Ask About Antiques/The Consolidated Lamp and Glass Company: Just Like Phoenix Glass?
by Budd A. Moore, Ed.D.
The Consolidated Lamp and Glass Company was formed in Fostoria, Ohio in 1893 from the merger of the Fostoria Shade and Lamp Company with Wallace and McAffee Company. They moved to Coraopolis when their glassworks burned down only two years later. In the 1890s they produced some art glass vases and bowls, but for many years their main production was high quality lamps, globes and shades.
In 1925 Reuben Haley, a glass designer, left U.S. Glass and set up his own design company in space rented from Consolidated. That same year the famous Paris Exposition Internationale des Art Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes took place and afterwards a selection of 400 objects from this Art Deco exhibition toured several cities in the USA. This traveling exhibition included a large number of glass items by Rene Lalique, and created a demand for similar types of glass in the USA.
Reuben Haley persuaded Consolidated to produce glassware to his designs, some of which were direct copies of Lalique pieces (i.e. the Love Birds vase which copies Lalique’s Perruches vase, and the Bird of Paradise vase which copies Lalique’s Aras vase). Consolidated produced a range of truly beautiful art glass vases which they called their Martele Hand Wrought Art Glass. These designs, like the Foxglove vase, were sometimes also called Selden line glass (after Howard Selden who held exclusive marketing rights for a time). This glass is highly prized by collectors today.
Also during the 1920s, Consolidated produced and marketed art glass based on old Spanish designs (which they called Catalonian glass) and acid etched designs (called Florentine) amongst others. Their second great success was with their bold, angular, Ruba Rombic designs, introduced in 1928. These designs have become highly collectable too.
In 1932 the depression was badly affecting this glassworks, and the owners decided to close down temporarily to stop their losses. Reuben Haley had rights to the molds he had designed. He died in 1933 and his son Kenneth transferred the molds to Phoenix Glassworks where he was employed so that the production could continue. Phoenix made these Martele designs under the name Phoenix Reuben-Line from 1933 to 1936 when Consolidated reopened and recalled their molds. Phoenix also produced their own designs in a very similar kind of glass which they marketed as Sculptured glass, and just to add to the confusion, their glass was also known as Selden line glass as it was marketed by Howard Selden.
However, Consolidated Lamp and Glass Company and the Phoenix Glass Company were quite separate companies at all stages. In fact, a sure way to tell the two sculptured glass products apart is to realize that Consolidated’s pieces had the raised pattern decorated, and Phoenix glass sculptured pieces had the background of the designs decorated.
Consolidated continued to produce their Martele designs until the company closed down in 1963. Until the end they were still producing lighting products, and many of the Martele vases were also offered as lamp bases.
Since the company closed down there have been some sources of reproduction Martele glass. Sinclair Glass in Indiana obtained some of the original Martele molds and produced some milk glass and plain crystal pieces in the late 1960s. Westclair, part of the Sinclair Company, introduced some designs in the late 1980s with very similar designs to Consolidated’s Martele. Fenton Art Glass made their own mold of the Consolidated Dogwood vase and marketed reproductions in 1984 (these have the Fenton logo on the base, but it may be feint). Most books on American Art Glass include at least some information about Consolidated. Consolidated glass vs. Phoenix Glass... See if you can tell the difference.
Auction Action: [Recently sold at Matt Hurley’s Legacy Auction Center, 2800 Buchanan Trail East, Greencastle, Pa. 17225]
* John Bell Milk Pitcher, $1250
* Lionhead Upholstered Chair, $600
* Oak China Closet, $500
* Waterfall Bedroom Suite, $420
* Walnut Tilt-Top Table, $360
* Walnut Whatnot Shelf, $360
Moore, Ed.D., is a specialist in the valuation of antique and collectable objects of the last 100 years. He is an educator, counselor, and avid antique enthusiast as well as a candidate member of the American Society of Appraisers. He has been a collector of antique American Art Pottery and has been a dealer for over 20 years. He is familiar with nearly all lines of American Art Pottery, twentieth century glassware, Art Deco, and Art Nouveau categories. If you have a question about antiques or collectibles, you can e-mail him at BUDD3420@comcast.net. An answer to your question may appear in a subsequent column.