Gone Fishing…For Millersburg Fish
By Barb Chamberlain
Have you ever thought about the Millersburg fish patterns? I’m sure that many of you have. I am far from an expert on Millersburg glass, but I am going to explore Big Fish, Trout and Fly, and the Seacoast pin tray. What do they all have in common? The fish, of course.
As I’m sure that you all know, the Trout and Fly has a fly just out of reach of the trout attempting to catch it. Sometimes the fly is hard to distinguish. Now, guess what, the Big Fish doesn’t have the fly, which it makes it easy enough to differentiate from the Trout and Fly pattern. The Seacoast pin tray has a fish leaping out of the water in front of a lighthouse.
The fish on each piece look essentially the same. They have the same shape to the body, all facing in the same direction, and have their mouths open.
I would make a guess that the molds were all made by the same mold maker. We know that Millersburg enjoyed making molds in several different sizes and this might have contributed to the demise of the company, since producing molds was an expensive proposition.
Some of you might suggest that the Big Fish and Trout and Fly are basically the same pattern for which they needed a new mold because the other was worn and wouldn’t produce a distinct pattern any more. If they were trying to copy the old mold, they certainly made the floral and leaf patten look different. They used similar flowers and leaves, but the Big Fish seems to have a denser pattern.
The Big Fish also seems to be swimming in water, or more water, (which shows in the center of the piece), whereas the Trout and Fly has very little water. Enter the fish on the Sunflower pin tray. This fish appears to have water behind him, which would be natural with the lighthouse in the background. There are no flowers or leaves on the Seacoast. You will notice that on some of the Seacoast pieces that the lighthouse is more in- distinct that on others. I’m sure that would be attributed to wear on the mold.
Trout and Fly pieces probably were made from the same mold. They were reshaped after being re- moved from the mold. Ruffled, three-in-one, ice cream shape, round, square, and diamond shapes were produced, as well as a few very rare plates that were flattened after leaving the mold.
The Big Fish pattern was made only in a bowl. Now there were variations in shapes of the bowls which happened after it came from the mold. Ruffled, ice cream shape, three in one, square, diamond shape, tricorner, and rosebowl were all made from the same mold. Not all the shapes were made in all the colors. Amethyst, green, and marigold were the normal colors, but a very few vaseline have sold.
The fish appear pretty much the same. The Trout and Fly, top left, Big Fish, top right, and Seacoast, bottom.You also can see more water on the Big Fish.
You can almost see the fly just off the fish’s mouth on the Trout and Fly, left.
Seacoast pieces are only found in one shape, the pintray. They are also only known in amethyst, green, and marigold. All colors are very collectible. One of the nicest things about them is that they are small and easy to find a place for them to display, no matter how small your display area is.
The Trout and Fly plate, above left, is an extremely hard piece to find. No plates are known at this time in the Big Fish pattern, above right.
The green Seacoast pintray above is typical of this pattern.
If you would like to share any of your Millersburg fish pieces, please email the photos and a bit of explanation to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send photos and write-up to me at 124 E. Honey Creek Dr., Manchester, IA 52057, and I will include them in a future issue of The Carnival Pump.
This article first appeared in the ICGA Pump in the March 2022 issue and is reprinted with permission.