This is a large mushroom shaped stopper in Italian Millefiori glass that was hand made in the early 1900s. It has a hand ground Satin finish created by mechanical grinding and buffing rather than using hydrofluoric acid to remove the surface sheen. Burmese Glass, on the other hand is an example of a glass type that is often given a satin finish using acid.
The stopper offered here is Millefiori glass composed of slices of ornate glass canes that have been reheated and bonded together to form a sheet that was then placed over a hand made stopper. The result is cased glass with the Millefiori pattern is made up a thin sheet of densely packed ornate canes. The result is impressive and the dozens of different small cane slices are captivating and create unique complexity.
One company that produced mechanically ground Satin finishes on Millefiori glass was the firm of Fratelli Toso in Murano between about 1910 and 1940, although the company also has a history extending back in the 1800s. Murano is an Italian island located off shore but near Venice where glass makers plied their trade starting back more than 400 years ago. The island setting offered protection from plundering armies as well as a way to contain fires from threatening urban Venice since glass makers were notorious for starting them by accident.
Most Millefiori stoppers produced in the last 70 years have either ball shaped tops or or spire shaped tops and are not flattened like this one. The mushroom shape of this stopper (see Photos) is more akin to those produced of the mid 1800s (the 1850s era) than those produced since 1945. And as noted, this stopper dates to the early 1900s. It has a solid glass core formed from a globular gather of clear glass with a slight yellowish hue typical of nonleaded soda glass. The hot gather of glass was about the same size as the typical paper weight of the last 170 years. The clear glass core was heated again and then covered with a thin sheet of Millefiori glass while the stopper was reworked again to fuse the two parts together. This step required great skill and technical expertise to accomplish. And one can observe at the end of the ground stopper plug, the layering of the thin sheet of Millefiori canes encasing the solid glass core (see Photos 6 and 7).
After the bonding was complete and the Millefiori sheet encased the entire glass stopper core, the glass worker still had to create the Satin finish and also grind the plug end of the stopper so that it perfectly fit its intended companion bottle or decanter. Unlike creating the Satin finish, the grinding of the plug end was done by hand by inserting the plug into the neck of its accompanying vessel along with some mineral grit and turning it until the fit matched perfectly. Often, this last step created concentric rings on the plug and on the inside of the neck of the decanter when the mineral grit contained some coarser particles.
The last two Photos show this stopper in use in an 1850 pillar molded decanter (see Photo 8) and then subsequently with this stopper placed next to the clear glass stopper that belongs with the pillar molded decanter. As Photo 9 reveals, the two stopper are both mushroom shaped with the 1850 stopper being even larger than the c1910 Millefiori stopper.
The maximum diameter of the plug end of this Millefiori stopper is just under 5/8 inches. The inside diameter of the pillar molded decanter neck is about 3/4 inches and so in order to seat the stopper properly, a rubber band was wrapped around the plug end. The rubber band can be seen in both Photos 8 and 9 if one looks closely at the plug section. And so if one wanted to use this decorative Millefiori stopper in another glass bottle or decanter and the neck was also too wide, then wrapping the end of the stopper with tape or a rubber band will often do the trick.
Last of all, older examples of Millefiori decorated Murano bottles and decanters are typically very costly with prices varying from $1,400 (for a decanter by Gundersen), to over $4,000 (for a bottle by Gulio Radi; as well as another bottle by Ansolo Fuga; See Warman’s Glass, 4th edition from 2002, pages 286-287). So if you have one of those Millefiori items lacking a stopper, then you just might have hit the Lottery. However, this stopper also looks great all by itself when placed on a shelf, in a cabinet or pretty much anywhere glassware is easily displayed and will certainly delight a glass stopper or decanter collector. So do consider purchasing this stopper while it is still available. And considering the price asked here, we also anticipate that someone will be very happy to snatch it up, especially since it also comes with a full satisfaction guarantee or return it for a refund (must have all security details intact and certain shipping costs & fees are nonrefundable).
SIZE: This stopper is 3 1/8 inches tall and has a maximum diameter of about 2 3/8 inches across its flattened top. The plug end is slightly less than 5/8 inches across (maximum diameter), however one might still need to add a rubber band or a piece of tape to seat it properly at just the right height when placed in another particular bottle or decanter.
CONDITION: This stopper has no damage or chips and no cracks, hairlines, star cracks, stains, major scratches, repairs or restorations. It also has no major production flaws. A better example would be hard to find today especially since this stopper shape seems to be very scarce.
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