Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fostoria, Friends and Birthdays!

I feel like I have been away forever - traveling and being sick. After a nice vacation, I had the Shingles and, yes, I had the shot a few years ago.  Thankfully, they were not too horrible. The anti-viral medicine was worse, than the disease.  I mention this only because I did not realized that, when you have the Shingles, you are contagious for the Chicken Pox.  Did you know that? I had no idea - just thought you might like to know it, if you were as clueless, as I was.

Well, enough of that subject.  What I really want to discuss in this post is the fact that this year, 2015, is the birthday of two iconic tableware patterns.  First, it is the 50th birthday of Wedgwood's "Wild Strawberry" dinnerware pattern.

Here is a wonderful "Wild Strawberry" window at Harrods in London. I wish I could be there to see this one and the others that are paying homage to this delightful pattern.  With summer almost here, strawberries are a fabulous addition to the dinner table. I am so happy that I own a few pieces of this pattern.

The one that started my collection is the footed vase that my friend and neighbor, Susie, found at Goodwill for $10.00, when I was away on a trip.  She called me and asked if I would like to have it and, of course, I said, "Yes!".  You might remember Susie, as she is the one who graciously loaned me her gorgeous "Georgia" transferware plates in a previous post that you can see Here.

While we are on the subject of sweet friends named Susie, a childhood friend of mine recently gave me these beautiful Fostoria green "Argus" iced tea glasses. I am humbled by her gift and the fact that she is allowing me to the be keeper of these glasses, until they pass to another obsessed Fostoria collector.  These pressed glass pieces (No. 2770) were created by a special arrangement with the Henry Ford Museum and were produced from the 1960s to 1985 with some being produced in the 1990s.  They were made in green, gray, cobalt blue, clear and ruby. Thanks so much, Susie.  I hope you like the way they look on my table.

Now, we finally are ready for the real star of this post, but I will give you a little background first:

Whoa!  What happened here and what does this Picasso painting have to do with this post?? Well, this painting, "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon", was painted by Pablo Picasso in 1907 and the art movement, Cubism, was born.  Georges Braque and Picasso were the first to experiment with this form, but many others followed.  In 1913, a very famous international exhibition of modern art was held at the 69th Regiment armory in New York City. Every since, this show has been referred to as the Armory Show. The artwork displayed was shocking to many Americans, as they were used to more realistic paintings. Cubism was just one of the new styles introduced, but it was well represented.

Apparently, the cubist style made an impression on a man named Phillip Ebeling, because two years after the Armory Show in 1915 (a century ago!!), he applied for a patent for a Fostoria pattern (No. 2056) named "American".  Below is a drawing which accompanied the patent request:

American was the best selling Fostoria pattern for 70 years and was imitated by other manufacturers. I will not go into the crazy history of these manufacturers, because you will definitely go to sleep here. I will just write that there were many mergers and buy-outs among them.  However, two of the more famous patterns were "Whitehall" and "Cube or Cubist".  There was even a brief period of time, when a "Whitehall American" pattern was produced!

One of the reasons that I chose to purchase these goblets is that they have a hex-foot (six sides). As far as I know, Fostoria "American" was the only manufacturer to create goblets like these. Many books and articles have been written regarding the differences among the cubists patterns, but I have never seen any other pattern with a hex-foot. Also, "American" was mostly made in clear, although, Fostoria did make some pieces in color.  It is much more likely to find "Whitehall" (Replacements lists this, as a Colony pattern) or "Cube" (made by Jeannette glassware) made in colors.

This pitcher is a good example of the difficulties in identifying "American". However, an expert would point out to you that this piece is the "Whitehall" pattern, since the "American" pitchers have handles that end at the top of the pitcher, like this:

This all makes my head hurt and I am a Fostoria obsessed fan!  I do not have enough time left in my life to become an expert, but my heart is thumping a little faster at the thought of the hunt - oh, please, someone stop me! I have no more room! Oh, by the way, on Replacements the difference in the price of these two pitchers?  The "Whitehall" costs $15.99 and the "American" one is $79.00. Ummm, maybe, worth the hunt, after all??? Maybe, I could find some more room...

I could go on and on and on, about all of these wonderful pieces, but my crazy obsessions are not shared by everyone. However, one of the reasons that I am obsessed by many fine pieces of tableware is because of the history behind them.  The decorative arts move with history, just as fine arts do.  China, crystal and silver patterns change with different art movements that come and go. One moment, society is wild over Art Nouveau or Baroque and the next, we must own Minimalist art or architecture.  It is all connected and I wish that I could preserve all of it for the generations to come.  My poor husband, definitely, thinks that I am doing my part!!

So, Happy Birthday, "American" and "Wild Strawberry".  You both look great for your age and I hope there are many more birthdays to come!!!


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