Thursday, January 5, 2017

Heckler Winter 2017 Auction

GIII-5 pint Cornucopia / Urn flask.
Norman C. Heckler & Co. is running an absentee auction (Select Auction 145) this month, and as usual there are some interesting pieces of Connecticut glass on offer. At first glance, the flask above looks like the common (as 180+ year old American bottles go) GIII-4 from Coventry, but there is a circular depression in the middle of the urn, and collectors consider it to be a separate mold, GIII-5. The source of GIII-5 is uncertain, but given it's similarities to a known Coventry Glass Works bottle, it is quite possibly another Coventry product. This flask is listed as "scarce," meaning about 35-75 examples exist, and I would guess that the number of GIII-5s in the world is probably towards the lower end of that range.

GIII-5 obverse.
The cornucopia side of GIII-5 is also distinct from the common GIII-4, but in a less obvious way, with a somewhat irregular depression on the horn. Aside from these depressed areas, the 4 and the 5 appear to be identical.

GIII-5 base.
It's impossible to know for certain, but I suspect that GIII-5 actually was made in a GIII-4 mold, in the latter part of the mold's useful existence when it had accumulated damage, repairs or modifications that are responsible for the depressions on the urn and cornucopia. Similar, circular to irregular, depressions occur on occasional examples of the GI-81 pint Lafayette / liberty cap, and since half of the mold has survived to the present day, the defects in the mold that produced the variant flasks could be examined. The unlisted Connecticut sunburst flask in a previous Heckler sale could be an analogous situation, blown in a modified or deteriorating GVIII-3 mold. A pair of Pitkin Glass Works sunbursts are another candidate for this type of explanation, with GVIII-5a representing the original mold and GVIII-7 being the variant, almost identical except for a pair of faint circles added to one face.

Free flown New England chestnut bottle, light blue-green color.
The auction includes quite a few New England free blown bottles, both chestnut and globular forms. Some of the larger examples have cracks, cooling fissures or potstones with "radiations" (stress cracks); such imperfections seem to be very frequent with big chestnut bottles. The example above is a rarer color, either light blue-green or a very dark aquamarine. Glass in this color was produced at most early Connecticut glass works, but not in anything close to the quantities that murkier olive/amber/yellow/green glass was made.

GI-80 Coventry pint Lafayette / Dewitt Clinton flask, with rare Moxie bottle.
One of the pricier items in this sale will probably be a just about perfect, delicately colored Lafayette / Dewitt Clinton pint flask from the Coventry Glass Works (GI-80). This is another scarce flask, though based on the number that turn up, probably on the more numerous side of scarce. The small, early Moxie bottle with applied top is not too bad, either.

GII-66 quart eagle / New London Glass Works flask.
The New London Glass Works (1856-65) technically fall outside of Connecticut's quiet corner, but were another manufacturer of figured flasks in the eastern part of the state. The large, quart size GII-66 eagle flask is a rare bottle, though this specimen in aquamarine glass and with a smooth base is not quite as desirable as the pontiled examples in clear shades of green and amber that exist. New London was active later than most of the Connecticut glass factories that I write about, and generally produced a more refined type of bottle glass than that made by Coventry or Pitkin. Glass in nearly colorless aquamarine, or the bright, clean colors seen in some New London bottles is rare or absent from the products of the early 19th century Connecticut glass works.