2019.09.24 Tuesday Stretch
Cal here for another Tuesday s-t-r-e-t-c-h, so stand up and take a good, solid stretch. Now, that feels better, doesn’t it? As Dave mentioned a couple weeks ago, there is not much stretch that shows any opalescence. He showed you some of the pieces that we typically point to when showing examples of stretch glass with opalescence. Tonight I am going to concentrate on the Curtain Optic and Rib Optic pieces. These are among the most desired examples of stretch glass by many collectors and are, to some extent, among the more challenging items to find.
When it comes to Curtain Optic and Rib Optic pitchers and tumblers, there are 3 distinct shapes and, in one of those shapes, there are 3 different sizes; in addition these are found with topaz or cobalt blue handles or without handles. A pitcher without a handle (and spout) is, of course, a vase and there are a number of these known. A tumbler with a handle becomes a ‘mug.’ Fenton made all the glass we are going to talk about tonight and gave the items #s. I’m not going to get into the #s but rather just talk about the sizes and shapes and handles, or lack thereof. Not all items were made in all sizes or in both Curtain and Rib Optic. Let’s take a look.
Let’s start with the ‘reverse-hourglass’ shape. Curtain Optic is the ‘pattern’ pictured here. While an hourglass is wider on top and bottom and narrower in the middle, these pitchers and tumblers are narrower at the top and bottom and wider in the middle. This shape was a popular one for Fenton and iced tea or lemonade sets in various non-opal colors exist in much larger quantities than do the ones in Curtain Optic. I do not believe Rib Optic was made in this shape. The set pictured would be appropriate for iced tea, lemonade or a similar beverage (as opposed to juice) and it is the only size known in Curtain Optic in this shape (Pitchers are 10 1/8” tall and tumblers are 5 1/8” tall). The pitchers are known with both topaz and cobalt handles (not iridized) and the tumblers also are known as mugs when they have handles. The handles on the mugs are topaz (not iridized). I don’t recall the mugs being known with cobalt handles, but it is certainly possible that some exist since this combination was made by Fenton in other topaz stretch glass. Vases in this shape are not known to me. To sum up, Curtain Optic ‘reverse-hourglass’ shape pitchers and tumblers are known in this larger size and either have cobalt or topaz handles; mugs are known with topaz handles. Vases are not known in the ‘reverse-hourglass’ shape.
As you can see, a set is quite attractive. The set pictured has coasters under the tumblers and a base, rather than a coaster, under the pitcher. These bases are found in cobalt and are the correct size for the base of the pitcher. There are also coasters for the pitcher; they are similar to a low bowl but have ribs on the inside of the bottom to elevate the pitcher out of the water which is created from the condensation on the pitcher. Typically, the coasters are cobalt but topaz coasters also exist. In the set pictured, the base and coasters are cobalt even though the handle of the pitcher is topaz. IF this set included 6 topaz handled mugs, one might be inclined to use topaz coasters under the mugs so that the coasters match the color of the handles. I am not aware of a base or coaster for the pitcher in topaz, so that would be cobalt out of necessity. The coasters and bases are challenging to obtain and are often NOT with the pitchers and tumblers/mugs. The coaster for the pitcher is only known to me in cobalt; Mugs are much harder to find than tumblers. In contrast, in my experience, these Curtain Optic pitchers and tumblers are more available than any of the other stretch glass we will be discussing tonight.
Let’s go on to the ‘rings’ shape. Fenton made both Curtain Optic and Rib Optic with rings in the lower portion of the molds for the pitchers, tumblers and vases. It is not going to be possible to explore all of these tonight but I will comment on some of the items known. Let’s start with the pitchers and tumblers, which were produced in 3 sizes, let’s call them small, medium and large. The large items are similar in size to the ‘reverse hourglass’ items discussed above. The small size sets are more appropriate for juice, with the pitcher being 8 1/4” tall; the matching tumbler is 3 1/2” tall. The medium height pitcher is 9 1/4” tall and is the most challenging to obtain. As with the ‘reverse hourglass’ shape, the Curtain Optic ‘ring’ pitchers are known with cobalt and topaz handles; I am not aware of any mugs aka handled tumblers in the rings shape. There are 2 shapes of tumblers known, one is rather straight-sided and the other is a closer match to the shape of the ‘ring’ pitchers (both are pictured). It is unclear to me whether both shapes of tumblers exist in all three sizes as we do not have all of these items documented in photographs.
In the Rib Optic ‘pattern,’ the opalescence appears as vertical ribs. In addition to the three sizes of pitchers and tumblers, Fenton also made the straight-sided juice tumbler with rings in Rib Optic. They also made three sizes of vases (from the same mold as the pitchers). In some cases the vases have cobalt ring handles, in other cases there is a ring of cobalt glass on the top edge of the vase, in some cases there are both of these and in a few cases there is no cobalt decoration. Here are a few photos of known vases: