Pressed Fruit Basket - Date and Attribution

Opalescent Ribbon Compote (30K)

Glass scholar Kenneth Wilson seems to have been surprised when he noted that "little has been published on transitional pressed glass" — the class of mostly ornamental tableware to which this fruit basket belongs, a class referred to by collectors as "Colored Flint." The word "transitional" draws attention to a decade or more (circa 1837-1850) in which the capabilities of glass presses and molds were extended to produce not just the flat or broad open vessels typical of the lacy period (such as these and this) but also the deeper, narrower and even concave-bodied tumblers, vases and decanters required for a table service. The first such services appeared around 1850 heralding the era of what is now called "pressed pattern glass."

While the McKearins provided a classification of the vases, lamps and candlesticks of transitional pressed glass, they acknowledged that the result was less complete than their work on flasks and mold blown tableware. Along with many less significant omissions, the absence of fruit baskets suggests that they were unaware of them, possibly due to their great rarity.

The openwork of the basket places it in a direct lineage from lacy pressed glass with open handles and elaborate openwork borders. This, together with the familiarity of the form in contemporary porcelain, suggests that this fruit basket may have been made around 1840 among the more ambitious, early products of transitional pressed glass. Adding weight to the early date, its hexagonal base appears in somewhat unlikely combination with a lacy period dish — designed to carry a cover — to form compotes that oddly blend design elements of two periods.

As for attribution, these fruit baskets were made either in the Boston area or at Sandwich on Cape Cod.

American Glass, 1760-1930. 2 Volumes
Kenneth Wilson.
The Toledo Museum of Art, 1994.
Wilson's discussion of "Transitional Pressed Glass" is on pages 278-280. The above quote is from footnote 56 on page 284.
American Glass
George S. McKearin and Helen M. McKearin.
Crown, 1941.
The McKearins' discussion and classification of transitional pressed candlesticks, lamps and vases is on pages 381-393 including plates 197-204.
Sandwich Glass: The History of the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company
Ruth Webb Lee.
Self Published: Northborough, Massachusetts, Fifth Edition, 1947.
The first edition of this book, appearing in 1939, included one of the earliest published pictures of these fruit baskets, the pair that artist Channing Hare subsequently donated to the Bennington Museum (plate 153 and page 398).