Monday, June 16, 2014

Let's Try To Win A Prize On The Midway

People spend money on carnival glass items most every day. The beautiful bowls and drinking glasses and goblets and vases shine in iridescent golds, like the breast feathers of a ring-neck pheasant or in iridescent bronzy-purples, like the head feathers of a grackle. This glass artform, which was variously called rainbow or aurora glass, supposedly got its name from the fact that it was often given away as prizes at carnivals. Despite its exquisite colors and designs, this type of glass, the poor-man's Tiffany, was inexpensive to produce, and therefore could be purchased by common people.

The item which is the subject of this post, and pictured above, is also carnival glass. I'm not joking; it is truly carnival glass. I know this because my father told me of how his mother, Jennie, had actually won it as a prize at a local county fair or carnival in the 1920s.

The type of glass shown here is more formally called "red cut to clear" glass. Cut glass is not actually 'cut'. It is produced by taking pressed glass (i.e. glass blown or pressed into a mold) and sanding (i.e. cutting) certain parts with a sanding wheel. In this case, the glass is clear with a thin layer of red over the surface, and when the glass is sanded, the thin layer of red is sanded or cut off 'revealing' the clear glass underneath.

So although an antiques dealer would probably refuse to acknowledge that this goblet is carnival glass, there is no denying that it was won as a prize at a carnival. And you know the saying: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a probably is a duck.

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