Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Cheers to Mid-Century Modern Glassware


Vintage Culver Mushroom Pattern Rocks Glasses

When I think of mid-century modern glassware, I remember wonderful dinners shared with my dear friend, Helaine, at a restaurant named Cakes & Ale in Decatur, Georgia. We were working together doing appraisals as part of the Country Living Fair. A busy day was always followed by a wonderful dinner. The restaurant had a colorful display of mid-century glassware on shelves over their bar. If you ordered a cocktail, you never knew which fanciful cocktail glass your drink would arrive in. Would it be a golden Culver rocks glass or a sparkling Dorothy Thorpe silver overlay? A guaranteed conversation starter.

Mid-century modern glassware can be found in vintage and antique stores, garage and estate sales and flea markets. This article will help you to know what to look for: possible markings, distinctive colors, shapes and decorations that may reveal the maker of a piece. 


Vintage Culver Valencia Pattern Highball Glasses
For Sale on Etsy for $100

Culver glassware is my favorite. Culver Glassware Company was founded in Brooklyn, New York in 1939. Vintage Culver glassware is marked by its opulent 22-karat gold overlay. Culver glassware comes in a variety of sparkling gilded patterns: owls, mushrooms, cats, wildlife, Egyptian design themes, holiday designs, sports themes, etc.

Vintage Culver Paisley

If you suspect that a glass might be Culver, turn it over and look for the “Culver” signature on the glass.

Culver glassware can be found in vintage stores, flea markets and on Etsy and One Kings Lane.

Prices range from $20 -$75 a glass

Important Note: Culver glassware cannot be put in the dishwasher because of the gold overlay.


Vintage Blendo Orange Tom Collins Glasses

Blendo glass was made by West Virginia Glass Company and Anchor Hocking Glass Corp. It was hugely popular in the 50s and 60s. This glassware lends a whimsical pop of color to entertaining. Blendo is characterized by a bright or pastel colored solid base that fades as it goes up the body of the glass ending in a gold rim. The gold rim is the signature of a Blendo piece. If you don’t see the gold rim, it is a knock off. Until 1968, pieces made by Anchor Hocking were marked with an anchor over H mark.

Blendo glassware can be found at Flea markets, thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales and on Etsy.

Prices range from $25 and up for individual pieces.

Important Note: These pieces cannot be washed in the dishwasher due to the gold rim.

Georges Briard

Georges Briard Blue & Purple Fruit Glasses
For Sale at The Hours Shop for $450

Georges Briard’s decorative housewares were all the rage in the 50s and 60s. In the beginning of his career, he purchased blank glassware from companies like Libbey and Anchor Hocking and embellished them with his designs. Later, he licensed his designs to companies that would produce the glassware with the design. His signed glassware was sold at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and Bonwit Teller. His glassware is signed with his name in cursive

Briard glassware can be found at estate sales, flea markets, Etsy and at vintage stores.

Prices range from $150 and up.

Important Note: Most pieces will have to be hand washed.

Dorothy Thorpe

Vintage Dorothy Thorpe Silver Rimmed Roly Poly Glasses
For Sale on Etsy for $125

Dorothy Thorpe was known for her minimalist design. She settled in Glendale, California and produced tableware for high end department stores. Her work was created using blank glassware decorated with sandblasted designs of irises, roses and eucalyptus. She became most famous for her simple silver overlay and paint speckled glass pieces. Some of her glassware is signed with a large “T” and a small “D.” Most of it is unsigned.

Dorothy Thorpe glassware can be found at estate sales, flea markets, Etsy and at vintage stores.

Prices range from $100-$950.

Important Note: Most pieces will have to be hand washed.


Vintage Libbey Green Giant Collins Glasses
For Sale by Retro Solstice for $600

Libbey has made millions of glasses over the years: Collins glasses, tumblers, iced tea glasses, goblets, etc. Libbey glassware was in most American homes in the 50s, 60s and 70s. The glassware is whimsical. Decoration runs the gamut from sports themes, flowers, birds, dogs, stagecoaches, automobiles and travel. Vintage Libbey glassware is signed with cursive "L" in a circle. New Libbey glassware is signed with a cursive "L" without the circle.

Libbey glassware can be found at thrift stores, estate sales, flea markets, Etsy and at vintage stores.

Prices range from $10-$600.

Monday, August 22, 2022

The Wonderous Glass Art of Paul Stankard


Paul Stankard "Morning Glory Orb with Damselfly and Honeybees"
Sold on April 27, 2021 for $8750

Each and every time I appraise one of Paul Stankard’s glass pieces, I am awestruck by the intimate realism of the petals of a flower or wings of a bee but look even more closely and you might find roots that are in form of tiny people or small words like “seed” hidden in the design.

Paul Stankard is an American studio glass artist who creates works of stunning beauty. I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on one of his paperweights. I know you are thinking…paperweight… really?? It was in a client’s home on Lookout Mountain with a spectacular brow view, but I only had eyes for the paperweight on the coffee table. We spent the next several minutes discussing Paul Stankard and his eye-popping botanical paperweights.

Paul Stankard "Honeycomb and Crocuses"
Sold by Freeman's Auction, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Each paperweight is a unique microcosm of nature suspended in clear glass. So lifelike that you feel that you can hear the bees buzzing around the blooming spring flowers and scattering of blueberries. Paul uses an ancient European technique of lampworking to create the flowers, insects, berries and other botanical items for his paperweights. He is assisted by his daughters, Katherine, Pauline and Christine and his longtime assistant David Graeber.

Paul Stankard "Bouquet Botanical Cube"
Sold by Freeman's Auction, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

His work can be seen in over 60 museums around the world. Our own Hunter Museum of American Art presented the exhibition "Beauty Beyond Nature The Glass Art of Paul Stankard" in late 2012 and early 2013 and has one of his pieces in their permanent collection.

I will leave you with Paul’s own words about his work. Hopefully, it will inspire you to see one of his pieces in person soon. I promise you won’t forget it.

Receive This Glass

"Receive this glass

it holds my memories

crafted blossoms


in stillness

to be pollinated

by your sight


your touch through time"

-Paul Stankard

To see Paul at work, watch the following video:

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

A June Visit to the Barnes Foundation

I have followed the history of the Barnes Foundation since the 1990s. It is a tangled and controversial tale. So when my husband and I planned a trip to Pennsylvania to pick up our new chow chow puppy, we took a slight detour to Philadelphia to see the collection.

The purpose of the trip. Baby Henry

I learned about the Barnes Foundation while I was working at the Houston Museum of Decorative Arts. One of our docents had traveled the short distance by train from Philadelphia to Merion, Pennsylvania to see the fabulous collection of Dr. Barnes. Over lunch for the next few months, we discussed the collection and the unconventional Dr. Barnes. The Barnes collection encompasses 181 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos, 16 Modiglianis and 7 Van Goghs. All hung amongst important pieces of American furniture, Americana, medieval paintings, Greek and African objects and multitudes of wrought iron hinges, locks, keys and handles.

Gallery at the Barnes Foundation

Yes, his dense arrangement is eccentric, but it was his intention to change the way we looked at art. Paintings and objects by different artists and from different time periods hung together echoing similar colors, themes and shapes. At times the displays can be overwhelming, but just around the corner will be a breath-taking piece of post-Impressionist art that you studied in art history 101.

Paul Cezanne "Bathers at Rest"

Vincent van Gogh "The Postman"

The controversy surrounding the collection begins with Dr. Barnes himself. In 1922, Dr. Barnes founded the Barnes Foundation as an educational institution. He purchased a location in Merion, Pennsylvania and by 1925 a building for the collection was completed. Barnes imposed many stipulations upon the Foundation including “nothing from the collection should be lent, sold or moved on the walls.” He forbade “any society functions commonly designated receptions, tea parties, dinners, banquets, dances, musicales or similar affairs.” In addition, the trust stipulated that the Foundation remain educational in nature and the collection only be open to the public a few days a week.

The original building Dr. Barnes constructed in Merion, PA, a Philadelphia suburb. (Photo credit: Dmadeo, Creative Commons Lic. 3.0) | Image source: boomeresque.com

Things became complicated when Albert Barnes died in an automobile accident in 1951. How could those left in charge of the Foundation continue to function as an educational institution while abiding by the stipulation of the trust? Fast forward to 2002 and the plan to relocate the Barnes art collection to downtown Philadelphia. This resulted in a heated years long court battle between defenders of Barnes original intent and those they saw as driven by greed.

Albert C. Barnes in front of his art collection in Merion, PA. | Image source: philanthropy.com

A must watch before visiting the Barnes collection is the 2009 documentary "The Art of the Steal." It is directed by Don Argott and follows the controversy surrounding the move of the Barnes Foundation and details the challenges to Albert Barnes will. I have strong feelings regarding this topic but will leave it for you to decide. Watch the documentary, visit the collection and if I see you at a cocktail party we can chat about what you think.

Trailer for the Documentary "The Art of the Steal."

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Jane Peterson


Larkspurs by Jane Peterson
Medium: Oil on canvas
This piece is a perfect example of Jane Peterson's dazzling use of color and confident brushwork

My heart is filled with joy when I walk into a client’s home and see a work of art by Jane Peterson (1876-1965). It has been my privilege to appraise quite a few of her pieces over the years. Every time I work with her art, I fall more deeply in love. Her artwork is characterized by dazzling color, strong outlines and beautifully structured compositions. The subject matter runs the gamut of Venetian canal scenes, street scenes from Algeria, Egypt and Turkey, New England beach and marine scenes and lush floral and garden paintings.

The Early Years

Jane’s artistic journey began in 1893 when she took an artistic aptitude test at the Art Institute of Chicago. The test clearly revealed her artistic talent, and she was accepted at Pratt Institute. With $300 borrowed from her mother, Jane moved from Elgin, Illinois to New York to study art. Think of the courage and determination it took for a single woman of 19 to move to New York city in 1895. While studying at Pratt, Jane taught painting lessons to other students. She graduated in 1901 and quickly found work as a drawing instructor in the Brooklyn public schools. Over the next few years, she held several different teaching positions which took her to Boston and Michigan.

Leaning Tower of Venice by Jane Peterson
Medium: Oil on Canvas
This piece sold at auction at Coeur d'Alene, Reno, Nevada on July 31, 2021 for US $72,600 including the buyer's premium

The Turning Point

The turning point in her career came in 1907, Peterson was friends with Henry Snell, a fellow art instructor and his wife, Florence who was also an artist. They invited Jane to be part of an organized art trip to Europe that summer. She traveled to the Cornish coast of England, Holland, Northern Italy and Venice. This was the beginning of Peterson’s love affair with world travel. She went on to study in Paris and lived around the corner from Gertrude and Leo Stein. The Stein’s were known for their famous cultural salon parties which Peterson occasionally attended. There, she met artists the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Leger and Cezanne. In addition to Paris, Peterson studied in Venice, London and Madrid. It was during this time period that her work began to take on her dazzling color palette and bold patterns.


In 1909 Peterson had her first solo exhibition in the United States at St. Botolph Club in Boston. She received a positive review in the Christian Science Monitor which marked the beginning of a busy career. In 1912, she traveled to Paris and painted. 1914 was marked by an invitation to paint at Laurelton Hall, Tiffany’s Long Island Estate and a solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. 1915 found her painting in the American Southwest. In 1916, she traveled with Louis Comfort Tiffany in his private railcar on a painting expedition to the Canadian Northwest and Alaska. In addition, she traveled to the art colonies of New England (Ogunquit, Gloucester, Newport, Provincetown). During this time, she taught at the Art Student’s League in New York and returned to Europe almost every year to paint.

Gloucester Harbor by Jane Peterson
Medium: Gouache and Charcoal on Paper
Attribution: Wikimedia Commons

Her Broad Ranging Subject Matter

Peterson’s voracious appetite for travel resulted in a broad range of subject matter in her paintings: New York and New England street scenes, harbor scenes of Cape Ann, swaying green palm trees in Florida, street scenes from Paris, Istanbul and Egypt, vibrant scenes of boats in the Venice canal, slice of life paintings and lush, saturated floral subjects.

Roses & Candlesticks by Jane Peterson
Medium: Oil on Linen
Date: 1946
Framed in a handmade, carved and gilded frame
Measurements: 30"h x 40"w
Image courtesy of Shuptrines Gallery, 2613 Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN 37408
For more information about this piece call (423) 266-4453


Jane Peterson’s artwork can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama and the Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN to name a few.


The record high price for one of her paintings was achieved in 2006. It is a large oil on canvas of Gloucester Harbor that sold for $520,000. The good news is that occasionally a small floral still life or a watercolor and gouache scene will sell at a small auction house for as little as $2500. In addition, her work can occasionally be found at galleries as seen in the image of Roses and Candlesticks which is being offered in our local marketplace!


Monday, March 21, 2022

Decoding The Mystery of British Sterling Hallmarks


Pair of Hallmarked London Sterling Silver Shakers

Could You Have a Valuable Piece of British Sterling Silver?

Could it be possible that you have a valuable and misattributed piece of silver at home? Most likely, you have some pieces of silver that are inherited and along with the silver came a story about its origin. These stories are the curse of the appraisal profession. True, these stories add interest to the objects, but quite often they prove to be untrue. Often, an appraiser must deliver the sad news that a piece is not as fine, valuable or old as family legend purports. The story usually unfolds with being handed a silverplate tray that is marked with pseudo hallmarks. It has been passed down as a fine piece of British sterling silver. But sometimes the story will prove to be true, or even better, the piece will prove to be finer and more valuable than you thought. By learning a few tips of the trade, you can discover when and where your silver was made, and who made it. Plus, you might discover a valuable piece of British silver at an estate or tag sale. These items are often overlooked because of the way they are marked and where they are marked. (The pair of Hallmarked London sterling silver shakers pictured above could have easily been passed off as silverplate since they are marked on the bottom edge rather than the bottom of the piece) This blog post will concentrate on learning to read British sterling silver hallmarks. Stay tuned….Future posts will cover American silver marks and confusing pseudo marks.

The ABC'S of Hallmarks

There is more to reading hallmarks on silver than knowing your abc's. Let’s begin with a quick background in why marking silver came about. Basically, hallmarks on silver were a way to assure the customer that the object he was purchasing had met standards of purity enforced by law. By 1238 in England, severe penalties were inflicted by the guild of the Goldsmith's Hall upon a craftsman whose pieces did not come up to the standard of 925 parts silver per 1000. Remember pure silver is far too soft to be useful. Through a process of trial and error, the ideal proportion of 925 parts pure silver to 75 parts copper was discovered. This combination is still in use today. When you hear the term “Sterling” silver, it means that the piece is 925 parts sterling to 75 parts copper. 

What to Look For

 You may have a piece of silver with a group of marks that looks somewhat like this:

The Crown signifies the city of Sheffield, lion passant indicating sterling silver, Letter n of a style dating the piece to 1905 and a maker's mark for Walker & Hall.
Credit for the image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:British_hallmarks.jpg The original uploader was Mrs rockefeller at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

In England, silver is marked with a walking left facing lion (often referred to as the lion passant), which indicates sterling silver. This is the first and most important mark to look for.

Lion Passant

Next, look for a mark representing the town where the piece was made. Here are the most common ones: 

  • a crowned leopards head (pre 1820 London silver)
    Crowned Leopard

  • a leopards head (post 1820 London silver)
    Leopard's Head

  • an anchor which represents Birmingham

  • a crown which represents Sheffield

  • three wheat sheaves which represents Chester
    Three Wheat Sheaves

Date Letters

Next, look for a date letter. British date marks range from A-Z. One letter represents an entire year and then it changes the next year. Styles of the letters change on average every twenty years as you make your way through the alphabet. This is where a reference book comes in handy. I will list suggested reference books and websites at the end…but first I want to unravel the mystery of all these different date marks. Don’t be overwhelmed! Once you learn this skill, it is easy and fun to discover the history of your British silver.

Go to the section of your reference book or website for the town that is listed on your piece. Let’s say a crown like the hallmark pictured at the beginning of the article. Go to the section of the book for Sheffield. Look for a matching date letter for you piece. Use a magnifying glass to see the mark clearly or take a zoomed in photo with your phone. You will notice that the letters font, capitalization and background or shield around the letter varies. Run your finger down the line of date letters until you find a match. Referring back to the hallmark pictured above. The date letter “N” pictured in that mark refers to a date of 1905. One additional note…sometimes you will see an additional mark of a King or Queens head. This is known as a duty mark. You will only see this mark in certain years. The good news is that it makes finding the date mark even easier.  

Maker's Marks

Part of the mark on your piece may be a maker's mark. These look like a group of initials. They can require quite a bit of research to find an exact match. It can be worth your time to track down the maker since who made the piece can be directly related to the value of the object. A few of the most famous are Paul Storr, Hester Bateman and Charles Ashbee.

My Piece Isn't Marked

Another question I hear is “I have a piece of silver, but it doesn’t have a mark?” The mark may not be on the bottom of the piece. They can be a challenge to find. Sometimes, a piece may be marked around the rim or around the edge base. If your piece has a lid, pull the lid off and look underneath. Anything that is detachable should bear the lion passant mark and the maker’s mark. 

Suggested Reference Books and Websites for British Hallmarks

Bradbury’s Book of Hallmarks: a Guide to Marks of Origin on English, Scottish and Irish Silver, Gold and Platinum and on Foreign Imported Silver by Frederick Bradbury

 Discovering Hallmarks on English Silver by John Bly

Jackson’s Hallmarks: English, Scottish, Irish Silver and Goldmarks from 1300 to the Present Day by Ian Pickford

Cheers to Mid-Century Modern Glassware

  Vintage Culver Mushroom Pattern Rocks Glasses When I think of mid-century modern glassware, I remember wonderful dinners shared with my de...