Themes in Steuben Glass

Jan 29, 2024
Issue 3701

Many Steuben glass designs draw their inspiration from nature, and across the decades certain themes arise again and again.  Over the coming issues we’ll explore these commonalities in both the Carder era designs as well as modern Steuben glass. 


We’re kicking off the series in this first edition with a tongue-in-cheek name.  That’s băss (as in fish) as opposed to bāss (as Meghan Trainor sang in her 2014 pop song).  Fish of all kinds have been a common theme in Steuben glass.

Frederick Carder designed several acid-etched patterns that featured tropical fish swimming serenely among a background of water plants.  The Tropic, Fish, and Marine etched patterns all feature this similar theme. 

Mr. Carder’s designs also included pieces where the entire body of the fish is used as the vessel.  An upright fish makes an unusual form that must have been a conversation-starter when used as a vase.  A similar design was also made with a “hook” as a stopper to make it a functional and unique decanter.  These pieces featured fish with either a swirled or smooth glass appearance.  The line drawings also show designs with fish in a horizontal orientation.  Gardner classified these as “vases” and one can assume they made an interesting base for a flower arrangement.

Elegant table top decorations were also made.  Delicate flower frogs with a central glass decoration featuring two fish came in a variety of glass colors.  A large tropical fish in clear crystal looks beautiful on a table top, and is a hefty piece of glass weighing six pounds. 

Steuben Glass produced the iconic sculptural piece “Trout & Fly” designed by James Houston in 1966.  This design with the enclosed bubbles and a gold fly has proven very popular and is still being sold today.  Smaller pieces such as a fish-shaped hand cooler were also made.


A reminder that our first CSGA Member Zoom meeting will take place this coming Sunday, February 4th from 4:00 to 6:00pm EST.  Information on how to join the meeting via Zoom will be emailed to all members on Wednesday.

We have what should be a very interesting program lined up.  This past summer we had a very generous donation to our Symposium auction from Mrs. Marianne Rutan.  Her grandfather, Edward Palme Sr., immigrated to the United States from Europe to work in Corning as an engraver.  Peter Rutan has graciously offered to tell the story of Edward Palme Sr. (his great-grandfather) and his career at our meeting.  Edward Palme Sr. had two sons, Edward Jr. and Joseph, who also had careers in Corning.  We have pictures from the Rakow Library of Edward Jr. engraving a Steuben Audubon plate.

Mrs. Rutan’s son-in-law, Mark Wheeler, reached out to us concerning some glass that was in the family, which resulted in the auction donation.  We are grateful to the family for their donation and for their willingness to share their story with us.


Thanks to all who have submitted your CSGA membership renewals for 2024.  If you haven’t had a chance to renew your membership yet, please take a moment and lend your support today!  It’s fast and easy to renew on the website here.  Thank you!

Symposium 2024
Carder Steuben Glass Association
20-21 September 2024
© Carder Steuben Glass Association Inc.