Russell and Kitty Umbraco
March 1, 2016: Collecting STRETCH GLASS
We hope everyone is ready for STRETCH TUESDAY. We are Russell and Kitty Umbraco and today is our first time on the mailing list. Everyone asks why we started collecting carnival and stretch glass. In the mid 1960’s while attending the University of Nevada in Reno, Russell heard about gold coins being dug in the Virginia City Dump. He madly rushed to Virginia City to find gold coins, but found some old dirty bottles. Later when we were dating, he gave me a flower in an old aqua bottle that had a pretty natural iridescence. The bottle looked dirty so I washed it. The iridescence went down the drain!!! Mother Natures’ iridescence is very fragile as chemicals in the soil eat away the finish of the glass. A few years later, bottles were found in Benicia, CA. At low tide they were digging in the Bay mud. Because there had been a tannery and other businesses that dumped their chemicals in the Bay in the 1800’s (yes they had pollution in the 1800’s), many of the bottles had a beautiful iridescence on the outside of the bottles. They are highly collectable today.
One day while at the flea market, we spotted a plain rolled rim celeste blue (stretch glass) iridescent bowl which we purchased because it was pretty. Friends and antique dealers identified the bowl as Tiffany, Steuben, carnival glass, etc. So we did research on the bowl. When compared to art glass like Tiffany, we realized the blue bowl wasn’t art glass! It didn’t really look like carnival glass either.
In doing the research (no computers in those days), we found a copy of Larry Freeman’s book “Iridescent Glass”. According to Mr. Freeman, around 1858 the Lobmyer Brothers were having a celebration in their Hungarian glass factory and by accident some of the fireworks went into the ovens. When the glass came out of the ovens, some of the glass had a beautiful iridescence. They played around with the chemicals used in the fireworks and made modern iridescent glass. Christine do you ever think of this “lucky” accident when you are working with the fireworks and your carnival glass?
In the 1960’s, Stretch Glass was called “onion skin,” “Tiffany” – “Poor Man’s Tiffany,” “Aurora,” “Imperial Jewels,” “Stretch Glass,” etc. Most of the company names only described their line of “Stretch Glass” so the most descriptive name and the name that most glass collectors used was Stretch Glass. Stretch Glass is a “cousin” of carnival glass. It starts out like a piece of carnival glass. The following steps are greatly simplified in making pressed, iridescent glass: carnival and stretch glass are pressed molded glass that have been shaped into a plate, bowl, vase, etc. Then the piece is sprayed with special chemicals which will adhere to the surface to produce the iridescent finish. For Stretch Glass, after it is sprayed, the piece is put back in the ovens. This step will make the iridescent finish contract to make the “stretch” finish. The reheating of the glass has a tendency to melt heavily patterned pieces if they are not carefully watched. This is one reason why most stretch glass has a simple or no pattern. The Homestead plate on the left shows how the reheating of the plate melts the pattern. The blue plate on the right has sharp details. The smoke Homestead plate has a stretch finish; whereas the blue Homestead plate has a ‘smooth carnival’ finish.
The Stretch Tuesday topic for today is smoking pieces. Smoking was prevalent in the “Roaring Twenties.” In the 1920’s, they had a dish for everything (sometimes we wonder how big their dining tables must have been to hold all of the dishes?). The first picture at the top of article shows a match holder on the right which is carnival glass; can’t find the manufacture’s identity in our research materials, but the base is like several Dugan/Diamond pieces and the dark color is similar to Diamond’s Egyptian Luster. The green match holder on the left is made by Diamond. The second picture (below) is a Fenton #556 cigarette holder with an oval top; the third picture is a Fenton #554 cigarette holder with a round top; the fourth picture is a Fenton #655 cigarette box – the removable lid is fragile and has a wheel cutting “flower” in the center and etched “K(reversed) KK” around the edge. The 3 Fenton pieces come in a variety of Fenton colors except red and cobalt blue. Picture #5 is an ashtray also by Fenton and is quite easy to find in celeste blue and topaz (yellow) – some have the metal band and others are plain. The individual small glass ash trays are in a gradual range of sizes so they stack in the ashtray. They have been found in topaz, celeste blue, Persian pearl (white) and Florentine green. These cigarette dishes would have been sitting in the living room and on bridge tables so they were handy when someone wanted a “smoke.” Has anyone seen any other colors? The topaz piece, #5, is by US glass. The pack of cigarettes would fit in the center with cigarette holders on the side. We have never seen this piece before. Would consider it rare but “rare” isn’t always desirable nor expensive. The last piece is by Northwood. The footed bowl with an ashtray on top is Northwood. The cigarette ashtray is similar to the one made by Fenton. The glass companies copied each other which makes identifying which company made a piece of glass interesting at times. After many years of people smoking, we certainly know that smoking is very bad for your health.
The six photos below were taken by Dave Shelter – thanks, Dave.
Hope to see everyone at the Southern California Carnival Glass Convention in two weeks in Ontario. It is always a lot of fun. Happy carnival and stretch glass collecting,
Russell and Kitty
PS: Recently, we found a secondhand store that advertised “antiques.” Went in under protest and in the dark, Russell found a dirty iridescent aqua opal Rose Show Bowl. After washing, it glows. What have you found lately?
From: Dave Richards (Cumbria UK)
To: Ian and Barbara
Re: Your Primrose Opal bowl
Your lovely bowl is George Davidsons' William and Mary pattern. It's generally described as Primrose Pearline glass rather than Vaseline as I don't think they usually glow under UV light. Does yours?
The same pattern is also found in their Blue Pearline range. It should have a registration number somewhere on it, but I can't tell you what this would be as I don't have the listings to hand.
From: BugDoc Dave
To: Neal Collins
Re: Green Stretch Glass Bowl
There are only two companies that made this “45-degree” bowl (so named because the sides are usually at a near 45-degrees from the base) – Diamond and Lancaster. The Lancaster bowls are either marigold or crystal (often with enamel or floral decorations), but the Diamond ones can come in most of the Diamond colors (i.e., blue, green, wisteria, Egyptian Lustre – black, and Blue Crackle – cobalt blue). The base diameter of the Diamond bowls are in the 4 3/8-inch range while the Lancaster ones are about 4 1/8-inch. They also differ at the basal shoulder (where the bottom edge of the bowl side meets the snap foot). Diamond bowls have a very thin, straight line around the bowl while the Lancaster bowls have a rounded seam. I’m including images of the bottom of a Diamond “45” blue bowl and a Lancaster “45” bowl in their Ruby Lustre (orange to cream enamel on crystal stretch glass).
From: Tony D
The pattern is Della Robbia made by Westmoreland for Levay glass. It is most likely signed Gary Levi on the base of the pitcher and all tumblers. We have a 7pc set and is signed. There were 150 sets made in 1978.
I assume the pattern name comes from the color of the set which is blue. Iridescence is very very good.
RE: Mickey’s Tumbler Question
This is a Westmoreland #1058 DELLA ROBBIA Tumbler in Cobalt Blue Carnival Glass that was made for Levay Glass (Gary Levi) by Westmoreland in 1978.
From: Glen and Stephen Thistlewood
To: Brian and All
Thank you so much for your kind words in the mailing list - they brought tears to Glen's eyes. So many years, so many words, so very many memories of wwwcga to look back on. They were amazing times, good times. We will treasure the part that wwwcga has played in our Carnival Glass world.
However . to (mis)quote Mark Twain, the rumors of our demise have been somewhat exaggerated (smile). Our increasing and intense family pressures, commitments and responsibilities meant that we needed to step down from the editorship of the CGS (UK) Newsletter but we will continue to write articles for the CGS and to support the CGS club, just as we have always done.
And of course, our Carnival Glass Worldwide website continues to grow and thrive, with features, articles and fresh information being added constantly. We're also working on a major surprise. Good things take time, so bear with us a little while yet.
And did we mention NetworK? Chuckle. Our free Carnival Glass ezine NetworK is flourishing. Time for a neat segue.
From: Glen and Stephen Thistlewood
We're both delighted and overwhelmed by the phenomenal popularity and rapid growth in distribution of our FREE Carnival Glass ezine, NetworK. The March issue is being sent out and we hope you all enjoy reading it - perhaps while sipping a glass of wine or grape juice to get the full sensory experience. Chuckle.
If you don't already get our free NetworK ezine, it's easy to remedy that! Just sign-up on our website – here's the link. Don't miss it.
You can also access all our Back Issues if you've missed any. Here's the link to the Back Issues.
From: Glen and Stephen Thistlewood
To: Mickey Reichel
Re: your mystery tumbler
If you have our book "A Century of Carnival Glass," please turn to page 220 where you'll see the twin to your mystery tumbler. It is "Della Robia," made by Westmoreland for Levay. Hope this helps.
From: Ian and Barbara, Cape Breton
To: Nancy (UK), and Mitchell
Subject: Davidson’s #413701
Thank you both very much for identifying our ‘Primrose Pearline’/’William and Mary’ 5” dish/shallow bowl. I was very pleased to find such a nice piece of vaseline opal at a reasonable price. To learn that it is English is a nice bonus. Thank you again.
From: Gene K.
I am just catching up on the mailing list. I see you were at the bull riding event recently. I watched it on TV. I try to never miss an event. The one you were at I believe is the PBR one. (Professional Bull Riders). The other big one is the CBR. (Championship Bull Riders)
The PBR is the major league one. The CBR is like a junior varsity team. The PBR is where you’ll see the biggest and baddest bulls. There is a lot of money in bull riding now days if you are good at it. Out of the top ten riders in the PBR you’ll find the majority are Brazilian cowboys. They just seem to wanted more. My favorite is an American, J.B. Mauney. He’s a 29 year old and if you’ve never seen him ride, make a pint of watching him sometime. He makes it look easy. He won the championship last year and it earned him $1,000,000.00.
[From Brian: It was a fun night, although most couldn't stay on for more than 2-3 seconds. It was indeed the PBR event and there were a lot of people there!]