Hand blown and hand tooled flower paper weight in amethyst manganese glass from the mid to late 1800s. The short trumpet-shaped flower may depict an orchid. This glass `what-not' from the long ago days of hand blown glass is made from two pieces and probably was used as a paper weight. The actual color of the glass is closest to the first and third photos because it does not have a pink hue, but rather it is amethyst purple. Also, there are no maker's marks or engraved names on the base, which is expected for an off-hand object. Off-hand simply means that the object was not mass produced and is simply one-of-a-kind. Still, there are some characteristics that help tell us more about this piece.
It is hand made. The thickness of the gather of glass used to make the flower section suggests that the glass blower was likely proficient in blowing heavy bottles rather than delicate tableware. There are bubbles in the gather also suggesting a bottle manufacturer rather than quality table glass. The simple pad base is rather crude and unsophisticated and further reinforces this opinion, however similar pad bases occur on more sophisticated paper weights of the New England Glass Company dating from 1860 to 1875 period (see note below). In any event, it is not unreasonable to speculate that this flower was made by a glass blower at the end of the day with the same tools and glass materials used for blowing and finishing heavy grayish-clear glass bottles. Of course, the grayish-clear glass has since turned violet-amethyst in reaction to years of sunlight and ultraviolet rays. The use of manganese oxide to offset and mask the greens and blues created by natural impurities in sand sources was commonly applied to producing glass bottles after about 1880 to meet the demand for clear food and beverage containers. This flower probably dates from the last 20 years of the 1800s, although it could also be another 20 years or so older (c1860.or so).
As such, this flower paper weight dates from the last 40 years of the 1800s and is American. I have recently run across glass fruit paper weights from the New England Glass Company, Cambridge, Massachusetts that have the same pad-like base to seat glass apples, pears, etc., made in the 1860 to 1875 period (see Spillman 1983 Vol. 2: page 242 for two examples). The flower listed here is less refined than the NEGC fruit and may simply be a knock-off produced by another glass maker using the same general style. A study of this piece indicates how it was made. The flower section is formed and worked from a slightly inflated gather that was then sheared at one end and pinched closed at the blow pipe end. The sheared edge was fire polished and worked to create a thickened rim. This thickened rim was subsequently worked and tooled further using an iron pucellas or steel jack to create the pincered and ruffled outer edge of the flower. There are indents along the flower rim that were created by squeezing the hot malleable glass between the ends of a steel jack about a dozen times. After the flower was formed and finished, the last step involved adding the pad base by placing a thick drop of glass on the sand coated surface of a marver and flattening the glass. The flower portion was then embedded in the top of the base and then the completed object was removed, properly annealed and cooled. After one recognizes all the steps needed to create this object, one can better appreciate the craftsmanship and effort. It is also nice to see an object not tainted by colored slag glass pieces, but made of simple clear glass that has turned amethyst over many years. If you collect old end-of-the-day pieces or antique hand blown glass, then you may certainly want to consider acquiring this antique piece while it is still available. And as always, this old hand blown glass flower also comes with a full satisfaction guarantee or return it for a refund (see return policy below for full details, certain shipping costs & fees are nonrefundable).
SIZE: This glass object weighs a little under one pound (about 14 ounces) and stands a maximum 3 1/2 inches tall. The flower measures a maximum 4 7/8 inches across. The base is not perfectly round and measures about 3 1/8 inches across. The flower is an interesting artifact that displays well in most any setting.
CONDITION: This glass flower is in excellent condition with no chips, star cracks, hairlines, breaks, major scratches, stains, repairs or restorations. The only declarations to mention are some pockets of grime and dirt that have collected in cavities and the pincered indents (could be cleaned with a cotton swab or fine brush) over the centuries and some wear on the base, as expected. A nice piece of antique glass that is at least 110 years old.
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Item ID: RL452.a1198
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