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When is a pattern of tableware complete?

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Early American Pattern Glass65 of 508Large 14" Crystal Compote by Shannon? SCA purple pressed glass jar with lid
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    Posted 1 year ago

    (4 items)

    The picture attached is of Richards and Hartley, Cupid and Venus, pattern 500 high standard compotes with diameters of 6 ¼ and 8 ½ inches with lids.
    There are questions about what tableware pieces were manufactured in a given pattern and what constitutes a complete set of a pattern. The catalogs are rare. It is reported that often the catalogs from acquired factories were torn apart and used by salespersons on a pattern by pattern basis or simply not kept or valued over time.
    Ruth Webb Lee in her book, ‘Enlarged and Refined Early American Pressed Glass’, provides insight and context to the at times frustrating desire to know definitively what was produced in a glass pattern of tableware. Ruth Lee reminds us “Do not forget that pressed glass after it began to be produced in high quantities…….. was never what you would call an aristocratic product with a pedigree worth preserving. ….. They (the manufacturers) saw no reason why they should put themselves out to preserve, for an antique collecting posterity, books of designs or statistics of their business…..” She relates “We find few patterns known today by their original appellations, the old records containing trade names with few exceptions having been lost. I was fortunate to find an old illustrated catalogue of Richards and Hartley of Tarentum, PA who made this pattern (Cupid and Venus) and it surprised me to find their only term for this glass was “No. 500 Pattern.” It is, therefore, better to have a recognizable alias than a meaningless birth certificate”.
    Ruth Lee brought order to the multitude of patterns and forms or pieces found in each pattern in and through her publications codified a nomenclature that distinguished one pattern from another.

    It is important to recognize this order when dealers offer items for sale, museums describe their collections and authors produce their guides and books on the subject of EAPG.

    It seems to me that it is counterproductive to continue to refer to Cupid and Venus as Minerva, except as a historical footnote, particularly since both patterns are defined, are different, and easily distinguished from each other. It should be noted that Lee also provides antidotal evidence that a legitimate synonym of Cupid and Venus is Guardian Angel.

    The internet has changed the collection dynamic for many things. This is certainly true for EAPG. What was a hobby that involved going to antique shops locally or when visiting other locales or attending shows and seeking out Cupid &Venus among so many other patterns is today a digital experience that can be had anytime the collector is logged on and knows where to look. Pieces that are more common can be found quickly and a base collection is easy to amass. As with any collectible some pieces are rare, almost never seen even with digital marketing, and more and more expensive. Rarer pieces are being absorbed in collections and are out of the broad market. More now than ever a consistent application of an acceptable nomenclature is required.
    I've recently compiled lists of Cupid and Venus tableware pieces from several books and guides in addition to Ruth Webb Lee’s Early American Pressed Glass, revised edition, and have identified pieces that are listed in only one list. I've been collecting Venus and Cupid for years and the fact I haven't seen these items or seen them referenced in the research I have done makes me wonder if they exist, or were ever made as Cupid and Venus.?They are as follows:

    A bread tray separate and different from the 10 ½ inch handled bread (cake) plate that is commonly advertised for sale and which exists in clear, amber, Vaseline (canary), and blue glass. It was listed in the 14th edition of Warman, Antiques and their prices, 1978).

    Interestingly, Jenks and Luna in Early American Pattern Glass 1850-1910 (1990) cite three types of plates: a 10 1/2 inch diameter? handled plate which I just mentioned above and is common. However they also list a "cake plate" 11 inch diameter and a 'dinner plate' 10 inch diameter. I have never seen either the cake or?dinner plate. Also listed is a high standard cake stand which I have never seen in Cupid and Venus.

    I contend the confusion is with the Minerva pattern in which these sized plates and cake stand were made and that the plates and cake stand were never made by Richards and Hartley in the pattern Cupid and Venus. Ruth Lee in her publications points out the similarity between the two patterns. It is correct that they both have cameos with figures inside; but Minerva clearly has a single Roman Warrior Goddess and Cupid and Venus a child with wings and a woman. Minerva was made by the Boston & Sandwich Glass Co., MA, not Richards and Hartley, Tarentum, PA. Both were made around 1870’s. Both have designs that are unique and catalogued for easy identification. Again I advocate for Minerva being listed as separate and distinct from Cupid and Venus, and that Minerva as it relates to Cupid and Venus be a historical footnote of misidentification.

    Appropriately Reilly and Jenks in Early American Pattern Glass, 2nd edition (2002) doesn't list the cake stand and dinner plates I just referenced from the 1990 Jenks and Luna book. It appears they have concluded these are not Cupid and Venus. However, in Reilly and Jenks (2002) in addition to the common three sizes of low standard covered compotes, the common 8 1/2 inch diameter high standard compote ,and the rarer 6 1/4 inch diameter high standard compote (attached), they list a midsize 7 inch diameter high standard (covered or uncovered) compote; which I have never seen.

    I would pose this question: Can any of the subscribers confirm whether they own, have sold, or have seen the following in the Cupid and Venus pattern?
    • High standard cake stand
    • 7 inch diameter high standard covered or open compote
    • A bread tray not the circular handled 10 ½ inch tray
    • An 11 inch diameter circular cake plate, not handled
    • A 10 inch diameter circular dinner plate, not handled.
    I appreciate the collective wisdom of the group.


    1. LOUMANAL LOUMANAL, 1 year ago
      Nice passion! I have collected and sold many items in the Cupid and Venus pattern over the years but I don't recall seeing those you have listed at the end of your dissertation. This pattern is a common one in Canada. As you probably know, glass from this period in time was shipped from many glasshouses by the carload (train) to centres in Canada.
    2. Thurcroft, 1 year ago
      Thank you for your response and your observations. I appreciate the Canadian perspective and have acquired some pieces from Canadian sources. I do get frustrated when it appears there is no definitive guide or published listing that I have seen of a pattern as common as C&V that is complete and not corrupted by confusion with Minerva.

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