Confusing Pattern Names: Problems and Solutions




                   Historical Background

Although cut-glass catalogs-as-evidence are scarce, it is apparent that, by the early nineteenth century, it was a usual practice for cutting shops to number the various pieces of cut glass that they had for sale — a logical step to bring order to their inventories. Because the variety of shapes (blanks) was limited at this time, a separate series of numbers for them was not necessary. A particular number referred to the entire item, both pattern and shape. A good example of this practice is a series of sketches that accompanied master-cutter Samuel Miller as he worked at various cutting shops in Great Britain and Ireland during the 1820s. These patterns were possibly shown to prospective customers, although the written descriptions that accompany them suggest that their main use was to guide the shops’ glass cutters (Westropp 1978, pp. 56, 64; Warren 1981, pp. 43-51).

The earliest American cut-glass catalog that is extant is a catalog and price list published by the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company about 1874 (note 1). It is also the earliest example of a photographic catalog of glass items in this country. Each photographic plate is numbered (1 to 80) and typically shows cut-glass tableware arranged on three or four shelves. The price list, keyed to the photo plates, contains detailed descriptions of the glassware. Identification numbers, therefore, are not usually necessary and generally are not used.

Because an earlier pressed-glass catalog, dating from c1868, is available for the New England Glass Company, it has been suggested that cut glass from this company at this time “must have been shown in another format” (note 2). Such a catalog has yet to surface. If it exists, it would probably contain engraved images, possibly based on photographs. This has been suggested as the process that was used to produce the c1868 NEGC catalog of pressed glass (note 3).

Although catalogs are lacking, cut-glass items were advertised for sale in regional newspapers of the day. Patterns that were particularly popular were often given names. For example, by 1850 it was possible to order a cut-glass version of the pressed-glass Ashburton pattern, which was named in honor of “Alexander Baring, Lord Ashburton, one of the most popular English diplomats ever to come to the United States.” (Spillman 1989, p. 58). During the early 1870s Mt. Washington marketed Ashburton both as a named pattern and as pattern no. 71. Popular pressed-glass patterns such as Palace, Union, New York, etc. probably all had their cut-glass versions, named and/or numbered, but a comprehensive survey of them has yet to be undertaken.

Numbered or named patterns sometimes were preceeded by the word “cut” to distinguish them from their pressed-glass counterparts, if any. Gradually, this custom was phased out, although at least one company, J. Hoare & Company, continued to use the “cut” prefix until late in the century.

Although most cutting shops had changed their numbered patterns to named patterns by the mid-1880s, a few — L. Straus & Sons was one — continued to use both numbers and names for many years. In addition, new patterns were sometimes numbered, not named. Apparently it was not always an easy matter to choose a name that would have wide appeal.

As the number of different shapes (blanks) increased during the nineteenth century, they too were usually given a separate series of numbers. In addition, some companies honored individual employees and preferred customers by using their names for particular shapes, for example Lum and Tiffany. This practice was quite limited, however. Today, collectors hope to discover shape numbers in order to accumulate the greatest possible amount of evidence for use in identifying a particular cut-glass manufacturer. (An effort has been made at this Web site to include shape (blank) numbers, along with pattern names, whenever possible.) 

                   Assigned or “Coined” Names

The greatest confusion concerning pattern names undoubtedly occurs when a pattern suddenly changes its name. Out with the old, in with the new! What almost invariably happens is that a temporary name, one that was assigned, or “coined,” earlier for an unknown pattern, is no longer valid because the pattern’s actual factory name has been discovered, most commonly in one of the company’s heretofor unknown catalogs. Regrettably, the assigned name sometimes fails to yield to the new name. Although the assigned name is no longer appropriate, it is possible to find many in use several years after they had officially been replaced. (This Web site errs in this direction by providing both assigned and official names for several of the patented patterns produced by L. Straus & Sons. We have done this in order to provide a “bridge;” several of the new Straus names are unfamiliar to many dealers and collectors. We promise the reader, however, that the old names will be completely eliminated in the near future!)

Assigned names were usually chosen with care. They were absolutely necessary at the time they were “coined.”  It is difficult to discuss a “no-name” pattern, and virtually impossible to collect it! It can be an interesting exercise to speculate as to why certain names were chosen. Although we often think of Revi as the instigator in assigning “names” that he found buried in the patents’ specifications, it was Dorothy Daniel, in 1950, who first took this reasonable course of action. It is worthwhile to review the “fifty fully documented patterns cut by leading glasshouses” that Daniel chose to illustrate the “trend of design from 1880 to 1905, the duration of the Brilliant Period.” (Daniel 1950, p. 183): 




Two of the fifty patterns discussed by Dorothy Daniel in her book have subsequently been determined to be patterns intended for pressed glass (“Leighton’s Bow-Knot” and “Dunkirk”). (“Kaiser” may also be in this category, but data are insufficient to permit a determination.) Of the 48 cut-glass patterns, assuming that “Kaiser” is a cut pattern, 11 are not patented, leaving 37 patented. Seventeen of these were assigned pattern names by Daniel; the remaining 20 patterns have the original, official names that were used by their manufacturers. T. G. Hawkes and W. C. Anderson tie as the most popular designers in Daniel’s “collection;” each has ten patented patterns to his credit. Of the 17 pattern names that were assigned by Daniel, one — “pinwheel”– is considered to be a motif, not a pattern, thus leaving a total of 16 pattern names assigned to patents granted by the U. S. Patent Office.

Ths first pattern Daniel discusses is the Russian pattern, but, contrary to Daniel’s claim, it was never patented. The pattern that was patented in 1882 is a row-type pattern that is completely different than the Russian pattern. Today this pattern is called the “MacDonald” pattern, pending discovery of its catalog name. Daniel was undoubtedly unaware of its existence. (In the list that follows official pattern names for patented patterns are given in bold type.)

Daniel also used incorrect names for two other patented patterns: Her no. 8, “Russian and Pillar”, is more appropriately called “Russian and Notched Pillars” until its official name is discovered. Russian and Pillar (or Pillars) is an entirely different Hawkes pattern. Also, Daniel’s name for her pattern no. 11, Devonshire, is officially known as Princess (or Princess I). Again, Devonshire is a different Hawkes pattern. These errors, and others, were introduced by Samuel Hawkes who was “directly responsible for the identification of many of the more important patterns” in her book, according to Daniel. Please see the Samuel Hawkes ‘Legacy of Errors‘ file for details.

whiteroseIn the lists that follow, we have added official names, if known, in parentheses after the assigned names. Of the 16 patented patterns with assigned names three include words or phrases that are found in the patents’ specifications: “Middlesex” (Victoria), “Angulated Ribbon” (Electric), and “Bristol Rose” (Corinthian). Three more include their designers’ names: “Baker’s Gothic”, “Richardson’s Pitcher”, and “Bergen’s White Rose”. The latter’s patent drawing is shown on the right (note 4). For these six patterns, therefore, it was necessary for Daniel to be familiar with the patents’ specifications (note 5).

The assigned names for the ten remaining patented patterns appear to be the result of observation combined with imagination: “Cobweb,” “Strawberry-Diamond and Star,” “Old-Fashioned Hobnail” (Grecian & Hobnail), “Macbeth,” “Rattan” (Tuxedo), “Six Sea Shells,” “Golden Wedding” (Brazilian), “Victoria,” “Bull’s-Eye” (Cambridge), and “Cornflower.”  Contrary to what has been written by others, all of the patented designs for cut glass listed by Daniel have been realized, although a few can be considered rare. These are a challenge to the collector who seeks to add one example of each patent to his collection. Should he wish to expand his collection so that it includes the non-patented designs as well, he would probably have difficulty identifying patterns such as “White House” and the aforementioned “Kaiser.”

(Daniel’s “White House” pattern is not the same as Hawkes’s pattern of this name which is, itself, a re-naming of a pattern that the company originally called Venetian. This was the third time Hawkes used this pattern name [Sinclaire and Spillman 1997, pp. 188, 248]. Pattern names can be confusing!)

The Rule: Always use quotation marks around any pattern whose official name is unknown. Substitute the official name (without quotation marks, of course) when it is discovered. 

                    Roman and Arabic Numerals

The Rule: When a company uses a pattern name that it has used previously, the “collector’s convention” is to add a Roman numeral to each pattern.  Example: Gem I is a patented Libbey pattern (12 Nov 1895) that is found in the 1896 Libbey catalog (note 6). It is listed, but not shown, in the ACGA 1996 composite catalog (p. xx) where the Roman numeral I should be added for clarification because a different pattern, also called Gem, appeared about 1918. This pattern is also listed in the ACGA catalog (p. ix and elsewhere) and should, therefore, be labeled Gem II (II appears only on p. xx) (note 7).

Rarely, a company will recognize that it has used a particular pattern name previously and will add an Arabic numeral to the new pattern, which more than likely is similar to the earlier pattern (e.g., Egginton’s Arabian No. 2 pattern). By convention, “No. 1” is not added to the earlier pattern. The Rule: Arabic numerals are reserved for individual companies and used only by them. 


1. Reprint of the “c.1874” Boston & Sandwich Glass Company trade catalog and price list, The Acorn, Vol. 3, [80 pp.] beginning on [p. 21] (1992).

2. Spillman, J. S. ., 1997: The New England Glass Company catalog of pressed glass: an introduction, The Acorn, Vol. 8, pp. 71-73. The catalog itself follows, on pp. 74-98. Sample sheets showing pressed-glass versions of cut-glass patterns are illustrated in Wilson 1973 (pp. 293, 304, 317, and 338).

3. Nelson, K. J., 1992: Introductory note to the “c.1874” catalog and price list, The Acorn. Vol. 3, pp. 11-20 (for the catalog, see note 1 above).

4. Daniel’s comment about this patent is of interest: “There is very little of a rose about this pattern which lacks any of the leaf or realistic cutting of the later period patterns. Why its designer, James D. Bergen, felt that it resembled a rose is obscure to modern collectors.” (Daniel 1950, p. 257). The rose does not refer to the totality of the pattern, but rather to the motif that is cut on a centrally placed chain of “lozenge-shaped figures.”  Perhaps taking a leaf (pun intended) from Hawkes’ specification for his Chrysanthemum pattern, Bergen describes this motif as an abstraction: “lines of cutting forming an intricate rose-like star.”  This star motif is now called a Brunswick star, of 12 points in this case. A similar “rose-like figure” also appears on the central hobstar’s hobnail where there is another 12-pt Brunswick star. There is no mention of “white” in the specification. Daniel probably added this adjective to the pattern’s name to distinguish further this pattern from Mt. Washington’s “Bristol Rose” (Corinthian) pattern.

5. As a result, there is no need to suggest that Daniel had a “penchant for English names” as Bill Evans does in his article “Desperately seeking ‘Devonshire'” (The Hobstar, Vol. 16, No. 9, pp. 1, 6-8). Daniel found both “Middlesex” and “Bristol” within the first few lines of the patents’ specifications. Both refer to the U. S. counties where the patentees lived.

6. [1896 Catalog] THE LIBBEY GLASS CO., CUT GLASS. Published by the Antiques & Historic Glass Foundation, Toledo, OH. 1968, 25 pp.

7. [Composite Catalog] LIBBEY GLASS COMPANY. LIBBEY CUT GLASS. THE CHOICE OF THE CONNOISSEUR. Published by the American Cut Glass Association in co-operation with the Toledo Museum of Art, 1996 (xxxi + 260 pp.).