Dear Helaine and Joe:
I am a devoted follower of your articles in my local newspaper.
I was wondering if you could tell me something about this vase, or at least point me in the right direction.
Dear G. M.:
We are always glad to hear from a “devoted” reader and are so glad you enjoy our efforts.
As for this blue vase — the first picture we saw was a rather blah view of the back, but then we opened the second photograph and found the front was decorated with a charming image of a little girl wearing a hat, holding a cup or perhaps a basket.
She is depicted in white enamel standing in a white landscape against the blue background of the glass.
This type of glassware is often referred to as being “Mary Gregory,” a name that refers to an American decorator of glass who is said to have worked at the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company in Sandwich, Mass.
Gregory was born in 1856 and died in 1906, but while there was indeed a Mary Gregory who decorated glass at Boston and Sandwich, she was not known to have painted this type of decoration.
It is thought that the term Mary Gregory was attached to this type of ware in the 1920s, and it is further speculated the culprit for this blatant misidentification was the Westmoreland Glass Company of Grapeville, Pa.
The company began marketing a line of glassware decorated with Victorian children done in white enamel in the 1920s, and some think they chose the Mary Gregory name as a marketing ploy.
Now, do not get us wrong _ glass decorated with white or pinkish white images of Victorian children (and adults) playing were made in the 19th century, but they were manufactured largely in England, Bohemia (the modern-day Czech Republic) and Italy.
The white images of children were supposed to resemble expensive hand-cut cameo glass but were really produced much more inexpensively by enameling.
We believe the piece in today’s question was made in Bohemia sometime during the last quarter of the 19th century primarily because of the color of the glass and quality of the enameling.
If the bottom has a rough pontil scar that appears to be slightly pushed up into the body of the vase so the jagged edges of the scar will not scratch a surface, the vase is probably Bohemian in origin.
The monetary value of the pieces depends on several factors with three of the most important being color of the background glass, quality of the painting and the particular activity of the child, children, adult or adults depicted.
Colors include cranberry, ruby, cobalt, light blue, gray, clear colorless, green, amethyst, black and amber.
The cranberry, ruby, cobalt and amethyst are quite popular. Activities to look for include, tennis, butterfly catching, ball playing, fishing, flower picking and chasing bubbles.
The blue of this vase is rather standard, the action is not very exciting and we do not know the size of this piece so we cannot offer a firm appraisal. But if this vase is a good size, it should have an insurance value in the $200 to $250 range.