|Mt. Washington Glass Toothpick
by Sarah Jenkins
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I started collecting toothpick holders more than 20 years ago and like so many other collectors, my first one was inherited from family. It was the common cut glass Strawberry Diamond and Fan. For several years cut glass and clear pattern glass were all I bought. Then I started specializing in companies such as Heisey, Fostoria, Duncan & Miller and the series known to toothpick collectors as the State Patterns. Needless to say as you view the items from my collection which illustrate this article, the ñaddicitonî has progressed far from that point with me now.
One of my primary interests now is Mt. Washington Glass, which I will briefly outline in the article. The information for this will be taken from early articles from Mt. Washington Art Glass Society Publications and notes from a seminar given by David. C. Fuchshuber at < a href= ñî>The National Toothpick Holder CollectorÍs Society annual convention in 1994.
In 1870, William L. And Captain Henry Libby moved the Mt. Washington glass works to this factory. The company was reorganized in 1876 and the name changed to the Mt. Washington Glass Company. During the late 1870s, Frederick S. Shirley, an Englishman, became the chief designer for the Mt. Washington Glass Company. The greatest achievements of the company occurred during ShirleyÍs time. Frederick Shirley and Albert Steffin were responsible for the invention and production of various types of art glass which made the company famous.
A patent for heat-sensitive shaded glass called Amberina was issued on May 25, 1886 to Frederick Shirley. This was identical to the glass patented by Joseph Lock of the New England Glass Company on July 24, 1883. The New England Glass Co. filed suit to stop Mt. WashingtonÍs production of the glass. The suit was settled when Mt. Washington changed the name of its glass to Rose Amber. However the two remain virtually identical.
Glass that has a small amount of soluble gold in it appears amber in color when taken from the pot. The object is then shaped and a portion of it reheated at the glory hole until it becomes a ruby red to fuschia color depending upon the length of time it is reheated.
Amberina was and remains extremely popular and continues to be produced by many glass companies. Mt. Washington produced many shapes in Rose Amber. The easiest way to identify a Mt. Washington form is to compare the shape to other known Mt. Washington forms.
Photograph #1: will show three toothpicks in Rose Amber that were also made in Burmese, Glossy Diamond Quilted. The shapes are Bulbous Base Square Top, Tri-Corner, and Square. The quilting on these is larger than the New England Venetian Diamond and the color appears more fuschia.
Frederick S. Shirley was issued another patent on December 15, 1885 for a shaded translucent glass called Burmese. To the basic formual for amberina three additional ingredients were added including uranium oxide. Burmese glass is a translucent glass that is shaded from a bright yellow at the base to a coral or salmon pink at the top. Two types of Burmese glass were produced; the original shiny finish or a soft matte finish achieved by washing the glass in acid. Burmese glass was blown, blown molded and press molded. Press molded Burmese was produced in a quilted, hobnail, or melon shaped pattern.
Burmese was extremely popular and produced for over ten years. More than 250 shapes and forms were made including table lamps with Burmese chimneys, beverage sets, condiments sets (including toothpick holders).
Not only was the Mt. Washington Glass company inventive in the color of glass it produced. It excellend in the decoration of that glass. Albert Steffin was the superintendent of the Mt. Washington decoration department. Mt. Washington decoration was considered the finest in the country. The decoration applied to Burmese was elegant and often unique. Many of the decorations are worthy artistic renditions.
Mt. Washington was the only glass company in the United States to manufacture Burmese. In 1886 Frederick Shirley presented Queen Victoria a gift of Burmese glass. Then, in June of 1886 a patent was issued in England for production of Burmese glass. Then a license was awarded to Thomas Webb and Sons for its production in England.
Mt. Washington continued to produce Burmese after 1895 until 1900, only in smaller quantities. Pairpoint, the Mt. Washington successor, produced a limited amount of Burmese original formula. The Gunderson-Pairpoint Company produced some Burmese in 1956 and the Pairpoint Glass company produced some in the 1970s.
Photograph #2 shows shiny Diamond Quilted Burmese in the same shapes as Rose Amber.
By substituting a small amount of cobalt or copper oxide in the place of the uranium oxide used in the production of Burmese, Frederick Shirley created Peachblow glass. On July 20, 1886 he was issued a patent for this heat sensitive glass, which was very different and unique. Upon reheating, the glass turned a rose pink at the top and shaded to a bluish grey-white at the base. Peachblow and Burmese share the same forms and shapes. Some Peachblow contains enameled and painted decorations, including the QueenÍs and Verse designs. The rarest forms of Peachblow have the applied Peachblow decorations of flowers, leaves and cherries.
Mt. Washington Peachblow is the rarest of all Heat Sensitive Glass and was only produced from 1886 until 1888. Unfortunately, it never achieved the popularity or success of its predecessor, Burmese. It remains elusive today on the market.
Photograph #3: Square decorated Peachblow.
Note: this is the same shape as the Square shown in the first two photographs. Unfortunately, the other two shapes are not in my collection. Other shapes do exist.
Crown Milano was usually made of opal glass that was blown, blown molded, or pressed. Most of the glass was given an acid or matte finish.
Albert Steffin and Frederick Shirley were awarded a joint patent for decorating opal lamp shades and bases which became known as Mt. Washington Crown Milano. A trademark paper for this glass was issued to the Mt. Washington Glass Compnay on January 31, 1893. The assigned mark was a monogram of ñ C and Mî (note photograph #11 Flat Fingers has this mark). Sometimes a crown was used with the ñC and Mî; somtimes just a variation of the monogram appeared. The decorations were many and varied. Occasionally, a color other than opal was used for the glass blank such as Burmese or a soft pale yellow to green opaque glass.
Albertine is decorated opal glass, usually with a matte finish, which is the same as Crown Milano. The only documented examples have been found with paper labels. It is thought that Albertine was the name first given to Mt. WashingtonÍs line of decorated opal ware.
Photographs 4-12 will show some examples with my description. I am not sure of the distinction between Crown Milano and Albertine.
The trademark for this glass is a reversed ïRÍ combined with a forward ïFÍ usually enclosed in a diamond shape. It is a clear transparent crystal that was given a matte finish and then heavily decorated. Produced during the late 1880s, the trademark was not granted until February 1894. Royal Flemish glass is the most exotic glass produced by Mt. Washington. Its decoration is usually elaborate. There are rare examples of this glass in blue, green, pink, and yellow. Royal Flemish is very rare, scarce and highly collectible today.
||Photo #4-a: Figmold, yellow satin with fingers, Royal Flemish|
||Photo #4-b: Figmold, lusterless white, satin inside and out|
||Photo #4-c: Figmold, Burmese, glossy inside, satin outside|
||Photo #5: Simple Scroll, (L-R) lusterless white with fingers, Burmese, (soft pink) scalloped top; Unfired Burmese, beaded top|
||Photo #7: Footed Lobe, lusterless white and Burmese|
|Photo #8: Urn, left & center, lightly fired Burmese, note decoration previously shown on other shpae, on the right is simulated Burmese (lusterless white painted to look like Burmese)|
||Photo #9: Bulbous Base Square Top, left Burmese, center Burmese, right Diamond Quilted Burmese|
||Photo #10: Tri-Corner, both are Diamond Quilted Burmese, left is lightly fired almost yellow; right is rosy pink to yellow, same size as center item in Photo 2 & 3.|
||Photo #11: Fine-Rib, lusterless white: left is simulated Burmese, signed with a crown and CM; center tri-corner top, inside painted orange to simulate Burmese; right beaded top, pale blue paint.|
||Photo #12: Square Burmese, left deep pink; right lightly fired (almost white with just a hint of pink). This shape also comes with diamond quilting. ItÍs the same shape and size as Peachblow and the Rose Amber and Glossy Diamond Quilted Burmese.|
The following statements are personal observations and may not always apply. I have some shapes in Figmold, Urn, Simple Scroll and Footed Lobe in both white and Burmese whereas Fine-Rib is only in lusterless white. Bulbous Base Square Top and Tri-Corner are in Burmese. Some shapes I havenÍt discussed because I did not have an example in the collection, such as Parallel Greek Key, which I understand comes in both white and Burmese.
Original article appeared in the Nov. 18, 1998 Antique Trader and has been reproduced with the permission of the author. REFERENCES ON TOOTHPICK HOLDERS:
Out of Print
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