Journal of Glass Studies, Volume 51, 2009

Dec 12, 2009
Issue 763


A Must-read About Carder Steuben, Something New
Tom Dimitroff

I would like to point out a current publication that has an article with fascinating new information about Carder Steuben glass that all of us should find very informative. The publication is the current Journal of Glass Studies, Volume 51, 2009. If you are unaware of this publication, it is published annually by The Corning Museum of Glass. This publication came into being in 1959, “…to meet the need for the recording of those discoveries, interpretations, acquisitions, and publications that affect the understanding of the history of glassmaking and of glass as an artistic medium up to the mid-20th century. Articles of a scholarly nature include archeological, early scientific-technical, and art-historical accounts.”


The first article in the current issue of the Journal of Glass Studies that I think will interest us all is “The Smithsonian Institution and American Glass Manufacturers 1917-1929,” by Susan H. Myers (pp. 176-197). This article talks about the Smithsonian’s efforts in the early 1900s to get artistic glass manufacturers to donate objects to their glass collections. These one-time efforts to contact glass manufacturers directly ended in the early 1920s. This article focuses on the Smithsonian’s efforts to get glass donations from the T.G. Hawkes Co. and the Steuben Glass Division of the Corning Glass Works. Both companies were located in Corning, New York.

In 1916 T. G. Hawkes Company representatives wrote to the Smithsonian indicating their interest in donating pieces to the Institution. The Smithsonian replied with enthusiasm stating, “We have for some time been awaiting fitting opportunity to enlarge the scope of our glass exhibit by the addition of features representative of the decorative glass industry, and there is no other manufacturer whose contributions in this direction could be of greater significance.”

Ms. Myers points out that in 1918 when the final group of Hawkes items arrived at the Smithsonian they were accompanied with a request from Samuel Hawkes,” We would be very glad if you would keep the Hawkes and Steuben exhibits entirely separate as myself and sisters have sold the Steuben Glass Works on satisfactory terms since I saw you, which will give us a better opportunity to develop the Hawkes factory. As unusual as this might seem, when the first shipment of 22 pieces of Steuben glass from Frederick Carder who was the Vice President and Managing Director of the Steuben Division of the Corning Glass Works, arrived at Smithsonian it was accompanied by a note from Carder, “…and it is our understanding that this exhibit remain intact as our individual exhibit of which we are to have full credit and not to be combined with the Hawkes exhibit.” Obviously the 1918 sale of Steuben Glass to the Corning Glass Works resulted in bad feelings on behalf of more than one of those involved. This needs further study.

Steuben was to send more pieces to the Smithsonian: six more in June of 1918 and eighteen pieces five years later. This brought the total number of Steuben pieces donated to thirty-three. Ms. Smith discovered another interesting happening relating to Steuben’s gifts. Years later in 1936, she reports, John M. Gates, at that time Steuben’s managing director, [by this time Carder had been removed from his leadership of Steuben and made Art Director of the Corning Glass Works]. requested that the Smithsonian return eight pieces of “old” Steuben that had previously been deleted from their display. These pieces were returned. They included one Gold Aurene vase, one Blue Aurene vase, a pink and white candlestick, a goblet in Mariette pattern, a goblet in Melba Pattern, a goblet in Doulton pattern, one goblet in Devon pattern and one eagle.

This article includes a number of excellent photos, all well identified in their captions. There are nineteen full-color and ten black and white photographs of Hawkes pieces that were donated.

There are twenty-seven full-color photographs of pieces of Carder Steuben donated to the Smithsonian. Additionally, there is a wonderful black and white photograph of the Steuben gifts displayed in a case in the Smithsonian Arts and Industries’ Building. There are many special pieces included in these photographs. There is what appears to be an Amber footed bowl with blue lines that are applied to swirled optic ribs. Also appearing is a splendid Brown Aurene vase with an applied Intarsia border and two acid cut-back vases or more properly acid-etched vases, one in the “Smarkand” pattern. The list goes on and most collectors and dealers will be able to identify shape numbers with little effort.

All who have interest in Hawkes and Carder Steuben glass owe a vote of thanks to Ms. Myers for this well-researched, beautifully illustrated, and clearly written article that presents valuable new information to the world of knowledge about American art glass. My comments here about her article, barely scratch the surface of what is therein included.

Also in this issue of, The Journal of Glass Studies under a report on “Major Acquisitions Added to Corning Collection,” is a beautiful full-color illustration of the 27.7cm high Florentia and Cintra Carder Steuben vase that is a gift to the Museum by Barbara Olsen in memory of Fellow John K. Olsen.

Finally, on a sadder note is the inclusion of obituaries for two friends of Mr. Carder, Mr. Robert F. Rockwell Jr. (1911-2009) and Joanne Stovall Perrot (1930-2009).

If you don’t have this issue of this wonderful publication and would like to get one, it can be ordered from:

The Corning Museum of Glass
One Museum Way
NY 14830-2253
Phone: (800) 7239156

The price is $40.00 plus postage


Tom Dimitroff
December 12, 2009

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