Unique colored Millville Umbrella Paperweight pair Whitall Tatum circa 1900
Unique colored Millville Umbrella Paperweight pair Whitall Tatum circa 1900. Offered here is a unique pair of Umbrella Paperweights made at the Whitall Tatum Glass Company in Millville, NJ, circa 1900. Unlike an operation such as the Clevenger Brothers Glass Company that operated several decades later, the manufacture of art glass and paperweights at Whitall Tatum was not done commercially.WT glassworkers were allowed to make off-hand glass, paperweights, or whimsies only after their quota of pharmaceutical glassware was filled for the company. In later years, this free time to make whimsies was expanded to include a workers lunch break. The soda-lime glass formula used for Whitall Tatum products beginning in the 1860s was ideal for those workers interested in making whimsies; crystal clear and easy to work. Paperweights were among the more popular items to be made, with items such as umbrella paperweights and inkwells taking on some of the characteristics of the pharmaceutical ware made during regular working hours. As sometimes happens when people have a good thing going, someone got a little greedy. About 1912, a thief attempted to take some employee-made paperweights out of the company annealing oven before the glass was fully tempered. The rush of cool air into the oven and resulting damage to the companys regular glass production also in the oven forced Whitall Tatum to suspend the making of paperweights and off-hand ware. Out of the several hundred glassblowers who worked at Whitall Tatum in the early 1900s, a small group stands out as makers of fine paperweights; Ralph Barber, John Ruhlander, Michael Kane, Emil Stanger, and Marcus Kuntz. , Stanger was a maker of rose paperweights, while Kuntz was known to excel at making umbrella and devils fire paperweights. Perhaps the most talented and best known of the Whitall Tatum glassblowers were Ralph Barber and John Ruhlander. Although recognized for their excellent paperweights Ruhlander for his umbrellas and Barber for his famed Millville Rose both men also produced fine blown glass pieces. The umbrella weights offered here cannot be positively identified as made by a specific glassworker. Whoever did make them, however, was thinking outside of the box when designing them. Instead of using the standard white frit colored base for the flower, they used different colors blue/green and amber and used the white frit for a snow-like covering on the top of the flower surface. To date, only these two are known with the powdered white frit on top. Another with a blue flower without additional topping is pictured in The Fires Burn On exhibition catalog by the Museum of American Glass in Millville, New Jersey. Both of these weights are in very good to excellent condition. The blue/green colored umbrella weight stands 3 5/8 inches tall and has a diameter of 3 1/8 inches. The flower is divided into 9 segments and has white frit on top resembling being covered with snow. The foot shape is slightly out of round and has a pontil mark on the base. The weight surface has a few tiny scratches. The amber colored flower weight stands 3½ inches tall and has a 3 1/8 inch diameter. The flower is also divided into 9 segments, along with the snow-like white frit. My wife thinks this one looks like a frosted mini-wheat! The sphere of this weight is not as round as the blue/green weight, perhaps in-manufacture, or from a previous repair. If you look very closely, there is a very small and almost not visible surface bruise. With both weights having 9 segments to the flower, theres a good possibility they were made using the same crimp and likely by the same person. As mentioned earlier, they are a unique pair that you are unlikely to find. Check my other auctions for more Millville paperweights, Clevenger and other South Jersey glass pieces. Last Links to the Past.
- Country/Region of Manufacture: United States