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2021.11.16 Tuesday Stretch

Welcome to Tuesday Stretch. Cal here. The circle of life theme is getting some interesting interpretations. Collecting for me has always been about the people from whom my “stuff” comes.

My paternal grandmother got me started at around 12 years old with this EAPG rose bowl (“Gala” aka “Hawaiian Lei” by Higbee, for those of you who know EAPG). Today I have in excess of 200 pieces of the pattern. Whenever I use it or look at it I think fondly of my time with her. The same is true with my other collections.

My interest in stretch glass came about when a work colleague passed away and his family needed to dispose of his accumulation of Fenton, Vaseline, Stretch and other glass. I ended up buying most of it, including this Fenton Ruby punch bowl (I later added the base), and I fell in love with stretch glass. My first trip to a Stretch Glass Society convention sealed the deal and I have been a fan ever since. Now my stretch glass collection includes stretch glass from many other collectors, some of whom are no longer with us. I know which pieces came from which collectors and if I happen to have a memory lapse, my inventory will generally refresh my recollection as I record the source of each purchase. Tonight I will share a few of those pieces with you because I think of these examples of stretch glass as continuing the circle of life – the friends we meet along the way and the memories we create with them. And some day, these items will move on to the collections of others and the circle of life will continue. We are only custodians of our glass and other possessions; it is our glass only for a short period of time so we have a solemn duty to take good care of it and make sure that it is in good shape for the next custodian.

Bill Crowl – he needs no introduction; he was a legend in his own time. One of my first purchases from him was this Fenton Florentine Green punch bowl. Later on I purchased this Fenton topaz ribbed vase, which I had passed up on a field at Brimfield. He denied purchasing it when I asked him later in the day, but several years later the vase emerged from one of his brown bags and I bought it from him. One last item of particular note is a Fenton Tangerine butterball tray. To be able to purchase this item I had to prove to Bill that he had two of them. So, on a hot summer day after shopping at Renninger’s, Bill and I took the boxes of his Tangerine ‘collection’ and spread it all out on the tarmac in front of his storage unit. Once it was all out, the duplicates were obvious. He allowed me to purchase all the duplicates which gave me a great start on a collection of Tangerine stretch glass. I could fill pages and pages with images of stretch glass I purchased from him and stories of how the purchases were made, but then, couldn’t we all?

Fred and Arna Simpson – were long time members of The Stretch Glass Society and amassed a sizeable collection of stretch glass. One year they showed up at our convention with a set of 6 Fenton Wisteria Nut Cups in the original box. Fred didn’t like the fact that he had all the same color nut cups; he wanted one of each color. I gladly offered to trade one of duplicates – I think it was Florentine Green – for one of his Wisteria ones. He agreed and we were both happy campers. Another time he showed up with this Northwood Emerald Green ribbed comport. I was fascinated by it and he was kind enough to sell it to me during the convention. Much later, after both Fred and Arna had passed on, I was privileged of purchasing more of their stretch glass, including this very large “Pomona” US Glass serving plate, and much of it is in my collection now.

Berry Wiggins – to me, Berry was the ultimate authority on stretch glass. I had his phone number and would call him regularly when I was out shopping. This was before the days of texting and sending photos via your phone. No matter what I described to him, he always knew what I was talking about and he would tell me whether to buy the item(s) and how much I should pay for them. I made some interesting purchases with his help including a single Vineland pink candlestick which was offered for sale as a piece of Imperial art glass and did not look pink at all. After I ‘educated’ the dealer (after having consulted with Berry by phone), the dealer said, “you obviously know more about this than I do, so tell me what the price should be.” I gave them the price Berry had given me and a deal was made (sorry, no photo available at this time). Later on when Berry published the books on Northwood glass, including several pages of stretch glass, I asked him if the glass pictured in the books was for sale. “Yes, if you are willing to pay the price given in the book,” he said. I made my purchase immediately, selecting this Custard candy jar, and a few other pieces of custard stretch glass, a few vases and several other items. When it came time for him to deliver the glass, he said, “Well, I made a mistake telling you that you could buy this blue vase – it is the only one known – but since I told you it was for sale, it is now yours.” That was a big day for me.