"Coat of Arms" Marigold Two-Sides-Up 6" Plate Whimsey Playing Card or Guest Card Tray
Here's something that Father Gabriel Talley sent in (to the Hooked on Carnival ~ Fred Stone Carnival Glass Newsletter) on January 11, 2018 about an eBay sale (112729178836) listed as a Carnival Glass Napkin Holder.
Father Talley wrote, "Does anyone know more about this piece? Check the final selling price. It is obviously a rare piece. I am baffled by it." ~ Fr Gabriel Talley
I love a great glass mystery, don't we all? There has not been a pattern so much talked about concerning its origins since the Giant Pagoda vase was discussed on the Woodsland nightly newsletter many years ago. It does not surprise me that Father Talley, who owns one of the two known Giant Pagoda vases, would be interested in the two sides up dish on eBay. I own the other Giant Pagoda vase and I know the insane attraction of the unknown, just like Father Talley.. Yes, so it was I who purchased that baffling piece of history, which is still baffling to me, but at least we will all have a decent and proper introduction to it tonight. I read each of your comments and really thought some of you had very valid ideas. This will be a fun group effort and perhaps we will even see some results from the Fred Stone Think Tank.
Speaking of the Giant Pagoda vase, it was Mike Carwile, author of the Carnival Glass Encyclopedias, that cemented the origins of this rare vase by having shown us a shard that was dug up from the Helman Digs. It was the shard heard 'round the world...a corner of the foot of a Giant Pagoda vase which proved Dugan made it. Speaking of Mike Carwile, he is the one who emailed the auction to me as an item of interest he thought I would like. And HOW! Mike peruses eBay on a daily basis for the odd and unusual and sends me many auctions for my opinion and good glass talk. I would like to extend a special thank you to Mike for finding this precious piece of history for me....for us.
There had been several watchers, 29 of them, with a total of five different bidders getting their licks in. The item was simply described as a Carnival Glass Napkin Holder. The description stated it was an item in perfect condition. The there was an additional posting from the seller. This time it was frantic with the seller, named Leeanne, exclaiming she did not know how to correct her listing because she had noticed two minute lines in the glass that she hadn't notice before. She even thought she did this "damage" herself when she unwrapped it to answer my questions. Furthermore, she did not know whether or not it was actual damage and needed to ask a friend who was a "carnival glass expert". I emailed her to send me more photos and asked her a few questions. Her responses were not the answers I wanted to hear but I took a chance and hoped for the best.
Lee Anne lived in Florida. She explained the "napkin holder" belonged to her grandmother. Both of her grandparents are deceased so she could not ask them any questions and says they lived in Ohio ever since she could remember. I asked her if her grandmother had traveled to South America or Europe and she told me definitely not South America but she did travel to the UK where she was from. Her maiden name was Una Naomi Anderson and she married into the name "Ramsey". Both surnames are of Scottish and English decent. Una's mother, who was Leeanne's grandmother, was Bertha Mae Mendenhall.
I was still intrigued and just as baffled as Father Talley, working diligently to try to find its pattern name and maker. I looked for clues in her photographs and it was the pattern on the base that really had me convinced that I could find the maker. I recognized it instantly. I distinctly remember seeing it somewhere before in a post on Facebook. Strange enough, it was this feature that made me want to buy it. It was a glimmer of hope that I could someday establish at least a maker by finding a pattern with the same base. I think if the word is out there, someone will discover an item of theirs with the same design and let us know what it is. Here is what it looks like.
It has a 16-ray starred base and in between the rays are ultra thin lines radiating toward the outer edge that have tiny fanned out lines on the ends that signify little brooms.
I searched back a couple of months on several sites to find it but no luck. The closest I could find to this base pattern was on the bottom of my Millersburg Ohio Star vase. The Ohio Star has only six rays, as does the main pattern (which the base pattern was mimicking), but the brooms between each ray were definitely there. The concept is the same. I believe it to be a signature trait of a particular mould maker and may place this tray with Millersburg as a manufacturer. However, it also does not preclude Northwood, Dugan, Imperial, or Fenton as possible makers.
Millersburg Ohio Star vase base with a six-point star with tiny brooms.
Now, moving on to the center motif, I think this medallion is a Coat of Arms. The Iron Cross has flowers between each of its arms with a tiny square placed on its middle that has four windows within it. Each subject in this pattern can be found in a Coat of Arms. This is why I named it "Coat of Arms". Is it Masonic? Is it German? It could be French. Here is an example of a Coat of Arms for reference.
See the Iron Cross, the jewels on the crown (rivets) and Fleur de Lis.
Above is a German Cross like the one shown in the plate's center medallion.
Now, on to the actual shape of it. The sides of this turned up 6-inch plate (6 1/2 from scallop to scallop) are only 2 inches high and aren't tall enough to hold paper napkins as we know them today. Besides, paper napkins were not around a hundred years ago. They started coming into use in the 1930's. The sides are so low it would not even make a good letter holder.
I am not comfortable calling it a banana bowl because it's only a small plate that has been turned up on each side, not an oval shaped bowl. It is so small that one apple would fill it.
The two low ends are only 1/2 inch high. It's flat in the middle so a Victorian calling card or a deck of playing cards would fit perfectly there and stay put. The curved up sides are perfect hand grips.
I have to say Leeanne never once mentioned its demensions in her description. I never did ask her either. I wanted to be surprised, hoping it was a small item. Her photos, the last two shown, gave no indication of its size.
In the very last photo which shows the back side of the plate, it seems as if the pattern is on the back as well at the front. This is only an illusion. The bright gold Fleur de Lis show through from the inside so vividly that they appear to be on the back as well.
It has a very sturdy base at 2 11/16 inches wide (almost 2 3/4"), not likely to tip. I thought this base was unusually large for a small 6" plate. I placed a 6 1/2" Fenton Pinecone plate in amethyst next to it to show how different the size of the bases are. This Pinecone plate has a base width that is only a quarter of an inch shorter but what a big difference that makes.
Plese notice the Pinecone also has a serrated edge called "sawtooth edge", just like the card tray has. The scalloped edges of the tray have five saw teeth per scallop. It is not often we see this edge treatment on a plate. Another clue!
I finally found a trace of three tiny mould lines on the edges of the marie so there are three parts to the mould it was made in.
This pattern is intriguing on so many levels. The rivets circling about could signify jewels but they remind me of English armor, perhaps the rivets on a ship, or the studs on a wooden castle door. It also has odd stippling, lots of stippling, all around the Fleur de Lis.
But why is there only this one reported? Was it a custom piece made for just one family? Did the mould break? Did all the pieces that were made break? I think the most logical explanation is that these plates were created and designed to be used as card trays and pulling up the sides caused damage to most of the pieces they attempted to make. I think the artist managed this prototype or two and abandoned this failed idea. I'll tell you why.
The best part of the purchase is this. The vertical cracks Leeanne saw were actually stress fractures at the curves, found on both sides where the glass was pulled up. These tiny lines were in the making and not damage at all. This is probably why not many were made.
The rest of this cute miniature is in perfect undamaged condition which meant someone took really good care of it. Una Naomi probably owned it most of her life. One thing is for sure, Una would have been pleased to know so many people are enjoying her precious little tray. Thank you Leeanne for presenting this piece of untold history to our circle of inquisitive collectors. We will let you know what we find out about it.
The Christina Katsikas Collection
Here is where I will be placing everyone's comments:
From: Lauren Bush ~ "Hello Christina, I see your're the one who purchased the "napkin holder" off of eBay! Congrats! I had been one of the watchers. I, too, had noticed the base and the pattern it had. It reminded me of my Millersburg Hanging Cherries bowl with the Hobnail back.The pattern looked quite similar. A very intriguing piece you have indeed!"
From: Christina ~ This 10-bowl has 24 Rays on its bottom whereas the small plate has 16 rays. It is exactly the same design! As a matter of fact, this is THE photo of the marie that I thought I saw on Facebook but it turns out it was Lauren's bowl, which I had posted on her collector page, all along! I had remembered this unique pattern when I saw it on eBay because I loved Lauren's bowl so much. Lauren thought the same thing only she knew it was her piece. Go visit her beautiful Millersburg Hanging Cherries bowl here on Showcase! Thank you Lauren for putting me out of my misery. I ransacked the internet looking for this marie and we had it on Showcase all along! Thank you Lauren for speaking up and reaching out to me. You are the best!
From: Dick & Sherry Betker ~ "What a great informative introduction you have given on this very special piece Christina. Awsome JOB!"
From: Brian Foster~ "Amazing pictures and article, Christina! Thank you for contributing. I am glad this very interesting piece found a great home, and I absolutely love the name Coat of Arms."
From: Shirley Harding Henry ~ "Look how tiny she turned out to be! Love it. We will have to give you our card to photograph in your card tray."
From: Tom Burns, Auctioneer ~ "50 years....have not seen this pattern...."
From: Leeanne, eBay seller ~ "What a fantastic article! How exciting! I will keep checking back to see other responses as they come."
From: Christina ~ I would like to remind people that Leeanne's grandmother, Una Naomi Anderson, who owned this plate, lived in Ohio all her life...and you know Ohio is Millersburg Country! Also, Lauren Bush has found the same base pattern on both the Millersburg "Hanging Cherries" and "Vintage" bowls that have the HOBNAIL back pattern ONLY. So, the mould maker who designed the Hobnail back pattern could be the one who also designed the base of the "Coat of Arms".
Photo of Millersburg "Vintage" green bowl with "Hobnail" back pattern courtesy of the Mathias of Wisconsin.
From: Bob Patterson, past owner of Christina's Giant Pagoda Vase, response from Jan. 22, 2018 Fred Stone Carnival Mailing List ~
Congratulations on the Coat of Arms card tray! I was one of the interested parties lusting after it. But like my father told me "Son, don't go hunting bear with a switch." LOL
Anyhow here is my take on the card tray. The edge looks like Fenton's sawtooth edge with the five points between the low points around the edge. Also the size of the marie at 2 3/4" is the same size as several of my Fenton items. It would make sense that if someone were to make a new pattern that they would use a base that matched their existing snap. That way they would save the expense of making a new snap and having confusing sized snaps around the shop. The pattern in the base of the marie on the card tray says to me that it was done at Hipkins Novelty Mould Company. The stippling shown in your close up photos looks like the stippling on my Millersburg glass. I don't know if Fenton used Hipkins for any of their mould work, but if they did, either company could have made it. I could not find any Millersburg items with a 2 3/4" base. Most of their small pieces had a 2 5/8" base. I would put my best guess that it was Millersburg that ordered it. Maybe when they got the mould, it didn't fit their snap and John had Frank make a couple of pieces for him. I can see John not liking what he saw and never went into production with it. Wait, this is starting to sound like a mystery story that I'm making up.
Christina, you and Father Talley are my rivals for unreported pieces of Carnival Glass. I know there are others that like the mystery and wonder of unreported pieces. Some falter when there is no cost base to judge their proposed purchase. I can say that I have had buyers remorse a few times, but I am remorseful that I didn't buy it when I could have!"
From: Charmaine ~ My I enjoyed reading the story and mystery around this Coat of Arms tray! I’m so curious to know the answer now though! To me it seems to have elements of both Fenton and Millersburg, though definitely more Millersburg. Very intriguing!!
From: Christina ~ in response to Bob Patterson ~
Thank you for the nice letter last night. It is nice to hear from you Bob. It has been a few years. I am taking very good care of your Giant Pagoda vase. It still intrigues me every time I see it.
The actual measurement of the marie on the Coat of Arms is 2 11/16 inches wide Bob. It is one sixteenth of an inch short of 2 3/4" to be exact.
Tonight, I made the comparison of my Millersburg "Vintage" sauce bowl with the hobnail back to that of the Coat of Arms plate and found:
a) the marie of is exactly the same width, 2 11/16 on both.
b) there is a 16-ray star with 16 identical broom designs on both.
c) both have a sawtooth edge with 5 sawteeth and then a plain low point between each set...like you said Bob...and if the sauce was flattened out, it would look like the plate with scalloped edges.
d) Ever so faint, I did find 3 mould lines on the edge of the marie on the Coat of Arms after knowing where to look, seeing three on the Vintage as well. This is big!
e) both have blue and pink for iridescence. Both have a matte finish with a shiny, but not radium finish.
f) both have the same exact stippling...the Coat of Arms has it in and around the Fleur de Lis and on the Vintage inside the grape leaves.
g) throw in a few round hobnails, rivets and grapes and well, whoever made them was good at those.
I would say that you are probably right about Millersburg having ordered it. I am not familiar with the Hipkins Novelty Mould Company. I always thought the moulds were made in-house. I didn't know there were separate companies that created moulds for glass manufacturers. Thank you for sharing that with us. I would say at this point, that it is the greatest possibility that Millersburg made Coat of Arms.
As far as buyers remorse Bob, I knew without a doubt I would not live this one down. If it makes you feel better, I knew I would not be home in time to bid on this auction so I left a $500 bid. I was at $270 for the longest time. On the last day, I decided to raise my high bid to $1025. As the day wore on, I started getting nervous and went back and upped the bid to $1525. I got the willies even at that amount thinking I should step it up to $2025, which I did. By the end of my work day, I decided not to leave any doubt because I had to have it. I was beyond the point of no return in my research, and so I left a final high bid of $4000 and let it ride. So, for all those people with buyers remorse, unless you were willing to go over the 4K mark, you would not have won it. If Leeanne did not announce that it may be damaged, it certainly would have gone for much more than it did. I took the chance and made a wish that it was not damaged. One thing for sure, I couldn't take the chance of losing it forever to a private party and never see it again. That's the story worth sharing of "probably", "allegedly", the rarest Millersburg whimsey know today. And the mystery continues!
Thank you so much for your excellent, well thought out response Bob. If you come to the 2018 HOACGA convention in April, it will be in my Banquet Seminar for all to see and hold. Please, don't stop here. I still would like to hear from everyone about their opinions and theories.
From: David Richards (Cumbria UK) ~
Re: Christina's mystery card tray ~
So, who made this and when? Here are my views on the basis of the evidence so far presented.
1. It looks to be a classic era piece: the glass thickness, Matt marigold colouring and shaping all suggest this.
2. The distinctive Marie design is similar to one found on both Millersburg and Eda items, so either of these could be a candidate for its maker.
3. The pattern doesn't suggest a similarity to any other Millersburg patterns I can think of. However it does remind me of several bold symmetrical patterns used by Dugan Diamond, particularly Garden Path Variant, and pre Carnival patterns such as Victor (Jewelled Heart) and Keyhole all of which use similar design elements of dots and arabesque shapes. Given the close ties between Millersburg, Dugan and their mould makers it's quite possible that the same Marie design could have been shared.
4. Although Eda have used a similar Marie design, other factors make me think they are not the makers. I think if this had been made by Eda the pattern would almost certainly be on the back. The glass also seems too thin, and the Matt irridescence is not like Eda's. Furthermore I don't think they produced this card tray shape elsewhere.
5. Having said all the above, I still think there is a strong possibility it was made by Fenton: the reason being that the edge design screams out Fenton. The teeth are square edged and modulated into shallow curves like so many Fenton items such as Butterfly and Berry, Lion and Fentonia. Again Fenton could just have copied the Marie design.
6. We may not ever get a definitive answer to who made this. There is a possibility that the pattern is more than just decorative and was designed to be symbolic of something, perhaps religious, intended for a specific purpose by a bespoke client. If the client decided not to go ahead with it, that would explain why only an odd sample example has turned up.
From: Ellen Richardson, UK ~ To: Christina
Did Millersburg ever do a piece with stippling? I have only ever seen their pieces with the radium finish. That marie/base pattern must be the least used of any as most have either plain maries or many pointed stars with the exception of EDA. Imperial did have a very small number of patterns with a stippled type background. The central pattern on the tray reminds me a little of the Hattie pattern. Here is the photo of the base of my
Blue Encore sugar bowl made by EDA.
From: Christina in response to Ellen Richardson ~ Ellen, I thought the same about Millersburg but they do have many items that are not radium and also items with quite a bit of stippling like Courthouse, Little Stars and Rays & Ribbons to name a few.
The similarites on this Eda product you've show us is uncanny. The little brooms placed between the rays are the same exact concept and much like the Millersburg's Ohio Star's base! Thank you so much for going crazy with me. It has been a very fun ride so far!
From David Richards, Cumbria, UK ~ Hi Christina and Ellen. I suspected my piece on the Oxford Cross Enigma, in CGS UK's newsletter 159 was what you were thinking of. Not the same, but it might be pertinent if this item was also designed to incorporate significant symbolism rather than just a decorative pattern, and as I see it at present it either could be the case. The outer elements are like a three lobed shamrock leaf, or a Persian budded cross, which in Christian iconography represents the Holy Trinity, smaller versions of the three lobed elements are repeated in the central circle. The central circle also has the rough format of a square or Greek cross. So one possibility may be that this was an item intended for a religious purpose - perhaps for some sort of ceremony in a church, or to hold religious items. Even if it's only decorative, the shapes and symbols used may indicate that the designer was influenced by this heritage, and that probably points to an Eastern European background; this would be equally possible if the item were created by a US immigrant, or by someone living in Eastern Europe. But who was it made by? Given the added factor of the distinctive Marie I think it could be Eda or a US company (not necessarily Millersburg).