|Vol. 13 September 2003|
|Blenko, Winslow and
Mid Century American
|In the beginning,
there was just sand
Many people are aware of Blenko Glass and its history due to the PBS specials by Witek & Novak. In the 1920s, William Blenko, after many failures, found his formula for their famous ruby color to be used in the creation of their stain glass. He felt that he had found it and named the company Eureka Art Glass Co. in Milton, WV. The name was changed to Blenko Glass Company in 1930.
Blenko used, and continues to use today, the European style six-man shop for making their glass. Because of this “Old World” craftsmanship, Colonial Williamsburg contacted them in 1936 about creating glass reproductions in the same style and colors discovered in the historical area
Hello, everyone and welcome to autumn! In a tribute to the season known for its color, our September issue is full of wonderful colored glass by the masters of color, Blenko. This well researched article is written by GPSA member and Blenko collector bpprat. Some of the information provided here was garnered through personal interviews with Bill Blenko as well as many of the master designers at Blenko.
As bpprat states in the article, there is a great deal of glass being sold as Blenko on eBay. This thorough article will help you identify true Blenko glass.
I took off my editor's hat for a little while this month to share one of my favorite collectibles with you this month. Interest is growing in Victorian Sentiment China. I've shared a few of my favorite peices with you. I hope you like them!
Our "Don't You Wish You Had One of These?" column has taken a little bit of a different turn this month - check it out!
If You Enjoy . . .
reading the GPSA Gazette, please subscribe below. No sales person will call (no spam will clutter your inbox either)! Do you know someone who might enjoy our newsletters? Feel free to send them a link!
are the property of the author of each article unless credited elsewhere.
|Blenko 1930 – 1946
Back Row #390 Ruby , #68 Sky Blue
Center Row #37 Sky Blue Crackle, #327 Tangerine Chimney Highball Glass, #384H Sky Blue (rare) Handled Water Bottle
Front Row # 375 Amber Vase, #384 Tangerine Water Bottle
|Besides using the hand blown Blenko glass in the
displays, reproduction pieces,were also sold as souvenirs until the
contract was cancelled in 1966. Many of those pieces are in
Numbers in order of their design designated the earlier Blenko pieces. The current numbering system includes the year of design and the model number. An example of this is: 5929S where 59 represents 1959, 29 the model number of year, and the trailing letter is a designation particular to that piece. There are a few exceptions to the rule, particularly the year 1950, a 9 represents the year 1950.
|The Depression of the 30s had a profound effect on Blenko. There was a decrease in the use of stain glass in the US and a new market was needed to keep the company alive. Because of this, the focus shifted to tableware. The change from stain glass production required the addition of glass blowers. Among those employed at Blenko was Carl Erickson who was the founder of Erickson Glassworks in Ohio. Blenko, with its stained glass colored tableware, was now beginning to gain acceptance and recognition in the home marketplace. Soon, things were really going to “take off” with the hiring of Winslow Anderson.|
Back Row #967 Chartreuse Flat Pitcher, #535 Amethyst Pouch Vase
Center Row #964 Emerald Horn Vase
Front Row #538 Tangerine Rose Bowl, #948 Jonquil Decanter (Museum of Modern Art – Good Design Award)
A Special Note to GPSA Members
As our organization grows, we have begun to formalize many of the informal processes that have served our organization in the past.
We have published guidelines regarding our discussion page and are currently working on updating membership rosters.
If you haven't checked in at the GPSA discussion page in a while, come on by and see what's new.
Not a Member?
Apply for membership using the form at the bottom of this page!
|Winslow Anderson –
First Designer, 1946 – 1952
William Blenko Sr., realizing the need for a designer to continue the process of new and creative designs, hired Winslow Anderson to Blenko. Winslow had just graduated from Alfred University with a major in ceramic design. Familiar only with the flow and curves of his ceramic designs, he created a line of glass that was beyond the dreams of Blenko. This post-war America, eager for new and modern designs, flocked to Blenko Glass. Winslow told me that he had no idea that what he was designing had not been done in glass. If you study and look at his designs, you will almost always find a curve or a look that is reminiscent of the water and sailboats he grew up around.
Winslow worked with the shop to design his visions. He has an eye for letting glass take its own form. His bent neck decanter (#948) was a result of an accident. The neck of a #920 decanter had gotten too hot and bent over. When he saw it, he realized the design qualities. He stopped it from being discarded, attached a handle and a new stopper and it became the famous #948. This great eye created a decanter that was awarded the Good Design award from the Museum of Modern Art. This decanter is still often imitated but not equaled in style and quality.
The famous Blenko horn vase was created to fill a need in the line. There were other vases, but Winslow believed that a vase was needed with a low profile to serve as a centerpiece. He let the glass flow to a natural shape and the horn was created. He devised a tool to cut off the hot glass for the opening and required that the tail of the vase extend no higher than the top of the opening. He wanted a smooth and gentle flow. Even today, if he is asked to sign a horn vase and it is not how he designed it (after he left, the tails of the horn were often higher than he designed), he will not sign it.
|Two other of his designs that I would like to mention are the #967 flat pitcher and the #538 rose bowl. He had designed other pitchers but wanted to create a new look. He told a worker to blow a basic pitcher and then to flatten the sides. Winslow told me this was one of his favorite designs, especially in the color Chartreuse. The #538 rose bowl with all of the 30 hand formed crimps reflecting the light is one of my favorites. There is a new decanter being designed for the Blenko Collector’s Society. After being away from designing a piece for Blenko for 50 years, Winslow has designed a new 36-inch decanter.|
|Wayne Husted – Designer of 50s Icons: 1952 –
Can lightning strike in the same glass company two times in a row (actually 3, but that is a different story)? Yes it can if it is Alfred University. Winslow resigned to go to work for Lennox Crystal and Blenko again contacted Alfred University for a new designer to keep up with innovations in their designs. It is the 50s; America after the war is creating new living standards, and Blenko asks what can we do to glass to make people want to buy it? Wayne takes vases, bottles, and decanters to a new level with his “Big Ass Blenko”. What do you do with a 36” or 42” decanter? NOTHING but look at it! The biggest, the best, and the most outrageous designs come from Wayne in the 50s. In addition to the large pieces, he also introduced a line of miniature vases and pitchers as well as regular size pieces.
Wayne added color to the catalogs, designed a new logo and added specialty lines. The Regal and the Rialto lines drew the attention of the public to Blenko. Besides just Bigger is Better, these lines were and are a sensational hit with the public. A third line, called Raindrop, which did not go over very well, today commands a high price. A small 6-inch vase can cost $300. From the summer of 1958 – 1961, Blenko sandblasted their logo name on each piece. Before and after this, you need to know the designer’s work or hope that a sticker is still in place to readily identify a piece.
JFK and Jackie were in the White House and so was Blenko. A color called Rose was so liked by Jackie, that she included it in her decorations in the White House. Today, this color commands a premium among Blenko collectors. Wayne is still active in designs. He has a few new pieces in the Blenko line this year and more are planned for the future. As far as the Rose color making a comeback, Mr. Blenko said that the color has been officially retired and will not be used again.
Back Row #558 Sea Green Hi Heel Bowl, Scarce
Front #5413 Sea Green , Rare – 8 known to exist, short production due to difficulty
|Wayne Husted (Decanters and
Back Row #5929S Tangerine – Floor, #6030 Floor Vase 6217 Tangerine Fish
Center Row #6218 Tangerine Omnibus Sun, #5928 Persian Blue (Rare)
Front Row #6310 Rose Decanter, #6210 Jonquil Decanter
|The Rest: 1963 –
After Wayne Husted left, Blenko continued to look for innovation by recruiting new designers. In order after Wayne: Joel Myers (one of the leaders of the studio glass movement), John Nickerson (a noted glass blower and designer, also contributing to the 2003 Blenko designs), Don Shepherd (deceased), Hank Adams and Matt Carter. Today, Blenko is bringing back and reuniting some of their old designers to give birth to new and innovative designs. As one of the few remaining hand blowing glass companies in WV, their heritage is important to all who love American design, glass and the 50s.
Ebay and Blenko
Blenko is one of the “hottest” glass listings on Ebay. Because of this I feel that a warning needs to be issued. Many sellers will list a piece of glass and call it Blenko and it is NOT. Because of the great publicity Blenko received on PBS, many people think that if it is hand blown it must be Blenko. There are others that play on the Blenko name to sell their product. Some have even put Chinese glass made recently on and call it “Blenko’ style. Be careful what you invest in. Do research, ask, and learn. If you are interested, a Blenko’s Collector’s Society has been formed to help educate and promote Blenko glass. Please see the address in the reference section.
Back Row #5410 Charcoal w/ Crystal Tail Swan Vase, #598M Nile Green Vase
Center Row TO Rialto
Front Row #6115 Jonquil Vase, #6322 Green Clover Vase, #5422 Charcoal
(John Nickerson, Joel Meyers, Don Shepherd, Hank Adams, Matt Cater)
Back Row #7415 Pine w/ Crystal stopper- John Nickerson, 1970 – 1975 #6528S Tangerine 24” Decanter - Joel Meyers, 1963 - 1970
Center Row #1602 Design Studio Vase - Matt Carter, 1995 – 2002
Front Row # 9365 Violet Pitcher - Hank Adams, 1988 - 1995
#828M Antique Green and Tangerine, Balloon Vase - Don Shepherd, 1975 - 1988
Blenko Glass 1930 – 1953, Eason Eige and Rick Wilson (Out of Print)
Blenko Cool ‘50s & ‘ 60s Glass, Leslie Pina, Schiffer Books
Blenko Glass 1962 – 1971 Catalogs, Leslie Pina, Schiffer Books
Blenko 1972 – 1983 Catalogs, Leslie Pina, Schiffer Books
Blenko Catalogs Then and Now (1959 – 1961 1984 – 2001), Leslie Pina, Schiffer Books
Personal Interviews – Winslow Anderson, Wayne Husted, John Nickerson, and Bill Blenko – 2002
Blenko Collector's Society
|Plate of the Month|
| As compared to Meissen and the
makers at Dresden, the lesser known, but equally prestigious German
porcelain makers at Nymphenburg, created porcelain of great
In 1747, the potter Ignaz Niedermeyer established a porcelain works with the support and patronage of Prince-Elector Max III Joseph of Bavaria. Early successes with production created larger quarters, and the factory was eventually moved to the Nymphenburg Palace in Munich, hence the name.
After a series of change of name and ownership, the Royal Porcelain Manufactory Nymphenburg emerged. After 1895 the mark included a shield and the word Nymphenburg that is found in both blue and green under glaze and is among the most common found today.
Many modelers and painters who were influenced by production at Sevres contributed to the artistic production of figures and tableware’s created with an Art Nouveau and Biedermeir influence.
There is representation of fine Nymphenburg porcelains in the collections of museums including The Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, Toronto, Canada, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
This exquisite cabinet plate, measuring 8” 3/8” has many of the design elements that make porcelain so beautiful. Graceful, rococo molding and gilt trimmed fish-scale painting swirl around the reticulated deep cobalt blue cavetto. Pretty and ethereal gold floral tracery swags add a touch of softness, to the edgework, and the center bouquet, comprised of shaded spring and summer flowers are just exquisite against the pristine white ground. Like fantasy Coalport, Sevres and Meissen, this porcelain plate is truly a work of art. Nymphenburg porcelains are rare to find, and this example is representative of the richness of design and high quality, which make it highly sought after collectible.
|A Sentimental Journey with
Victorian Sentiment China
|Victorian Sentiment China is a
growing collectible in today’s market. The name is something of a
misnomer. This type of china was indeed made during the Victorian
era, but was popular from then through the 1930’s. It is
recognizable by its cheery mottoes found on shaving mugs, cups, plates,
miniature pitchers and other china items.
Much of the china was produced in Germany with English sayings for the American market. It was a popular gift to give as token of affection to a lover, friend or relative.
The most common saying found on Victorian Sentiment China is “Remember Me.” This phrase often leads to confusion about the original use of the piece. Many people, when first encountering a piece marked “Remember Me,” mistakenly believe it is a memorial piece for someone who had died.
While the Victorians were known for their mourning jewelry and clothing, these items are not part of that tradition. “Remember Me” is just one of the many sentimental phrases found on these gift items. Other phrases include “Think of Me”, “For a Friend” and “Forget Me Not.”
Many eBay sellers do not know what to call their items, so finding this china may take more than just entering the phrase Victorian Sentiment China into the eBay search field. A recent search in the Pottery & Glass category for the phrase “Think of Me” yielded seven completed items. “Remember Me” produced another eight Victorian Sentiment pieces. (A china pattern called Remember Me also shows up in that search, so you may need to sort through those if you decide to search with that phrase.)
This is not currently an expensive collectible, with most pieces going for about $8 to $18, and mustache cups going slightly higher. Should you consider beginning a collection, read descriptions carefully. The gold on these items is frequently faded, making them less desirable for display.
As interest in this category grows, prices will begin to climb. If these appeal to you, this may be the time to pick up these sweet, sentimental pieces.
large mugs with mottoes on the side opposite the handle, as is common on
these pieces. The mug on the right is an older Victorian era mug
with raised lettering that nearly encircles the entire
Mottoes: To My Dear Friend
motif on the cup (right) echoes the design of the little pitcher
above. The kitty and pup are pictured in little pitchers with
Think of Me
Forget Me Not
Think of Me.
mustache mug (left) and a large mug with cherubs in relief
Love the Giver
teacups with saucers and a child's cup (center). The cup on the
right is typical of the 1930's era German cups with heavy ornamentation
From A Friend
Forget Me Not
all sentiment pieces are china. Here's an example of a glass piece
with ruby flashing, fired-on white paint and gold
|Floyd's Coffee Mug
Don't You Wish You Had One of These?
haven't gone completely off our rockers here at GPSA. It's true that
we usually feature items in this column that have attained high sales
prices on eBay. But we think the story of Floyd's mug makes it, as
the commercials say, priceless.
Floyd's wife is eBay seller vpretz. She reported on the GPSA discussion board that Floyd had chipped his favorite mug, (pictured above) which he had owned since approximately 1978. Although, as vpretz reported, he "took it like a man," she knew he was upset by the loss of his favorite coffee mug.
GPSA members began hunting for the mug and within 24 hours, fellow GPSA member marketpl had found the mug for $5 on eBay. Vpretz will be giving Floyd the new mug for his birthday this month. No, it's not a $10,000 piece of pottery, but we're betting Floyd will think it's worth way more than that!
Isn't eBay fun?
|The following eBay sellers became
GPSA members this month. As
members of the GPSA, they have committed to upholding
the standards of the
Glass & Pottery Sellers' Association
|To learn more about GPSA, click on one of these
Listing of All GPSA Members
|Don't want to miss an issue?
Enter your e-mail address to
subscribe to our monthly newsletter!
Fostoria American, Chintz Plate, Pig Banks
Candlewick, American Sweetheart, Dresden Plate, $16k Carnival Glass
Shawnee Minis, Dresden MA Plate, Eggs in Your Computer
Children's Dishes, Cut Glass, Russian Plate
Dryden, Green Depression, More Salts
|Do you have an idea that you would like to share?
A suggestion for a future article?
If so, please e-mail us at G_P_S_A@hotmail.com
Amberina, Figural Planters, Frankoma
Active Members Page Glossary
GPSA Newsletter Photo Tips Packaging Tips
Pottery Links Pottery ID Pottery Books Glass Links Glass Books