Decanter with Stopper
Decanter with Stopper
Marlboro St. Glass House, Justus Perry and Associates (attributed to)
Blown lead glass
10 5/8 x 4 5/8 inches
Wichita Art Museum, Gift of George E. Vollmer, Lillian George American Glass Collection
Not Currently on Display
About the Artwork
This decanter with its matching blown stopper is a fine example of clear, colorless lead glass, blown in a three-mold process. Although three glass houses were known to have produced this pattern, it seems likely that this decanter was made at the Marlboro St. Glass House, Justus Perry and Associates, Keene, New Hampshire. The provenance is from Mary Lyman whose family were long-time residents of Vermont, only a few miles from Keene.
Rising prosperity following the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812, stimulated glass houses to respond to current styles of English and Irish cut glass with a line of tableware for the average consumer. The method of blowing glass into iron molds (generally made in three parts) was perfected and molds were produced using classical geometric as well as fanciful rococo designs that would influence the patterns of pressed glass later. This pattern is catalogued by George and Helen McKearin in their comprehensive volume, American Glass, as G II-18. The blown three-mold process in no way reproduced the crisp lines of the cut product but instead created its own aesthetic of refracted light on a soft, fluid surface of diapered and reeded design.
The artisan glass blower placed a gather (glob) of molten glass on his blowpipe and blowing expanded the molten glass into the mold. He then opened the mold and affixed a pontil (iron rod) to the bottom of the vessel with a small wafer of molten glass. At this point, he cut off the blowpipe and holding the vessel by the pontil, returned it to the furnace until the neck was again malleable enough to be tooled to the desired shape and size. So that the neck was not plain in contrast to the body, he applied neck rings with strings of molten glass. In this case, he applied three double rings tooled with striations, which added to the beauty as well as the stability in the hand of the user. He returned the entire vessel to the furnace for a brief fire polishing, broke off the pontil and cooled the finished product slowly.
The use of a mold was not limited to one object. Quart and pint-sized molds could be shaped by a talented artisan into pitchers with tooled lips and applied handles as well as other tableware. These beautiful, but fragile, wares flourished while pressed glass was in its infancy. The ability of glass blowers to produce with ease hollow objects with small necks such as cruets, carafes and decanters sustained this genre of glass production. By 1840, however, blown three-mold pattern glass production had virtually ceased. The aggressive pressed glass industry had developed less artisan-intensive techniques and a more durable product.