Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pitkin Flask Display

Pitkin-type flask display at the Museum of Connecticut Glass. June 17, 2017.
The June open house at the Museum of Connecticut Glass hosted a unique display of about 30 Pitkin-type flasks, plus some related bottles and inkwells. Dana Charlton-Zarro, a well-regarded specialist in this style of early American glass, was kind enough to bring up a portion of her fabulous collection for the open house, and to stay around to share her extensive knowledge of the bottles.

Dana's collection focuses on New England Pitkin-type flasks, many of which were indeed made at the Pitkin Glass Works, though more or less identical bottles were produced by the Coventry, Mather, Glastenbury and probably Willington glass factories in Connecticut, as well as in New Hampshire factories. Glassware in the same general style was produced in Mid Atlantic and Midwestern glass works, though the forms, colors and rib counts of New England Pitkins seem to be fairly distinctive.

The process of blowing Pitkin-type flasks was complex and required multiple steps executed by a skilled craftsman. Various modern glass studios, including Pairpoint on Cape Cod, have attempted to recreate New England Pitkins, though the delicate patterns and eggshell-thin glass of better antique flasks seems to be very difficult to replicate. At some point, probably around 1820, Pitkin-type flasks went out of production, replaced by sunburst flasks and other styles of embossed bottles blown in two part metal molds, in a much less technically demanding procedure.

Dana Charlton-Zarro (with flask) explains the finer points of Pitkin-type flasks to some Museum visitors.

The gaffer had some difficulties with this bottle: some sections of the sides got folded over and stuck to themselves during the blowing process.

Some smaller Pitkin flasks, between four and five inches tall. Pitkins below five inches tall (or more than seven inches) are relatively rare.

Pitkin type inkwells. The squared-off example (center left) was probably expanded in a dip mold for snuffs, and was recovered from a Connecticut stream bank relatively recently. The "cross-swirled" example (center right), with ribs curved to the left and to the right, is also very rare.

Some more special Pitkins: pint and half-pint examples in a blue-green color, with barely any hint of olive (the color is more blue in person), and a greenish, wide, flattened bottle with very tight ribbing.

No comments:

Post a Comment