Friday, August 5, 2016

Two Mysteries Solved: Blenko and Sandwich

The hobby of glass identification can have some interesting twists and turns. The other day I mentioned the two kinds of glass I love and collect, Blenko and Early American Pattern Glass. Now I've run into yet another type of early, early American glass: Sandwich. Take this bottle:

 I found it at a thrift shop, for $1.00. I started to just put it back because it really didn't look like anything special, and it was rough inside the top rim.

But the pontil on the bottom intrigued me.

That rough circle on the bottom of glass means handblown, but the pattern and shape confused me. It was really dirty too. Well, I spent the dollar, and the bottle has been around here for a few months with me looking at it and trying to figure it out.

Finally I posted some photos to a Ball jar collectors group on Facebook; even though these weren't bottle people, there are some very knowledgeable people in the group and I hoped one of them could steer me in the right direction, to a bottle group, but first gave me some starting information to work with. Ah, the intricacies of Facebook! In the bottle group, I learned that what I have is an American Three-Mold Blown Decanter, most likely blown at Boston & Sandwich Glass around 1850. For more about this glass, the museum's website is a great resource. Apparently each mold used for glass production at the Sandwich factory had a number assigned, so now I am hunting for the number of the mold for me piece.

That roughness inside the rim? Sometimes a piece was damaged by its owner so the top was cut down and ground, as happened with my bottle. Pretty clever, I'm thinking. So, one mystery solved. A group member just happened to have a lot of stoppers for these old decanters so maybe I'll be able to show a photo of it all together soon.

Will I become a collector of this glass too? Probably not, but I have learned about something else to look for, and I do believe I might have a couple other pieces of Sandwich in my collection that I have not yet tried to identify. More fun ahead!

The second mystery involved this ash tray:

I thought when I bought it that it was Blenko glass, made in Milton, WV. I've visited their factory a couple times, and have built a pretty nice collection, mostly of pieces found while thrifting. But the Blenko Facebook group said no,this ashtray was not Blenko because they didn't make that coloration. Then yesterday a member found an ashtray very like mine...with the Blenko sticker still attached! It was identified as made from the glass used to make the rare "Rialto" items at Blenko. I was excited but kinda bummed because I had just recently sold the one I had on eBay for a fairly low price. I posted my photo again to the group, and once again...sigh...was told it was not Blenko because the shape is wrong. So I was no longer bummed, and I am still excited because I am hoping one day I'll come upon one of the real Blenko Rialto glass ashtrays. I probably won't buy it to keep, since I don't collect the ashtrays, but it would be fun to just see one in the wild, as we say when we find good glass in some out-of-the-way thrift shop.

The learning continues. The one basic truth I have discovered about glass collecting is that I will never learn all there is to know about the wide, deep and fascinating subject.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Steve Ferendo said...

Always learning and exercising my many dormant brain cells when I visit your blog. Thank you.

Quinn said...

I've often heard of Sandwich Glass and associated it with the Cape, but that's all I "knew" - very interesting link! Thanks :)

Rowan said...

Glass is a mystery to me as well, I know that I like some of the old pressed glass pieces from the 1930s but the one or two pieces I own are inherited and kept for sentimental reasons.

Granny Sue said...

I don't think I will ever learn enough about glass to be an expert! But now I am on the lookout for the Sandwich glass. Like you, Quinn, I'd heard of it but didn't really understand what it was.

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