CAL HACKEMAN, SGS PRESIDENT, AS GUEST EDITOR –HOOKED ON CARNIVAL
JANUARY 16, 2016 PRESENTATION: STRETCH GLASS – Opaque COLORS
Cal here. It’s Saturday night and we had a fun day with Everett (and his parents). Everett is a little young to take antiquing, so we took him to the park to play instead. He is not, however, too young to learn about stretch glass. On his first visit to our home this past Thanksgiving, I made sure to introduce him to stretch glass. I think he liked all the colors – time will tell which one turns out to be his favorite.
Ok, on to opaque stretch glass. US Glass was the leader in terms of the variety of opaque stretch glass they made, but Northwood also made Jade Blue and opaque white stretch glass. Imperial made some Milk Glass with various colors of iridescence – some very beautiful and some not so much. One of my favorites is “Blue Ice” (or Smoke) over milk glass. It is stunning as you will see in the photo of the top of the vase. Sometimes it is tough to see the iridescence on opaque glass and sometimes the iridescence is ONLY on the inside, requiring special examination in order to not pass up a rarity. Speaking of rarity, Northwood opaque white stretch glass is only known in very limited quantities – one or two examples of some shapes, slightly more of others. Apparently it was not put into regular production. Some of the Northwood opaque white is highly decorated and any piece of it is a “great find.”
I hope you are enjoying our focus on iridescent stretch glass. Since most stretch glass does not have patterns and because of the timing of the application of the iridescence it is quite different from, yet very similar to carnival glass. They go well together as many of you know.
To Dave, I’m glad you are enjoying the stretch glass photos. It is beautiful glass to be sure. As I understand it, stretch glass was created at the time when American buyers’ tastes were moving away from ’busy’, elaborate accessories (Victorian-era items, pattern glass, etc) to favor more simple, streamlined, “back to nature” items. We were transitioning from the Craftsman to Art Deco style. The Fenton brothers and others were influenced by Tiffany and Steuben who were producing blown iridized glass without impressed patterns.
Stretch glass is often referred to as “poor man’s Tiffany” and was primarily “gift glass” – so it might be viewed as a luxury, but not in the same category as a piece of Tiffany glass. Many of the items made were decorative – candleholders, console bowls, vases, comports, etc. While there were lots of useful items made, sets of dinnerware were not made and items such as goblets and cups and saucers must have been made in very limited quantities (or had a high breakage rate) because they are quite difficult to find today. As for whether much of the stretch glass was exported to the UK, I don’t know about that. Maybe one of my fellow stretch glass researchers will chime in on that question. Stretch glass production ceased in the early 1930s as the American (and world) economies went into depression and Fenton joined other glass companies in producing relatively lower cost, tableware which required little or no re-shaping and no iridizing.
To Pat, Thanks for sharing the Northwood candleholders with gold gilt trim. Some stretch glass was decorated with gold; stretch glass was also decorated with black paint, white paint, green paint and a small number of pieces had painted designs on them. Here is a Topaz plate with painted flowers. Northwood also did some elaborate gold and black decorating on a few pieces which we believe to be either special order or samples due to the limited number of them which have been found.
To Kathi and Galen, thanks for sharing about your interest in stretch glass. The Chesterfield pitchers and tumblers are beautiful pieces and I’m sure there will be lots of ohs and ahs for your red pitcher and tumbler. Some of the Chesterfield pitchers also have covers like these in shiny marigold. Adams Rib is also a great set to have. You should watch for the matching candy jar, comports and most of all the bowl – the bowl is very rare and would be a great find.
You are correct in observing that the lack of a current price guide makes it challenging to know what stretch glass to buy and how much to pay for it. We are hoping that we can expand the stretch glass included in Doty’s prices to address some of this ‘mystery.’ And we are looking forward to having access to more stretch glass auction results going forward. Candlesticks are generally a safe bet because there are so many collectors for them. Stretch glass with dolphin “handles” is also quite popular with collectors, but it is not all “rare” as is so often claimed on eBay. I’ll think about whether there is a way to provide some insights into what to be on the lookout for when it comes to stretch glass.
Fenton re-introduced stretch glass (at the urging of several Stretch Glass Society members, btw) around 1970 and it was a staple for them until ca. 2010. Most – I think it is fair to say, the vast majority – of the contemporary stretch glass was marked with the Fenton logo in use at the time it was made during this time. A few pieces do show up with a mark so light that it is almost non-existent or no mark at all. Some have suggested that Fenton did not mark some of the ‘seconds’ that they sold. We will probably never know why a few unmarked pieces made it into the world. Generally the contemporary stretch glass is heavier than the vintage glass and for the most part Fenton avoided making the same items in the same colors as had been made originally. For example, Fenton made contemporary Ruby twin dolphin fan vases; to the best of my knowledge no vintage Ruby twin dolphin fan vases are known to have been made. There are exceptions to the practice, of course. Both vintage and contemporary Velva Rose 8½” “Colonial” candlesticks exist. The vintage ones are harder to find and are a slightly different color. At some point, we should devote an evening or two to discussing the contemporary stretch glass made by Fenton.
BTW, there was one other recent production of iridized glass which sometimes appears to be stretch glass. This glass was made in Germany in the 1960s or 1970s. It is known in Cobalt, Dark Green, Amber and Ruby. This glass will always have a polished circular area on the bottom of the item. This is NOT stretch glass, it is art glass. Vases, plates and bowls were made so be on the lookout for it. Here are a few pictures of the items they made.
And now, let's do some mail...
From: Carl B. (Indiana)
To: Brian, Galen, Cal
Re: Stretch Glass
Eunice and I have several pieces of stretch glass in our collection. We're attaching a picture of our five old punch cups. Hopefully the colors are obvious. The other two pictures show our two cigarette boxes. The marigold one has enameling on the lid. The blue one has an etched flower. We also have a nice collection of Fenton's nut cups and arched flute toothpick holders (or pen holders). We'll see if we can send some picture of those items a bit later.
Thanks, Cal, for your efforts in helping educate us in the stretch glass area. We're looking forward to more explanations and pictures.
From: Barb C.
We have two stretch glass chop plates. I'm pretty sure that the vaseline (topaz) one is Northwood. I believe William Heacock once gave a name to this pattern as Barbella. The celeste (I know, not the stretch name) looks to be Imperial. Both are almost 12". The celeste has 15 panels. On the Shetlar stretch glass site, a 15" one has only 14 panels, so I'm not sure.
Thanks for any help you may give. These will probably be in the display room at the ICGA convention that takes place July 13 - 16, 2016 at the Blue Gate Inn in Shipshewana, IN. We would like to invite everyone to attend. Check out our website at www.internationalcarnivalglass.com.
From: Lance Hilkene
I want to thank everyone for sharing their knowledge of iridescent glass in the newsletter. Cal, I have enjoyed your articles on Stretch Glass and after selling a 250 piece collection a few years ago I still have pieces that I would find extremely hard to part with. I am enclosing photos of two of the pieces I refer to.
First this is probably the only one known unless someone out there has another I am unaware of. It is a spatula footed bowl in Wisteria (Amethyst) by Northwood. it has three spatula feet and a rolled down edge with the typical onion skin affect. What makes this interesting is the outside base has the start of the Meander pattern used by Northwood on some of their carnival patterns. The bowl is 8 1/2” in diameter and approx. 3 1/4’ tall.
Second is a Fenton rose bowl with a crimped edge in Topaz. what makes this piece interesting and in my opinion a rare one is it’s size. it is 7” tall and 7” across. it rests on a hexagonalbase 4 5/8” wide There are 12 fluted panels around the circumferenceof the piece. Quite a heavy piece of glass. Yes it is unmarked.
Both of these pieces go very well with my carnival glass collection. Cal thank you for the time you are giving us in educating all on the beautiful stretch glass pieces that are out there. I agree with Galen that a price guide would really help the collector but since there are a lot of measuring to do and remembering pattern numbers it would be a monumental task and updating such a list would be even more difficult since a good number of auctioneers wouldn’t know how or have the time to list a piece of stretch correctly. Of course an Imperial chesterfield red water pitcher or tumbler is rare and costly to buy because it is easily identified and red is a desirable color. Also I believe all of Fenton’s stretch reissues are signed sometimes hard to locate the Fenton in a circle trademark so one should look for a trademark before buying it for old.
From: Tony D
Would like some help on identifying these two pieces of stretch. Left-hand picture I think may be Imperial but know nothing beyond that. The piece on the right is a chop plate 13 3/4 across -- know nothing except I liked it.
From: Sandy and Bob Sage
Cal, thanks so much for sharing your time and knowledge of Iridescent Stretch Glass with us this week. It is greatly appreciated!
I did not have any time to write in earlier this week so I hope it is not too late to share some photos of our Stretch Glass.
Imperial Double Scroll Console Bowl and Candlesticks - we have two of these, one in marigold and one in red. Both of these sets were gifts from Bob's mother, Dolores, a long-time Carnival Glass collector. The marigold set is a bit harder to find because of the swirl effect.
Fenton Ring Optic vases - we have three. The Tangerine one was our first and was purchased from John Rogers at one of the SSCGA conventions in Florida. We absolutely love this vase as does everyone who sees it. The other two colors are, I think, Florentine Green and Aquamarine. The blue one was purchased at a HOACGA convention from Wally McDaniel and the green one we purchased at a Wroda Auction.
We love Stretch Glass and have quite a number of other pieces in our collection.
Sandy and Bob Sage