Hoosier Glass Company, which specializes in building materials. Hoosier Glass is a collectible and is noted for its distinctive pressed and cut patterns in vases. Indiana has a long history of manufacturing art glass, and boasts the Indiana Art Glass Trail, a network of workshops and galleries showcasing local glass.


Treasures: Do these glass vases have a history?

These vases were passed down to me from my grandmother. I would like to know a little history about them so I can pass them on to my son. They are orange and black (or dark blue), and 9 inches tall. Any information would be appreciated.        

These vases were passed down to me from my grandmother. I would like to know a little history about them so I can pass them on to my son. They are orange and black (or dark blue), and 9 inches tall. Any information would be appreciated.         

We think this pair of vases is really attractive and interesting. Singles in this type of glass are much more commonly found, and this pair makes a nice statement with their strong colors and distinctive shapes.         

First, we should probably discuss the type of glass this is. In the past, many collectors have called this multicolored glassware "end-of-day" glass because of a myth that said that at the end of the work day, glassblowers took the various colors of glass they had worked with, mixed them up, and blew this multicolored glass from the resulting mixture.         

That is just ridiculous. If a glassblower mixed all the colors together, all he or she would get is a muddy molten mess -- not the streaked and spotted product in today's question. The more proper term for this sort of ware is "spatter glass," and although it first appeared in the 19th century, it is still widely made today.         

Early on, this glass was sometimes called "splash glass," but spatter is more accepted today. To make this type of glass, shards of different colored glass are spread over a table-like work surface called a "marver."          

The glass blower begins by blowing a bubble into the base glass and then rolls the hot mass over the marver. The shards stick to the molten glass in a random fashion, and at this point the whole mass is reheated in the glass furnace. The glass blower then expands the bubble and shapes it into the desired form.         

The shape of these particular vases is called "jack-in-the-pulpit," which is a reference to the arisaema triphyllum - also called "bog onion," "Indian turnip" or "brown dragon." In this plant, the leaves wrap around to form the funnel shaped "pulpit" with a kind of pointed protrusion at the back.          

In the center, there is a "spadix" that stands straight up and looks like a person -- this is the "jack" in the pulpit. This form of plant life was interpreted in glassware from the late 19th century through the current day, and there are enthusiasts who collect only jack-in-the-pulpit vases.         

P.O.B. should look very carefully at the bases of her items. There she might find the word "Czechoslovakia," which would identify this as the country of origin for this circa 1920 pair of vases.         

Czechoslovakia did not exist as a separate country until after World War I. In 1918, it was created largely from the part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire known as "Bohemia."

Bohemia -- and later Czechoslovakia -- has been a major center for glass production for centuries. Some of the finest glassware in the world was made there, but they also competed on the world market with relatively inexpensive wares -- such as this pair of spatter jack-in-the-pulpit vases.

For insurance replacement purposes, this pair should be valued in the $200 to $250 range.         


Contents

The meaning of crystal versus glass changes according to the country. The word "crystal" means, in most of the Western world, lead glass, containing lead oxide. In the European Union, the labeling of "crystal" products is regulated by Council Directive 69/493/EEC, which defines four categories, depending on the chemical composition and properties of the material. Only glass products containing at least 24% lead oxide may be referred to as "lead crystal". Products with less lead oxide, or glass products with other metal oxides used in place of lead oxide, must be labeled "crystallin" or "crystal glass". [3] In the United States it is the opposite - glass is defined as "crystal" if it contains only 1% lead. Although in the EU, in the Czech Republic, the term "crystal" is commonly used for any exquisite, high quality glass.

The presence of lead in crystal softens the glass and makes it more accessible for cutting and engraving. Lead increases the weight of the glass and causes the glass to diffract light. Glass can contain up to 40% lead, if maximum hardness is desired. On the other hand, crystal can contain less than 24% lead if it has a high proportion of barium oxide, which ensures high quality light diffraction. [4] The term "half-crystal" has been used within glassmaking for glass with a relatively low level of lead.

Bohemia, currently a part of the Czech Republic, became famous for its beautiful and colourful glass during the Renaissance. The history of Bohemian glass started with the abundant natural resources found in the countryside.

Bohemian glass-workers discovered potash combined with chalk created a clear colourless glass that was more stable than glass from Italy. In the 16th century the term Bohemian crystal was used for the first time to distinguish its qualities from glass made elsewhere. This glass contained no lead as is commonly suspected. This Czech glass could be cut with a wheel. In addition, resources such as wood for firing the kilns and for burning down to ashes were used to create potash. There were also copious amounts of limestone and silica. In the 17th century, Caspar Lehmann, gem cutter to Emperor Rudolf II in Prague, adapted to glass the technique of gem engraving with copper and bronze wheels. During the era, the Czech lands became the dominant producer of decorative glassware and the local manufacture of glass earned international reputation in high Baroque style from 1685 to 1750.

Czech glassware became as prestigious as jewellery and was sought-after by the wealthy and the aristocracy of the time. Czech crystal chandeliers could be found in the palaces of the French king Louis XV, Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria, and Elizabeth of Russia.

Bohemia turned out expert craftsmen who artfully worked with crystal. Bohemian crystal became famous for its excellent cut and engraving. They became skilled teachers of glass-making in neighbouring and distant countries. By the middle of the 19th century, a technical glass-making school system was created that encouraged traditional and innovative techniques as well as thorough technical preparation.

In the second half of the 19th century, Bohemia looked to the export trade and mass-produced coloured glass that was exported all over the world. Pairs of vases were produced either in a single colour of opaque glass or in two-colour cased glass. These were decorated in thickly enamelled flower subjects that were painted with great speed. Others were decorated with coloured lithographic prints copying famous paintings. These glass objects were made in huge quantities in large factories and were available by mail order throughout Europe and America. Many of them were not fine art but provided inexpensive decorative objects to brighten up ordinary homes. Reverse glass painting was also a Czech specialty. The image is carefully painted by hand on the back of a pane of glass, using a variety of techniques and materials, after which the painting is mounted in a bevelled wooden frame.

Glass artisanship remained at a high level even under the Communists because it was considered ideologically innocuous and it helped promote the good name of the country. Czech glass designers and manufacturers enjoyed international recognition and Czech glassware including art works such as sculptures was displayed and awarded in many international exhibitions, most notably in Expo 58 world fair in Brussels and in Expo 67 in Montréal.

Today, Czech crystal chandeliers hang, for example, in Milan's La Scala, in Rome's Teatro dell'Opera, in Versailles, in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg or in the royal palace in Riyadh. Various sorts of glassware, art glass, ornaments, figurines, costume jewellery, beads and others also remain internationally valued.

One of the glass items for which the Czech nation is still well known is the production of "druk" beads. Druks are small (3mm-18mm) round glass beads with small threading holes produced in a wide variety of colors and finishes and used mainly as spacers among beaded jewellery makers. [5]


These People Love to Collect Radioactive Glass. Are They Nuts?

For many glass collectors, the only color that matters is Vaseline. That’s the catch-all word describing pressed, pattern, and blown glass in shades ranging from canary yellow to avocado green. Vaseline glass gets its oddly urinous color from radioactive uranium, which causes it to glow under a black light. Everyone who collects Vaseline glass knows it’s got uranium in it, which means everyone who comes in contact with Vaseline glass understands they’re being irradiated. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the gaffer making footed cake plates in a glass factory, the driver loading boxes of lace-edged compotes onto a truck, or the tchotchkes dealer setting out vintage Vaseline glass toothpick holders and tumblers for prospective customers—all of you are being zapped.

“If radioactivity is the thing that makes Vaseline glass cool, it’s not what makes Vaseline glass glow.”

Let’s say you’re that tchotchkes dealer’s customer, and you decide to purchase those tumblers because you think their hue will go nicely with your lemony Formica kitchen table. Well, you just bought yourself four tumblers full of radioactive beta-waves. Go ahead and fill those tumblers with orange juice or milk, then serve these wholesome beverages to your adorable children. Now you’ve exposed your innocent lambs to even more radiation, since minute traces of the uranium in the glass can leach into whatever your kids are drinking, coating their throats and stomach linings with a cool, radioactive wash. After slaking your children’s thirst, carefully rinse those tumblers by hand to absorb sponge after sponge of even greater concentrations of radioactivity.

For the record, none of this matters, not even a little bit. Yes, canary glass, uranium glass, or Vaseline glass, as it became known in the early 20th century for its similar color to petroleum jelly, emits radiation, but the amounts are tiny, infinitesimal, ridiculously small. Our bodies are subjected to many times more radiation every day. We receive a daily dose of radioactive contamination from the gamma rays that make it through our atmosphere after hurtling through outer space, from the naturally occurring radionuclides present in the ground we walk upon, from the background radiation lingering in the materials used to build the places we call our homes.

Above: Flower vases made at the Thomas Webb & Sons factory in England. The vases rest on a Vaseline glass base. Photo via Dave Peterson at VaselineGlass.org Top: The relationship between a piece of glass’s propensity to glow and its uranium content is often not predictable. The piece at left contains no uranium at all, while the dark piece at bottom-center contains the most of the group. Photo via Vaseline Glassware by Barrie Skelcher.

The beds we sleep in are radioactive the lawns we sprawl out on during the dog days of summer are, too. In fact, there’s more radioactive potassium-40 inside each and every one of us than anyone could ever receive from handling, using, or just plain eyeballing a piece, display case, or entire museum full of Vaseline glass. If you are really worried about the trace amounts of radiation in Vaseline glass, you’d do better to stop putting bananas on your yogurt, to cut out all those healthy spinach salads, and to stay very far away from baked potatoes, all of which are packed with blood-pressure-lowering, radioactive potassium.

None of this matters, either, but you’ve probably figured that out by now.

Still, in our post-Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl, and Fukushima world, radioactivity gives Vaseline glass a certain badass cachet. Some are drawn to its perceived menace so they can pat themselves on the back for not being intimidated by its unfairly toxic reputation. Others, like Dave Peterson, who co-founded Vaseline Glass Collectors, Inc., in 1998 and has written three books on the topic, gravitated to the material for more down-to-earth reasons. “It’s glass that does tricks,” he says, as full of affection for the stuff today as he was several decades ago, when he saw his first photo of a toothpick holder performing Vaseline glass’s most famous trick, glowing under a black light.

During the Victorian Era, glassmakers such as Adams & Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, produced novelty items like this wheelbarrow, which could have been used as a salt or to hold matches. Photo via Dave Peterson at VaselineGlass.org

Even if radioactivity is the thing that makes Vaseline glass cool, it’s not what makes Vaseline glass glow, says Barrie Skelcher, who’s written two Vaseline glass books of his own. That may come as a surprise to many Vaseline glass collectors, who assume that radioactivity is the reason why Vaseline glass glows under ultraviolet light, confusing the cartoon depiction of radioactivity for the science.

“Vaseline glass was a victim of the ordinary light bulb!”

“It’s the chemistry of uranium that makes Vaseline glass glow, not radioactivity,” Skelcher says by phone from England, where he lives with his wife, Shirley, and 500 or so pieces of Vaseline glass in a collection that once numbered more than 1,000. “It wouldn’t make any difference whether the glass contained depleted uranium with the 235 isotope removed or natural uranium the chemistry is identical. Uranium fluoresces under UV light.”

My kid sister agrees. Normally a sibling’s opinion on a question like this might not be especially relevant, but Naomi Marks is a Ph.D. in geology and a research scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where she, uh, well, I don’t actually know what she does, and she probably couldn’t tell me if I asked. Let’s just say she knows enough about uranium to confirm Skelcher’s statement.

Not all Vaseline glass is transparent, as seen in this opaque, decorative bowl, whose uranium content is hinted at under normal light (left) but reveals itself fully under UV (right). Photo via Vaseline Glassware by Barrie Skelcher.

“Clearly, it’s not radioactivity that makes the glass glow,” Marks says. “If it was that radioactive, you definitely wouldn’t want it in your home! The uranium fluoresces under UV light because the UV excites the electrons above the ground state and gives off photons as the electrons transition back to the ground state.” Sure, everybody knows that. “The fluorescence is just an inherent property of the uranyl compound in the glass.” Natch.

What about Skelcher’s added detail about depleted uranium? “In depleted U,” Marks continues, lapsing into fancy-pants-scientist jargon, “the 235 is mostly, but not completely, removed. Since the fluorescence is a fundamental property of the U and has nothing to do with the isotopics, it doesn’t matter what the radioactive level of the U might be.”

This Victorian Era novelty glass in the form of an elephant vase was produced by Burtles, Tate & Co. of Manchester, England. Photo via Dave Peterson at VaselineGlass.org

So there you have it—the glow of Vaseline glass under a black light has nothing to do with radiation, as many people erroneously believe. Which is not to say that absolutely all glass that glows green under a black light has uranium in it. Other elements such as manganese can produce a similar effect, and sometimes pieces with a relatively large amount of uranium in them will glow less brightly than those with less, depending on the composition of a particular batch of glass. In general, though, if it glows green it’s Vaseline.

Skelcher learned to look for that telltale glow when he was amassing his collection during the research he conducted for his books. “I sometimes shopped at outdoor antiques fairs in open fields,” he recalls. “As the sun began to set and the twilight came up, the real pieces of Vaseline would glow during that little window of time—that’s when I would look around the field to see which stands had uranium glass.” Although less ultraviolet light reaches the surface of the Earth at twilight, its effect is more pronounced since there’s also less visible light at that hour. Thus, the stuff with uranium in it, as opposed to run-of-the-mill, uranium-free, green Depression glass, became a beacon to this sharp-eyed, Vaseline-glass hunter.

A Bohemian espresso cup and saucer produced between 1850 and 1860 for the Persian market. Natural light on left, UV light on right. Photos via Dave Peterson at VaselineGlass.org

People in the 19th century probably noticed that twilight glow, too. “We’re not really sure,” Skelcher allows, “but we think that glow was considered quite attractive in those days. People’s houses didn’t have electric light all those years ago. Most would have had candles or perhaps a gas light. If they put their uranium glass on a windowsill, the glass would glow as the sun went down.”

The name of the person who first used uranium in glass has long been lost to history, but the uranium-glass creation myth generally invokes Bohemian glassmaker Josef Riedel, whose factory in what is now the Czech Republic cranked out the first production-level quantities of uranium glass in the 1830s in two colors—Annagrun (green) and Annagelb (yellow). James Powell’s Whitefriars glass company in London almost certainly beat Riedel to market by a year or so, and Skelcher says he’s even found evidence of uranium glass manufactured in England in the 1820s using radioactive rock mined in Cornwall.

Water lilies by John Walsh Walsh of Birmingham, England, circa 1903. Courtesy Bob Harry/Robert Leal photo via Dave Peterson at VaselineGlass.org

Regardless of who did what first, we know that the mineral itself was identified in 1789, when German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth named it after our solar system’s most recently discovered planet. Back then, uranium was seen as just one more mineral to color clear silicon dioxide, the main constituent in the sand glass is made from. Chemists like Klaproth knew that cadmium turned glass yellow, cobalt made it blue, manganese produced violet shades, and certain compounds of gold went red when heated, blown, and cooled.

“When they found uranium,” says Skelcher, “they probably thought, ‘Oh, this makes a colored solution what would happen if we put it into glass?’”

Over the years, successive glass manufacturers in Europe and the United States melted a lot of sand to find out. In the Czech Republic, Harrach Glassworks used uranium in decanters, goblets, and trays, while Riedel put Annagelb and Annagrun to work in intricately cut and layered vases and handled mugs. In England, one of Skelcher’s favorite glassmakers, Thomas Webb & Sons, began adding uranium to its glass batches in the 1840s almost half a century later, a Webb recipe for an 1880s Topaz color called for a whopping 7.3 percent uranium by weight.

This Vaseline keg and set of glasses was made in the early 20th century by Cambridge Glass Co. of Cambridge, Ohio. Photo via Dave Peterson at VaselineGlass.org

In the United States, Pennsylvania companies from McKee to Adams to Westmoreland made Vaseline glass fairy lamps, candy containers, and lidded pots. Hobbs, Brockunier & Co. and Northwood of West Virginia were known in the late 1800s for their bumpy hobnail pieces, while one of the state’s (and country’s) biggest Vaseline glass producers, Fenton, arrived in 1907. Another West Virginia giant, Fostoria, didn’t get into Vaseline until the 1920s, which it marketed briefly as Canary.

And then there was Ohio, home to the highly influential Cambridge Glass Company, whose uranium content in its Vaseline-glass recipes ranged from Thomas Webb & Sons-levels of 7 percent to as little as 1/10 of 1 percent. In general, recipes for Cambridge Vaseline hovered at the low end of that continuum, although a batch of an opaque color called Primrose called for 2.9 percent uranium by weight, which meant a batch of Primrose with 1,000-pounds of sand in it included almost 60 pounds of uranium. More typical was the recipe for a clear hue also called Topaz, like Webb’s, which contained 7/10 of 1 percent uranium by weight, or roughly 12 1/2 pounds per batch.

This Vaseline glass chick salt from Boyd’s Crystal Art Glass measures just 2 1/2 inches across.

Those Cambridge recipes are from the 1920s and ’30s, long after uranium was discovered to be radioactive by French physicist Henri Becquerel in 1896 (he shared a Nobel Prize for his insight with Marie and Pierre Curie in 1903) but well before scientists understood how harmful radioactive materials could be to people’s health. Still, concerns for public safety, even misplaced ones, were not the reason why the popularity of Vaseline glass was already waning at the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. According to Jay Glickman and Terry Fedosky, whose 1998 Yellow-Green Vaseline! remains one of the better primers on the subject, the decline of Vaseline glass had a lot to do with the picture Skelcher paints of those shadow-filled Victorian domiciles lit at twilight by shelves of glowing Vaseline glass. With the advent of electricity, such sublime moments were flooded by the glare of artificial, full-spectrum light. “Vaseline glass was a victim of the ordinary light bulb!” the authors exclaim.

By the middle of the century, uranium was deemed critical to the war effort (in the United States, that meant the Manhattan Project), which removed uranium from civilian use from 1942 until 1958. Radiation tricks, however, were still commonplace in many public places. “I remember when I was a kid in the late 1940s,” Skelcher recalls. “You could go into a shoe shop and x-ray your foot in a boot to see if it fit. No one realized back then that the radiation was doing you damage.”

The drape-like design of this Thomas Webb & Sons vase is called Filomentosa. Circa 1900, in normal light (left) and UV (right). Photo via Dave Peterson at VaselineGlass.org

X-rays are far more powerful and dangerous than the comparatively paltry alpha and beta rays found in Vaseline glass. “Every house has alpha waves in it because every house has a smoke detector,” notes Peterson, referring to fractional micrograms of americium-241 that can be found in each device. Alpha rays are weak, which is why smoke needs to come in contact with the detector to set off the alarm, and they can be blocked by a flimsy sheet of paper. Beta waves are stronger, although a single pane of glass is all it takes to deflect them, and they dissipate within 18 inches anyway. In contrast, about the only thing x-rays can’t penetrate is lead, which is why they took such good pictures of bones, even those wrapped tight in flesh and boot leather.

After restrictions on the civilian uses of uranium were eased in the 1950s, Vaseline glass made a comeback. In the United States, Fenton was one of the biggest producers until it ceased operations in 2011. Mosser Glass, also based in Cambridge, Ohio, was founded in 1964 and is still pressing Vaseline glass, making molded-glass cake stands, mixing bowls, creamers, salt-and-pepper shakers, compotes, tumblers, candlesticks, oil lamps, punch bowls, water pitchers, kittens, hens, and chicks. For Mosser, Vaseline is just another color in its extensive catalog, like Amber or Aqua, Passion Pink or Hunter Green.

A Vaseline glass butter dish and cover in the shape of a horseshoe and jockey’s cap. Attributed to King Glass of Pittsburgh, late 19th century. Photo via Dave Peterson at VaselineGlass.org

Mosser’s Cambridge neighbor, Boyd’s Crystal Art Glass, which has been pressing glass since 1978, made its last piece of Vaseline glass about a year or so ago, as it winds down operations after a 36-year run. Until recently, John Boyd, who earned a masters in botany and is both the grandson and son of the firm’s father-and-son founders, was the guy responsible for adding uranium to batches of Boyd glass. In the early days, he says, Boyd’s was able to purchase raw quantities of U-308, which he says “looked like coffee grounds. You just can’t get that any more. We had to switch to uranium dioxide, which looks like iron filings. The color is a little bit different, a little bit greener.”

Boyd’s used its 15-pound allotments (the maximum amount of uranium the company was allowed to keep on hand at any given moment) to make a type of uranium glass it called Firefly. But, John says, you can use uranium to make colors other than Vaseline. “We made a color called Golden Delight, which is kind of an amber. It will fluoresce under a black light just like any uranium-containing glass. I’m pretty sure we used less than ½ of 1 percent of uranium in a batch. Cambridge Glass,” he adds, “had a color called Avocado, which had 3 percent uranium in it. You just can’t make that any more. You just can’t reproduce that color. There are too many restrictions on the use of uranium.”

This contemporary amber or topaz paperweight from England fluoresces green when exposed to UV light (right). Photo via Vaseline Glassware by Barrie Skelcher.

The main restriction is that 15-pound limit, which, if used all at once in a 1,000-pound batch of glass, would only get the uranium content up to 1 1/2 percent. That would have been a lot of uranium for a piece of Boyd’s Vaseline glass, as a typical Boyd’s recipe shows. “Someone else would put out the 400 pounds of sand, the 150 pounds of soda,” John says, rattling off the main ingredients in a typical batch, “and then I would do the finesse, weighing out the 12 ounces of uranium dioxide.” While handling the material, John would take the sorts of precautions you might expect a worker in a glass factory to take to protect himself, but it wasn’t like he was lumbering around in a lead-lined suit covered with radioactive warning tags. “I’d wear coveralls, a respirator, and have a fan going so I’m upwind from any dust. I just tried to be aware of the hazards around me, the risk of silicosis from inhaling the silica in the sand or the damage to your lungs from breathing in the cobalt. We were dealing with some pretty caustic materials, so the coveralls stayed at the factory—you didn’t bring them home.”

In fact, uranium was often not the worst thing in a batch of Boyd’s Vaseline glass. “We used arsenic as a refining agent,” John says casually of the world’s most infamous toxic element. “Arsenic will actually go from As2O3 to As2O5, meaning it’s picking up the oxygen atoms in the glass, which show up as bubbles—you generally don’t want a lot of bubbles in your glass. So there can be things like arsenic in a batch of glass that are actually a little rougher than uranium. You have to be very mindful to handle everything safely.”

The Somerset pattern by George Davidson & Co. of England was first produced in 1895. Photo via Dave Peterson at VaselineGlass.org

Lead, of course, is another traditional ingredient in glass, as in leaded crystal. Again, referring to a Cambridge recipe, one batch from the first half of the 20th century called for 850 pounds of sand, 330 pounds of soda, 100 pounds of feldspar, 42 pounds of lime, 50 pounds of nitrate, 36 pounds of lead, 10 pounds of arsenic, 43 ounces of uranium, and 13 ounces of copper oxide. Lead was removed from household paint in 1978 because it is so harmful to children, which makes that 36 pounds of the stuff seem a good deal more menacing than a mere 2 1/2 pounds of uranium. Fortunately it takes several hours for the lead in a crystal glass to leach into, say, the wine that glass is holding, which means lead is fine for glassware but probably not a great idea for decanters if you don’t plan on drinking whatever is inside in a short period of time.

With lead, though, there’s at least a use case in which the poison can enter your bloodstream. Getting uranium into your system, says Skelcher, would actually require a fair amount of effort. When asked to be more specific, about the scenario Skelcher could think of to make the small amount of uranium in Vaseline glass harmful to one’s health would be to grind up a piece until it was a fine powder and swallow it, which, he was quick to point out “would be a daft thing to do.” But in that daft scenario, the radioactivity in the uranium would now be in your body, and those alpha and beta rays would have nowhere else to go.

An Adams & Co. Vaseline glass mug to help children learn their ABCs, circa 1880s. Photo via Dave Peterson at VaselineGlass.org

Most people will probably be able to resist their urge to put Skelcher’s hyperbolic suggestion to the test, but that’s not to say fans of Vaseline glass are completely out of the woods just yet. It comes back to that trick, that fluorescing, that black-light glow people like Dave Peterson, Barrie Skelcher, and John Boyd enjoy so much. Black lights, by definition, emit nothing but ultraviolet rays, which are known to cause skin cancer (that’s why we put on sunscreen when we go outside, although now that’s supposed to be bad for us, too). Depending on its wavelength (the shorter ones are the worst), UV light can also damage the retina and cornea of the eye, which means the only truly dangerous thing about Vaseline glass is making it perform its trick. For his part, Dave Peterson plays it safe by making sure the black lights he uses emit the relatively safer, long UVA waves rather than the more harmful shorter waves that characterize UVBs or UVCs. “I’m more concerned about what black light I use than how much uranium I have in my house,” he says.

(For more information about Vaseline glass, check out Vaseline Glass Collectors, Inc., or Barrie Skelcher’s site. Peterson’s books, including Vaseline Glass: Canary to Contemporary, are available via amazon and other online sellers Skelcher’s are available via Schiffer Books. To purchase new Vaseline glass, visit Boyd’s Crystal Art Glass or Mosser Glass.)


Indiana Glass Company

In 1896, James Beatty and George Brady purchased an unused Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive and car repair building in Dunkirk, Indiana, and refitted it as a glassworks. Beatty-Brady produced household glass, lamps, lamp chimneys, and vases. In the early 1900s, Beatty-Brady Glass became part of the National Glass Combine. The combine changed the name to the Indiana Glass Company.

When the National Glass Combine failed in 1907, a group of investors led by Frank Merry and Harold Phillips bought the Indiana Glass Company. The company’s letterhead noted the company was founded in 1907. The company continued production of pressed glass.

Although the company made iridescent (carnival) glass, the number of patterns was minimal. Indiana Glass’s principal products consisted of barware, berry sets, goblets, jellies, novelties, tableware, tumblers, stemware, and water sets. Many of the novelty items were miniatures meant for use by children. A soda fountain line was added in 1919. Indiana Glass also produced the A & W root beer mugs.

In 1923, Indiana Glass introduced Avocado, its first Depression glass pattern. Additional Depression glass patterns such as Pyramid, Tea Room, and Indiana Sandwich followed. By the late 1930s, over a dozen Depression Glass patterns were being manufactured. The 1930s also witnessed the introduction of a line of hen on nest novelties. In production for over 70 years, these hen on nest novelties were made in over 75 colors.

During World War II, Indiana Glass made headlights, lenses, and other industrial products. Milk glass was introduced in the 1950s. New patterns such as Christmas Candy and Orange Blossom were introduced. Production of barware, restaurant, and soda fountain ware continued.

In 1957, Lancaster Glass Corporation purchased Indiana Glass Company, keeping the plant and brand name in operation. Colony Glass turned to Indiana Glass to help produce its Harvest pattern milk glass. A brief period of prosperity occurred in the early and mid-1960s. In 1962, Lancaster Glass became part of the Lancaster Colony Corporation. New lines, patterns such as King’s Crown and Ruby Band Diamond Point, and colors, like ruby flash glass, were added. Carnival patterns were reissued.

In 1983, Lancaster Colony purchased Fostoria Glass. Several of the Fostoria molds were sent to Indiana Glass. Indiana Glass also acquired old Duncan & Miller, Federal Glass, and Imperial Glass molds. Reproductions made from these molds were marketed as “Tiara Reproductions.” In the 1990s, Indiana Glass made glasses for Budweiser and Coca Cola and a variety of household glass accessories under contract to Wal-Mart.

By the end of the 1990s, Indiana Glass and its parent company Lancaster Colony began experiencing financial difficulties. A disastrous strike occurred in 2001. The workers returned to work in January 2002. In November 2002, Lancaster Colony announced it was ending glass production in Dunkirk. The factory closed on November 256, 2002.

Although Indiana Glass production ceased in Dunkirk in 2002, the Indiana Glass name survives. Since 2002, Indiana Glass is being produced at Bartlett & Collins, a factory owned by Lancaster Colony.


Treasures: Do these glass vases have a history?

These vases were passed down to me from my grandmother. I would like to know a little history about them so I can pass them on to my son. They are orange and black (or dark blue), and 9 inches tall. Any information would be appreciated.        

These vases were passed down to me from my grandmother. I would like to know a little history about them so I can pass them on to my son. They are orange and black (or dark blue), and 9 inches tall. Any information would be appreciated.         

We think this pair of vases is really attractive and interesting. Singles in this type of glass are much more commonly found, and this pair makes a nice statement with their strong colors and distinctive shapes.         

First, we should probably discuss the type of glass this is. In the past, many collectors have called this multicolored glassware "end-of-day" glass because of a myth that said that at the end of the work day, glassblowers took the various colors of glass they had worked with, mixed them up, and blew this multicolored glass from the resulting mixture.         

That is just ridiculous. If a glassblower mixed all the colors together, all he or she would get is a muddy molten mess -- not the streaked and spotted product in today's question. The more proper term for this sort of ware is "spatter glass," and although it first appeared in the 19th century, it is still widely made today.         

Early on, this glass was sometimes called "splash glass," but spatter is more accepted today. To make this type of glass, shards of different colored glass are spread over a table-like work surface called a "marver."          

The glass blower begins by blowing a bubble into the base glass and then rolls the hot mass over the marver. The shards stick to the molten glass in a random fashion, and at this point the whole mass is reheated in the glass furnace. The glass blower then expands the bubble and shapes it into the desired form.         

The shape of these particular vases is called "jack-in-the-pulpit," which is a reference to the arisaema triphyllum - also called "bog onion," "Indian turnip" or "brown dragon." In this plant, the leaves wrap around to form the funnel shaped "pulpit" with a kind of pointed protrusion at the back.          

In the center, there is a "spadix" that stands straight up and looks like a person -- this is the "jack" in the pulpit. This form of plant life was interpreted in glassware from the late 19th century through the current day, and there are enthusiasts who collect only jack-in-the-pulpit vases.         

P.O.B. should look very carefully at the bases of her items. There she might find the word "Czechoslovakia," which would identify this as the country of origin for this circa 1920 pair of vases.         

Czechoslovakia did not exist as a separate country until after World War I. In 1918, it was created largely from the part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire known as "Bohemia."

Bohemia -- and later Czechoslovakia -- has been a major center for glass production for centuries. Some of the finest glassware in the world was made there, but they also competed on the world market with relatively inexpensive wares -- such as this pair of spatter jack-in-the-pulpit vases.

For insurance replacement purposes, this pair should be valued in the $200 to $250 range.         


Bohemian Glass Reproductions of Old Designs

Defining "reproduction," "replica" and "vintage" glass is a challenge in itself. Identifying it is even more difficult. We use the term "replica" to describe glass that is a copy of an older design, with no intent to deceive the buyer&ndashusually there is some small difference between them. But an uninformed or dishonest seller can pass replicas off as vintage. As Ronald Reagan used to say: "Trust, but verify."

We have said many times that the Bohemian glass industry keeps one eye on the past and one eye on the future. Glass school students are well grounded in 18 th and 19 th century techniques, as well as those that are the most advanced. Research facilities constantly produce new formulas and techniques for the entire spectrum of the glass industry: industrial, laboratory, architectural and hollow glass.

If you visit any large showroom in the Czech Republic today, you will find designs by such avant-garde artists as Vladimir Klein (Crystalex), Erika Houserova and JíYí Suhajek (Moser), and Paval Hlava (Egermann Company). Art glass galleries also include products designed by top glass artists but produced in smaller glass houses, such as that of Beranek or Ajeto.

Czech glass companies keep glass products in production for many years. Some of the Egermann-style, red-stained engraved glass has changed very little in the past 100 or more years. Nor has the white, high enamel technique depicting human, animal and floral motifs (painters call this high enamel "plastic"). Another example of classic Bohemian glass technology is overlay glass, cut to reveal the underlying color(s). This form of art glass has been in continuous production since the early 1830s.

Bohemian glass made between 1750 and 1940 can compete favorably with the glass industry of any country. Even so, Friedrich Egermann&ndashone of the foremost glass innovators of his time&ndashproduced painted glass in the style of his predecessors Kothgasser and Mohn, who decorated glass in Vienna. The swartzlot (black) paintings of Ignatz Preissler have been replicated by every generation of painters for 200 years. There can be no doubt that the Art Nouveau and Art Deco glass made by Harrach and Loetz will serve as models for glass makers for many years to come.

Sometimes replicas occur as the whim of one particular person to challenge the past, but it also happens that a particular style will come back into fashion after 75 or 100 years: neo-classicism, neo-rococo and Second Biedermeier are all fashions that have had a successful revival.

One of the most accomplished painters in the Czech Republic is JiYi Hortensky. Hortensky (of Novy Bor and Kamenicky Senov) has worked closely with the Glass Museum in Novy Bor and others to produce replicas of Biedermeier and Rococo beakers. He faithfully copies the original with only the slightest change to set his work apart. His work is nearly always signed. Museums and collectors often use his work as substitutes for vintage examples that cannot otherwise be obtained.

The glassware produced by Heinrich Hoffmann and Henry Schlevogt in the 1930s is still immensely popular. Today it is being produced by Ornela under the Desna label. The Moser firm in Karlovy Vary produces innumerable designs dating back to 1900 and occasionally even earlier. The Exbor Studios had its beginning as the Lobmeyr workshop in Kamenicky Senov it moved to Novy Bor and was incorporated into Egermann-Exbor in 1962. The 1950s saw an explosion of artists who either specialized in glass only or provided designs for glassmakers on an occasional free-lance basis. Legends such as Vera LiSkova, Ludvika Smrckova, Stanislav Libensky and Pavel Hlava created designs that will still be in production 100 years from now. Over and over glass has proven that grand designs are timeless.

Whether a new piece is called a replica or reproduction is a matter to be discussed by philosophers and crooks. As one politician said: "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." Like it or not, new glass is in the American market and often described as vintage. While new glass can be a great source of enjoyment when honestly represented, fraudulent marketing can be painful for the victim.

Cameo Glass: Sandblasted or Acid Etched?

Even a casual examination of cameo glass will reveal two distinct characteristics. First, the modern sandblasting technique produces an extremely sharp edge, while acid-etching produces a slightly irregular edge. Second, a sandblasted surface is very smooth, while acid produces a rough tapioca-type surface.

See more new glass with old designs at the following web sites


Glass Vases, Epidaurus - History

The Museum of American Glass in West Virginia.

Imagine a museum dedicated to the region and nation's rich glass heritage. A place where examples of thousands of products can be viewed and compared and where the stories of people and processes come to life! The MAGWV provides this and much, much more.

The Museum of American Glass in West Virginia was established in Weston, West Virginia, in 1993 as a non-profit organization with a goal to discover, publish and preserve whatever may relate to the glass industry in West Virginia, the United States of America or where ever else glass has been manufactured.

The Museum is located at
230 Main Ave.
Weston, West Virginia 26452
Phone: 304-269-5006

Some GPS units will take you the wrong way on Main Street so here are the
latitude & longitude coordinates for the museum to use in your GPS unit:
N 39 deg 02.326', W 80 deg 28.001'

We are open to the public

Monday - Saturday 9:30 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. Sundays 1:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M.

MAGWV Auction Going on now

Bidding Notice: Place absentee bids online here if you can not attend the auction

MAGWV Collections are Online

MAGWV Given Custody of American Flint Glass Workers Union Archives!

We now have a climate-controlled archival storage area on the second floor

MAGWV has an Ebay Store!

Purchase memberships to the Museum, monographs, books, original catalogs, Back issues of All About Glass and more! Click Here to visit.
Back issues of the Early American Pattern Glass Society News Journal
are also available now.

The Museum has a Gift Shop.

Books and Monographs for sale as well as hundreds of pieces of glass offered by a selection of vendors. And we now accept credit cards!

The Voice of the Glass Collecting Community

The magazine is one of the privileges of membership to the Museum.
To learn how YOU can receive it Click Here

Interested in glass research?

Click on Museum Store to order catalog reprints, monographs and original catalogs many containing never-before published glass company information.
Also pursue our Catalog Holdings and find out how to order copies!


A Brief History of Italian and Scandinavian Mid Century Glassware

Mid century glassware is special, the sculptural and organic forms create an amazing effect capturing the light and decorating the room all alone. It often had a sculptural look, even if designed for a daily-use as table-wares, paperweights, platters and so on.

From the late 20s and across all mid century, designers began to replace craftsmen becoming real glass artists while manufacturers created series of functional vases, as wine glasses and tumblers, establishing dedicated art glass departments. Specially in the 50s the distinction between art and daily-use products became subtle as swirling colours and more organic forms were adopted for functional designs.

(Tapio Wirkkala vases – found here)

The Italian Glass Market Throughout the Mid Century

In Murano(Italy) the glass-maker Paolo Venini -that began to experiment with new glass designs already in the early 20s- became the Italian glass manufacturer market leader across the mid century, encouraging the cooperation between designers and artists to create original products.

Venini contributed to re-invent the Murano glass business using sculptural and asymmetrical forms for his works: a revolution. Together with Venini, also Dino Martens and Aldo Nason contributed to bring the Murano market back to success after the crisis.

Martens liked to re-imagine daily use designs making sculptural and abstract objects, while Nason was more known for his organic forms and candy-coloured motifs inspired by natural elements and contrasting with the classic, and subdued, pre-war Murano glass style.

(Murano vase – found in the book Mid Century Modern)

Mid Century Glass Design in Scandinavia

Even if they never used a particularly bright colour palette like the Italians, also Scandinavian designers experimented with new and original colour mixes, using basic pigments and different additives.

Sven Palmqvist, for example, was inspired by the Byzantine mosaics while designing the Ravenna glass series.
The designers Tapio Wirkkala and Timo Sarpaneva won international prizes and contributed to the success of the brand Iittala, creating modern and elegant products.

(Sven Palmqvist – Ravenna series glass – found here)

(Sven Palmqvist vases – found here)

(Tapio Wirkkala vases – found here)

Wirkkala designed a range of products based on jagged ice blocks, lichen vessels and mushroom shapes while the Tapio series captured air’s lightness and transparency trapping a bubble within each dense stem.

Sarpaneva’s work was more eclectic, going from functionality to luxury.
Specially during the 50s, he adopted a sculptural approach with his i-Glass series. The colours he used -smoky with a subtle metallic tint- inspired many designers and created one of the most recognisable mid century colour palette.

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