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Antiques Considered - April 2, 2014

This pair of jack-in-the-pulpit vases belongs to a lady in the Northern Neck, who inherited them many years ago.  They are in excellent condition, and are ten inches high.

 These are fine examples of overlay glass, showing the blue surface on top of the underlying white one.  Initially, they appear to resemble English Bristol glassware, but these are American, made in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.   They probably come from one of the factories in Ohio, where much of the best artistic glasswork originated in that time frame.

 The enamel painting and the gilt application are in appreciably good condition, but the great feature of this pair is the superb top with its crennelation and overlay.  The upper flower on each vase faces in the same direction, whereas to be a genuine pair they should face in different directions.  That is a relatively minor flaw in such good pieces.

The term, jack-in-the-pulpit, derives from the burst effect of the top rim, similar to that of the woodland flower of the same name.  In both the flower and the glassware the design calls to mind that of a pulpit in a church with an overhead canopy.  The motif was popular in American glassmaking, showing the sophistication of the glassblower.    Today market conditions are not as favorable as they were a few years ago, resulting in current prices being reduced significantly.  In the present situation, the pair is worth $175.  Ones by Tiffany, Quetzal or Phoenix often sell for many thousands of dollars.

Exceptional glassware has not been affected as severely as some other forms of antiques.  Abundant research is available online, as well as through collector societies.  Although European glassmakers produced similar wares, in America the jack-in-the-pulpit vase found its most elegant flowering, to coin a phrase.

Happy Antiquing!

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