Antiques and Art Around Florida — 2011-2012
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Exploring A Favorite Depression Glass Pattern
Barbara E. Mauzy

Cherry Blossom

by Jeannette Glass Company

co-author of Mauzy’s Depression Glass
7th edition
Jeannette Glass Company History

Located in the center of West more land County, Pennsylvania, about 25 miles east of Pittsburgh and in the south west corner of the state, the community of Jeannette bears the name of the wife of H. Sellers McKee, one of the first owners of McKee Glass Works. No other single town in America produced more glassware than Jeannette, with a fortuitous location near the Pennsylvania Railroad and rich in the natural resources - coal, coke, and natural gas - needed to support the production of glass. In fact, this area was so rich in natural resources that Westmoreland County was a center for the production of steel, rubber, brick, aluminum, lumber, and more. United States Census Bulleting No. 163 issued in 1902 indicated that the county had 624 manufacturing businesses, indeed a significant number for a rural area.

The application for a charter to start the town of Jeannette was approved in 1887, the town was plotted in April 1888, and by April 1889 four thousand individuals already called Jeannette “home.” This town, along with nearby Arnold and Mt. Pleasant, became one of the most important locations for glass production in the United States.

The Jeannette Bottle Works began operations in 1888 and after several changes of ownership became the Jeannette Glass Company in 1898. It was one of seven large glass factories in or right near the community: The American Window Glass Company, The Pittsburgh Lamp, Brass and Glass Company, The Westmoreland Specialty Company, The Clifford- Chappelle Fan Company, The Fort Pitt Glass Company, and McKee Brothers' Works which eventually became the McKee-Jeannette Glass Works.

Apothecary, beverage, and other bottles were handmade at Jeannette Bottle Works, but with the introduction of the O’Neill semi-automatic bottle blowing machine in 1899 Jeannette first expanded production to include wide-mouth jars and then to lens covers, glass blocks, and more.

In 1917 American 3-Way Luxfer Prism Company bought controlling interest of the Jeannette Bottle Works and the entire plant was converted to the manufacture of pressed ware. It is this pressed glassware that most collectors think of when considering Jeannette products, and in fact Cherry Blossom is among the most recognizable Jeannette pressed patterns along with Iris and Floral.

Two important facts are worth noting as one considers the history of glass manufacturing before the Great Depression of 1929: colorful, hand blown glass dinnerware had already become available at prices only the wealthy could afford, and across the United States more than one hundred factories were engaged in the glass making business. The invention of equipment that created massproduced, machine-pressed glassware brought the price to create colored dinnerware to such a low cost that it could be given away free with the purchase of a good or service, hence the initiation of what is now referred to as “Depression Glass.” By the end of the Depression more than half of the American glass factories had closed, but those engaged in the production of this cheaply manufactured dinnerware and accessories were able to survive, and Jeannette Glass Company was among these successful enterprises.

Manufacturing of glassware continued for decades with the peak of production being in 1930. Jeannette Glass Company bought McKee, which had become a division of Thatcher Glass Manufacturing Company in 1961 and moved into their factory in 1962. The factory was closed in 1983.

The Cherry Blossom Pattern

Some Depression Glass patterns were so successful that they were produced for fifteen years or more like the Jeannette Glass Company pattern Windsor which was in production from 1932-1946. Cherry Blossom thrived for ten years, 1930-1939, and was made in a rainbow of color choices. The most commonly-found transparent colors are pink and green; crystal is very difficult to find and in great demand. There are rarities in yellow and a variety of pieces in Delphite, an opaque blue color. The most elusive pieces of Cherry Blossom are those made in jade-ite.

There are more than forty different pieces of Cherry Blossom, and most of these are all dinnerware. There are no bathroom or kitchen pieces as is the norm for most Jeannette dinnerware lines.

Reproductions complicate the joy of collecting Depression Glass. The one pattern with the largest quantity of reproductions is Cherry Blossom, which is truly an indication that this is a universally-appealing pattern. The retailer Miles Kimball Has a website which offers three pages of reproduction Depression Glass, and there are several pieces of “new” Cherry Blossom. All of these reproductions are discussed in greater detail in Mauzy’s Depression Glass, 7th edition. Cherry Blossom was made with round and scalloped feet, so one must look beyond that characteristic to determine legitimacy. The earliest footed pieces were produced with round bases; scalloped feet followed. Pink was made throughout the entire time Jeannette produced Cherry Blossom, but green was terminated around 1935, which leaves us with more pink than green. Cherry Blossom was never made in cobalt blue or red; anything found in these colors is new.

Continuing the discussion of reproductions, you must assume any shakers you find while out and about are new. First generation reproduction salt and pepper shakers were done with a high degree of accuracy with good quality glass. You might find “77” on the bottom of shakers produced by AA Importing whose website describes this company as “Suppliers of antique reproductions for the home furnishings and gift industry.” The earliest reproduction shakers are clearly superior to the new ones, and the “77” might indicate the year of manufacture, 1977. A similar numeric in the mold distinguishes new Madrid from the old.

Exploring color and Cherry Blossom, we know you will enjoy the jadeite pieces belonging Carolyn and Glen Robinson that are presented in Mauzy’s Depression Glass, 7th edition. Jim and I can now document seventeen different pieces in jade-ite Cherry Blossom and you get to see a few of them here.

Original boxes are a wonderful way to understand the distribution of vintage glassware and several examples are provided here. The “Child’s Junior Dinner Set” is still relatively common in boxes, particularly online, which is why the values have declined over the past dozen or so years. However, other boxed sets of Cherry Blossom are jewels.

There are many reasons to love Cherry Blossom, and many reasons to be hesitant to start a collection of a pattern with so many reproduction issues. If you shop with a Mauzy handbook you will always have the reproduction information at hand. To update to the latest edition of Mauzy’s Depression Glass and/or Mauzy’s Comprehensive Handbook of Depression Glass Prices, contact me at: TPTT@aol.com or at PO Box 1417 Kitty Hawk, NC 27949.

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