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The Closing of Steuben Glass marks the sad end of an era

Post Time:Jan 13,2012Classify:Company NewsView:359

When the Steuben Glass Store on Madison Ave in New York City, sells the last of its collection, the business will forever shutter its doors. "People will have to go to auctions to purchase Steuben Glass in the future," explained collector Andrew Marconi. That’s one of the reasons why he will sell seventy-five Steuben pieces from his extensive collection, which dates from 1910 through the present, at "Steuben Remembered: A Collection of Glass Made No More" show and sale. Held at the Antique Row’s Show of Hands Gallery, 1006 Pine Street, the sale will run from January 14th through March 3rd.


"It’s the second show Andrew has had here," said Paul Harris, who owns the Show of Hands Gallery, which specializes in Venetian and Swedish mid-century modern glass. "Last year’s show [of Steuben Glass] sold out completely," Harris explained. Subsequently, it seemed like a good move to host another show considering the fact that the factory, which designs and produces Steuben glass had already closed.


The closure of Steuben Glass "is very sad for collectors and very sad for the country," Marconi said, explaining that through the Obama Administration, the President would receive a Steuben Glass Inaugural Bowl. Honoring Heads of State with gifts of Steuben Glass became a tradition in 1947 when President Truman gave the Steuben Glass Merry-Go-Round Bowl to the then Princess Elizabeth as a wedding gift. "Since then, Steuben became the official gift from the United States to Heads of State. In fact Princess Diana and Prince Charles received more Steuben glass than any other branded gift," Marconi explained.


Steuben Glass was founded by British born Frederick Carder, a self-trained chemist, physicist, draftsman, and pottery artisan in 1903 when Carder met with Thomas E. Hawkes, the president of the Corning Company. Hawkes offered to establish a glass factory for Carder, who named it Steuben Glass after the county where the business was located. Carder designed the glass works, supervised its production and even dictated sales polices. The early work specialized in colorful Art Nouveau glass. From 1903 through 1932, more than 100 colors were used and over 8,000 products were designed. During that time, Steuben Glass became part of Corning Glass Works in 1918.


Steuben Glass became more of a luxury item in 1932 when Corning researchers designed the 10M glass. With highly refractive qualities, the 10M glass allowed an entire light wave spectrum to pass through it. The 10M glass later became known as Steuben Crystal. Besides gifts to Heads-of-State, brides often received gifts of Steuben Glass when they married. In fact, at one time, the postal service would deliver gifts of Steuben Glass for free, Marconi relayed. "But it just became too much of a luxury item," Marconi continued as to why the business began to collapse after the economic downturn of 2008. Beyond the fact that the demand for Steuben Glass declined, "it was a very expensive product to make," said Marconi, citing the cost of the high lead content used to make the transparent glass. Not to mention the time associated with the training process. "It takes fifteen years for someone to become a master glass blower," Marconi explained, adding that many would retire after only ten years as master glass blowers, meaning that they would only spend a total of twenty-five years in the industry.


The items sold from Marconi’s collection will range in price from $95-$1,000. All of the pieces on sale include the name of their designer. Several-respected designer such as Peter Aldridge, David Dowler, Ted Mueling and Sidney Waugh produced Steuben Glass. And for Marconi, who began his collection as a high school student in 1956, "Steuben created distinctive designs and adhered to the hand methods of polishing and forming [as well as] engraving fine art glass. I believe Steuben produced some of the finest glass I have ever seen."


The Show of Hands Gallery is open every day except Tuesdays from noon-6 p.m.

Source: http://weeklypress.comAuthor: shangyi

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