Sweet finds: Custard glassware

Whenever something is in demand and supplies are less than plentiful, copycats or reproductions are often produced. In the glass world, these reproductions can be very similar to the originals, especially if procedures, base material and molds are still available.

Custard glass is an example of the new duplicating the old. Back in 1969, three glass manufacturers, unaware of the others’ attempts, introduced custard glass independently to the public – the St. Clair Glass Works in Indiana, Wright Glass Company of West Virginia and Crystal Art Glass Company from Ohio.

St. Clair produced four toothpick holders in January, 1969, in Holly Band and Indian Chief patterns formerly made by Northwood; Inverted Fan and feather, also from Northwood; and Kingfisher from Marion Glass Co., Indiana.

Most were plain custard appearance, although a few had a clear iridescent finish.

Wright Glass Company produced quite a diversity of custard glassware, over 30 separate items. Most were cast in old Northwood molds and made by the Fenton Art Glass Company also of West Virginia. (Fenton still makes custard glass items of excellent quality.)

Crystal Art Glass Company of Cambridge, Ohio, owned by Elizabeth Degenhart issued 15 items of novel forms. These 15 forms of custard glass were produced in one week and soon disappeared from the shelves of stores.

Because the older items were copied precisely, few can detect any difference. Some older custard glass had ground off pontils, (but beware, it was not too long ago such companies as Imperial Glass produced hand-blown pontil bearing glasswares).

On the drawing board. For many years Joseph L. St. Clair desired to produce a batch of custard glass. However pressing business requirements delayed the production even after 1955 when 10 pounds of uranium salts were purchased – this is the required ingredient for custard glass.

In January, 1969, the formula was mixed and weighed. Over the weekend of January 3-5, the mixture cooked and simmered. On Monday, Jan. 6, the pouring began.

That year, after a 45-year hiatus, custard glass was recreated, employing an antique formula that culminated into the four designs of toothpick holders. St. Clair’s coloration was close to custard pudding, a soft canary appearance. Other producers succeeded with only an ivory, off-white finish.

Similar glassware. There are two glasswares that closely resemble custard glass that even some collectors and dealers term them as custard glass. One is named Peachblow, a popular color manufactured by Hobbs, Brockunier and Company in Wheeling, W.Va.

It was very attractively shaded in red hues to yellow, sometimes lined with white glass, either glossy or satiny.

Burmese was another lively colored, satiny finish glassware. It was shaded in hues of salmon to yellow and was often decorated with painting.

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