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Designer collector

I absolutely adored the Venini / Carlo Scarpa exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum (November 5, 2013 - March 2, 2014). It once again demonstrated that the most successful new designs come from a deep love of the past.

The bottle above belonged to Paolo Venini. It is part of a small collection inherited by his daughter Laura and that found its way to America after she married an American.

Plagiarism, Victorian Style

Pity the poor prolific author-illustrator, so successful yet full of the belief that her art deserves better than to be turned into mere merchandize!

No wonder, then, that these vases are the result of plagiarism rather than authorized products created under the artist's own artistic control, adding to her wealth and encouraging her to produce even more.

Differences that make a difference?

Two early pressed salt dishes show that even heavily collected glass keeps on revealing new and unexpected varieties.

Early pressed glass salt dishes form one of the most attractive groups in early American molded glass.

Getting every detail right

Part of the curse of esoteric knowledge about the decorative arts is that it can distract you during even the finest historical movies. You bring deep-rooted expectations to the movie — expecting glassware like this — and almost gag at what glass is shown in its place.

This evening we marveled as Daniel Day Lewis brought Abraham Lincoln to life in Stephen Spielberg's latest masterpiece. They are both geniuses. But why on earth did the production designer choose that glassware, with heavily gilded rims, totally wrong forms and probably made in the 20th Century? And why, if they knew they were guessing, would the director feature it so prominently?

Persistent and pervasive

This decanter helps teach the most important lesson required for a collector of early cut glass—that patterns alone are an unreliable guide for either dating or attributing cut glass.

It is cut in one of the most attractive and highly sought after patterns seen on 1830s American cut glass—broad S-shaped scrolls linked together by polished circles. Yet when I bought it, I knew that something strange was going on.

A central solution

Subtle differences between the centers of two miniature drawer pulls reveal how a mold maker solved a tricky problem — creating a mold with a fixed volume, to be filled with varying quantities of glass.

Pressed glass knobs play a special role in glass history.

Shut and cut

It took American inventors over thirty years to advance glass pressing to the point where it was capable of this. At 9 inches tall and 7½ inches in diameter, and made by the New England Glass Company circa 1869, it is the largest pitcher pressed before 1880.

Why did it take so long?

An accidental beauty

A simple 7 1/2" tall chestnut-shaped blown bottle shows that an object's glass itself can make the object stand out from the crowd.

A coinundrum

The tightly sealed, hollow stem of a small cream jug presents collectors from two different fields with quite a problem — no less than a coinundrum

Trapped within is a rare, nearly uncirculated 1831 United States five cent coin, known to collectors as a "capped bust half dime."

To substitute or deceive?

An odd looking sugar bowl, bearing a distant family resemblance to the rare mold blown masterpieces of 1820s New England, was a welcome substitute for collectors of lesser means in the 1930s, and was put onto the market for that very purpose.

However, the same cannot be said for this bowl:

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