THE AMERICAN GUT GLASS INDUSTRY, T. G. HAWKES AND HIS COMPETITORS

 

by Jane Shadel Spillman. (The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY. 1996, 320 pp.)

Spillman has prepared a correction sheet for her book. It appears in The Hobstar, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 14-15 (Oct 1997). In it the book’s figs. 5-37 and 11-9 are replaced with their correct illustrations. The latter figure is especially important because it illustrates a Steven & Williams (England) pattern that is often offered to American collectors (at a high price) as genuine American brilliant cut and engraved glass. Spillman also lists about a dozen “smaller errors”. This two-page correction sheet can be obtained from acgakathy@aol.com


Background information:

Spillman, J. S., 1991: Treasures from a musty basement, The Hobstar, Vol. 13, No. 5, pp. 1, 6-7 (Jan).
Randles, Joan, 1991: The Hawkes catalog project, a transcendence back into time, The Hobstar, Vol. 13, No. 5, pp. 7-9 (Jan).
Sinclaire, Estelle, 1991: Pressures toward anonymity of Corning-area cut glass, The Glass Club Bulletin, No. 165, pp. 3-7 (fall 1991).


 

Caption to fig. 8-13, p. 180

 

The 504 dish cut in Persian and Pillars pattern came in four sizes from 8 in. to 11 in.; all cost $220 each, a tremendous price, but the Pillars were very difficult to cut.

It has been possible to examine the material that Spillman used to arrive at her description, and a correction is called for. There should be a decimal point between the two 2s ($2.20) and the word “inch” added. This shape, together with shape no. 196 — both ice cream trays — were priced by the linear inch, a rare practice for the Hawkes company. Originally the salesmen’s cards that contained these two shapes were probably priced in the mid-1880s. Later the prices were updated by 100% which seems a large amount but is probably the net result of several small increases during the intervening years. It is not known when the revisions were made. But when they were the person making the changes ignored the decimal points (except in the following example for the Hobnail pattern). So it is little wonder that Spillman used $220 in her caption instead of $2.20. The older prices can still be seen on the cards, but they are very faint. Complete sets of cards for shapes 504 and 196 are not available, but here are some examples from cards that one can find at the Rakow Research Library, together with their updated prices (with the decimal points restored!): 75c per inch for Hobnail on shape no. 504, updated to $1.50 per inch; $1.10 per inch for Persian on shape no. 504, updated to $2.20 per inch; $1.00 per inch for Russian on shape no. 196, updated to $2.00 per inch; and $1.10 per inch for Persian & Pillars on shape no.196, updated to $2.20 per inch. These seem to be the only examples of “linear pricing” undertaken by the Hawkes company.

If the reader uses the updated prices to calculate the prices for ice cream trays of various sizes he will see that their prices are now comparable to the prices for other Russian, Persian, and Hobnail items in this section of Spillman’s book. Note that using Pillars in place of allover cuttings in the Russian and Persian patterns adds nothing to the price of such items. The cost of pillar cutting has been greatly exaggerated in the past and continues to be greatly exaggerated. Unfortunately, Spillman’s caption validates this misconception. (According to a glasscutter of the writer’s acquaintance, pillar cutting is not especially difficult to do, but it is time-consuming.)

 

The Venetian and Brazilian Patterns

In the opinion of this writer the following two statements, on p. 186 and p. 180 respectively, concerning Hawkes’s Venetian and Brazilian patterns are incorrect:

1. Venetian must have been introduced in 1889, because it is included in Hawkes’s display at the Paris Exposition.

2. The examiners apparently felt that Brazilian, as originally designed, was too close to [Straus’s patented Venetian pattern of 1888], and Hawkes modified it slightly and resubmitted it.

Summarizing briefly, it is shown in the following discussions that (1) the pattern that Spillman refers to as Venetian is not the patented pattern of this name that Hawkes introduced in 1889, but is, instead, the name Hawkes originally gave to his Brazilian pattern. He changed the name from Venetian to Brazilian in March 1889 after the first glass shipment to Paris had been prepared. Its manifest, therefore, contains the pattern’s original name, Venetian. And (2) an examination of the correspondence between Hawkes and his patent attorneys, Knight Brothers of Washington, D. C., fails to indicate that any modification whatsoever was made to the Brazilian pattern by Hawkes prior to the submission of his application to the U. S. Patent Office. (Nevertheless, as will be seen, the Patent Office’s Examiner had complaints!)

The following paragraphs discuss these two points in detail. R-citations refer to the Hawkes correspondence archive that is on microfilm at the Rakow Research Library, Corning. All relevant portions of this correspondence, including those cited by Spillman, have been examined for this report:

Statement 1: Before discussing this error, it is important to emphasize again that the Venetian pattern referred to by Spillman is NOT the Venetian pattern that was patented by Hawkes in 1890. That pattern shares only a name with the pattern in our discussion, and it can be disregarded. It played no part in the Paris Exposition.

Hawkes probably chose the name Venetian for the pattern we know today as Brazilian to honor the Venetian glassmakers of an earlier century. As will be discussed further in Statement 2, he was aware, possibly as early as July 1888, that L. Straus & Sons also had a pattern named Venetian.

Louis Dorflinger of C. Dorflinger & Sons was in frequent correspondence with T. G. Hawkes & Company at this time (actually with Hawkes himself, although his letters were always addressed to the company, as was Hawkes’s in return). Dorflinger was made aware of the Straus pattern when he read his copy of the March 21st 1889 issue of the Crockery and Glass Journal. It prompted him to write the following to Hawkes on the 25th: “Enclosed cuts from Crockery Journal explain themselves — Don’t you think you had better find another name for your new cutting [?]” (note 1). The “cuts” consist of six different shapes, all produced in the company’s “Exclusive Specialty: The Venetian Pattern of Cut Glass”. (It is worth noting that the pattern was patented the previous December.) Hawkes responded, in part, with the following message which is quoted by Spillman (p. 186 and R-665): “Yours of the 25th. inst. received. We have changed the name of our new pattern from Venetian to Brazilian.” While Hawkes could have changed the name of his pattern anytime before he wrote his letter, it is likely that he did not do so until encouraged by Dorflinger. In fact in an order placed as late as March 22nd Dorflinger was still referring to the Brazilian pattern as “Venetian”. The exact date of the name-change is unimportant, however; what is important is that the shipping list for Paris was prepared during a “window of opportunity” when the Brazilian pattern was known as Venetian. (The Hawkes Venetian pattern of 1890 is an indication that Hawkes was especially fond of this name and was determined to use it — which eventually he did!)

Spillman concludes: “This leaves us in some doubt as to what Hawkes sent to Paris, since Venetian is named on the shipping list, but Brazilian is not” (p. 186). In reality there is no doubt at all because the date on the shipment’s manifest, 6 Mar 1889, pre-dates Hawkes’s name-change by at least a couple of weeks. On March 6th Hawkes had not yet chosen the name Brazilian.

While this situation explains the appearance of the name “Venetian” on Hawkes’s shipping list, other evidence can be brought forward that eliminates, or at least decreases, the likelihood that the patented pattern known as Venetian — the pattern Spillman has in mind — could have been the pattern on this list, prepared as it was on 6 Mar 1889. The application for this patent was not received by the U. S. Patent Office until 5 May 1890, half a year after the Exposition had closed. Although it has happened, the writer believes that it is unlikely that Hawkes would have introduced a major pattern that he intended to sell so far in advance of the pattern’s patent-date.

At this point reference must be made to a statement by Maurice Crofford in his book THE RICH CUT GLASS OF CHARLES GUERNSEY TUTHILL. Unfortunately, this book is a mixture of fact and fiction, is filled with errors, and is probably the most dishonest book ever published on the subject of cut glass. On p. 43 Crofford claims that when Hawkes returned to Corning from Ireland in mid-September 1888 he indicated that he “planned to patent the [Brazilian] pattern and enter it into production in late 1889 or early 1890”. Why Hawkes would wait a year to patent his design and delay its production until after the Paris Exposition are puzzles, if Crofford’s statement is true. If it is, then we know that Hawkes obviously changed his mind.

Additional evidence that confirms that the Venetian pattern of 1890 was not exhibited in Paris is visual. Spillman refers to a photograph of glassware known to have been sent to Paris (fig. 9-1, p. 229). In the foreground, on the left, is a large two-part punch bowl in a fitted case which Spillman contends has been cut in the patented Venetian pattern. When her book first appeared this writer asked a half dozen experienced cut-glass collectors whether this bowl’s pattern — which is only partly visible — is, in fact, the patented Venetian pattern. All indicated that it definitely is not. Of this number half indicated that the pattern appeared to them to be Brazilian, while the other half declined to suggest what the pattern might be.

Statement 2: Spillman states that “The examiner apparently felt that Brazilian as originally designed, was too close to [Davies’s design for L. Straus & Sons’ patented Venetian pattern]”, and that Hawkes consequently “modified [his pattern] slightly and resubmitted it”. Fortunately, we can prove that Hawkes did not modify his pattern. Fortunately, because otherwise this action could be interpreted as an admission by Hawkes that he had copied the Straus design. However, the larger question — Did either company copy from the other? — remains unanswered at the present time. It is unrealistic, statistically, to suggest that two such similar patterns — Straus’s Venetian and Hawkes’s Brazilian — could have been conceived by their respective companies independently. Copying must have occurred. The solution to this problem — Did Hawkes copy Straus or did Straus copy Hawkes?, will have to wait until more data are found. We can, nevertheless, present evidence, some of which was not available to Spillman, that will help the reader to form his own opinion, even though he may eventually have to change it. For this evidence please see (note 2).

The only modification that occurred with the Brazilian patent concerns the fact that Hawkes originally submitted only one view of his pattern — as displayed on a bowl. Later he decided to augment his patent application with examples that show the pattern on an ice cream tray and on a wine glass. When he queried Knight Bros. about using these additional drawings, the firm replied that they could be added as part of the original patent application; a new application was not necessary. As it turned out, by doing this they incurred the displeasure of the Patent Office’s Examiner who, nevertheless, eventually agreed to accept the patent application with its three drawings. It is possible that he did so because earlier he (or a colleague) had accepted Davies’s Venetian application which also includes three items. Nevertheless, it is clear from his position that the Examiner wished to avoid applications that contained more than one example of a submitted design. It was a situation that could easily get out-of-hand.

It is worth reproducing Hawkes’s complete letter of 29 Apr 1889 (It is not dated, but is referred to as such by Knight Brothers, probably based on the letter’s postmark):

We send you today by express, one Ice Cream Tray, and one Claret glass — our new pattern, but with some of the work left off, as on certain shapes, especially the smaller pieces, stemglass, finger bowls, etc. we find we cannot put all the pattern on without crowding it. Will you please look into the matter carefully, and let us know if you think that it will be necessary for us to make application for a new patent with the pattern cut in this way, if so, you will proceed with the application papers as soon as possible.Of course on all stemglass, finger bowls, jugs, decanters, etc. would be finished on the top, the same as the claret glass, that is, without the scallop — same [Hawkes must have meant “such”] as on the cream tray. This point we wish to be very particular in covering, if it is necessary to do so. Please return [to] us the cream tray and claret glass as soon as you get through with them (R-578 and Spillman, p. 180).

While the writer has found no evidence that the Brazilian pattern underwent any revision, it is worth noting that, in addition to his objection to the drawings, the Examiner also “rejected the application [based] on Design Patent No. 18,791 [by] Davies”. This would have left Hawkes with no alternative except to modify his design. Note that the word “based” is enclosed within square brackets. It, or a similar word, is necessary in order for the sentence to make sense. The letter itself is neatly hand-written and the word “based” could easily have been dropped from the original draft. Although this sentence would seem to indicate that the application was rejected on this point alone, Knight Bros. hasten to explain to Hawkes that “after pointing out the differences between Mr. Hawkes design and the design shown by the reference [i.e., the Davies patent] [the Examiner] allowed the application.” The Knight Bros. letter concludes: “We enclose a copy of the Davies patent and also a statement of account covering extra services, and additional drawings in this application. The additional drawings are for the dish [i.e., ice cream tray] and wine [claret] glass and do not represent revisions to Hawkes’ original design (emphasis added by JMH). Spillman possibly believes that the additional drawings represent Hawkes’ effort to make his design different from Davies’s.

It was necessary for Hawkes to lend the bowl, ice cream tray, and claret glass to Knight Bros. who, in turn, had the required drawings made in Washington. These items were then promptly returned to Hawkes, but all of them apparently did not reach the Crystal City (letter from Knight Bros. to Hawkes, 8 Nov 1898, R-665).

It is unlikely, but Spillman also could have confused Knight Bros.’s account of the Brazilian patent with the two designs by Richard Briggs that were submitted by Hawkes at about this time. Confusion in the Briggs case abounded (but the designs were never modified); there was even a third Briggs pattern that was eventually “abandoned”. But this is a story for another time. We will only comment here that it was the Briggs case that resulted in the shift in illustrations of cut-glass from photographs to line drawings (which were always acceptable). The year is 1889 and the practice of submitting line drawings of cut-glass patterns quickly became the norm throughout the industry, although some line drawings can be found with earlier dates. This is the reverse of what is stated by Spillman on p. 180. The Examiner objected to photographs because glare often obscured part of the design (for examples of this, see the illustrations that accompany the patent applications that were submitted by Hawkes prior to the Briggs patents).

NOTES:

1. Louis Dorflinger added the following sentence to his question about finding another name for Hawkes’s new pattern: “We don’t want to be mixed up with Straus if we can help it”. Dorflinger obviously felt a degree of animousity toward L. Straus & Sons. It would be interesting to learn the cause of this friction. It could be the result of Straus’s cutting a pattern named Brilliant which is an exact copy of Dorflinger’s No. 1888 pattern. We originally thought that Straus did this with Dorflinger’s permission. Now we are less sure. Also, Straus cut a pattern called Peerless that is heavily dependent upon Dorflinger’s Russian & Prism pattern as well as Hawkes’s patented “Russian and Pillar” pattern. But there seems to be additional cause for Dorflinger’s attitude toward the Straus company. William Dorflinger, Louis’s older brother and manager of C. Dorflinger & Sons’ shop in NYC located near Straus’s showroom, wrote the following letter to Hawkes on 9 Aug 1889:

Mr. Thomas G. Hawkes
Corning, N.Y.
Dear Sir

A strong effort is being made to have Mr. Straus of L. Straus & Sons represent our Industry for the Exposition of 1892.

We do not care to be represented by a Jew, and an Importer only. If you will join us in recommending Mr. Wm. Brookfield — a wealthy influential man — a Manufacturer of Green Glass (bottles) and a Presidential Elector last year please write [illeg.] at once to this effect: “We earnestly desire Mr. Wm. Brookfield to represent our interests as Cut Glass Manufacturers for the Exposition of 1892”.

Yours truly,
Wm. F. Dorflinger for C. Dorfinger & Sons

As distasteful as it is today, the sentiment expressed in Dorflinger’s letter was probably shared by many in the cut-glass community. William likely sent similar letters to others whom he felt he could count on for support. Although Hawkes replied to the letter, there is an underlined notation on it: “no copy”. So Hawkes’s opinion in this matter is unknown.

2. Before one pursues the history of Straus’s Venetian and Hawkes’s Brazilian patterns in an effort to discover which came first and, as a result, which company could have copied from the other, it is necessary to compare identical configurations of the patents; that is, one must compare each pattern as depicted as a “border” pattern. (The Venetian pattern is also shown in an all-over configuration, while the Brazilian pattern is also shown in a “stripped-down” version.) Use Straus’s fig. 3 of patent no. 18,791 and Hawkes’s fig. 1 of patent no. 19,114 in one of the following sources: Appendix A, REvi (1965, pp. 113, 182), or the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Web site.

The basic difference between the patterns can be stated as follows: (a) Hawkes’s pattern adds a miter cut at the base of his fan-scallops; this is described in the patent “as a circular or encircular line [i.e., miter cut] intermediate of the star [i.e., the basal hobstar] and the outer edge of the bowl”; and (b) Hawkes uses the following motifs to fill in his mitered pattern: strawberry (fine) diamonds, stars, fans (interior), and 8-pt hobstars. Straus uses only the first two motifs. Note also that Hawkes replaces the strawberry (fine) diamonds with which Straus fills the mitered pattern’s large quadrilaterials with the 8-pt hobstar motif. This latter feature is shown only on the complete Brazilian pattern; the “stripped-down” version does not contain this chain of hobstars, but it too can be described as a “border pattern”.

Straus’s Venetian was patented on 11 Dec 1888 and it, with its illustrations, was published by the Patent Office at this time. Hawkes’s application for his Brazilian pattern was not accepted by the Patent Office until 29 Apr 1889. Conclusion: Hawkes could have copied Straus’s pattern.

It is now necessary to travel further back in time. Our first stop concerns the situation in the Hawkes cutting shop in the middle of Sepatember 1888. Unfortunately, our only source is the book THE RICH CUT GLASS OF CHARLES GUERNSEY TUTHILL by Maurice Crofford which, as stated earlier, is unreliable. However, if we accept that what Crofford writes is true, then we have the following situation as described by him on p. 43, a scene that included Hawkes, Egginton, and Charles Tuthill who, at this time was an apprentice cutter in Hawkes’s shop. The pattern under discussion is the Brazilian pattern:

. . . Hawkes and Egginton were approaching [Charles’s] smoothing frame. Hawkes had returned the previous week from the Innescana (sic) House estate in Ireland. He and his family had spent the summer there. Tom Hawkes handed Charles a very complicated line drawing of a pattern he had designed and wanted to know if Charles thought he could cut the pattern. Charles admitted that he was not sure, but he would surely like to try. After studying the line drawing for a few minutes, Charles, seeing that the cuts were all straight-line cuts, changed his reply and assured Hawkes he would be able to cut the pattern. . . .

As described by Crofford, Charles is studying the “stripped-down” version of the Brazilian pattern which he subsequently proceeded to cut on a 10-inch plate. This meeting between Hawkes, Egginton and Tuthill took place only a week after Hawkes had returned from Ireland. Was the pattern then “leaked” to Davies at L. Straus & Sons? No matter how Davies gained access to it, there would have been time for him to modify the Brazilian pattern slightly — by dropping Hawkes “encircling” miter cut and by using only strawberry (fine) diamonds and stars as the motifs — before submitting the pattern to the Patent Office in October. Conclusion: Straus could have copied Hawkes’s pattern.

Finally, we can step back even further in time. Straus’s Venetian pattern as shown in the Crockery and Glass Journal article of 21 Mar 1889 — when it so exercised Louis Dorflinger — was not the pattern’s first public appearance. Nine months earlier, on 12 Jul 1888, the same trade newspaper published an ad for L. Straus & Sons announcing that the company had “recently opened [its] own Glass Cutting establishment”. The ad shows the Venetian pattern cut on a salad bowl, together with examples of the company’s Russian, Bold Hobnail, and Regent patterns. The engraving of the Venetian pattern is sharp and clear. Was it possible for Hawkes to see this ad while still in Ireland? Or did he first see it upon his return home? If the latter is the case, would he have had time to design his Brazilian pattern during the week or so before he showed it to Charles Tuthill? Conclusion: Hawkes could have copied Straus’s pattern.

Based on the evidence that is provided by the foregoing events, it is impossible to state unequivocally at the present time that Hawkes copied from Straus or that Straus copied from Hawkes. The remarkable similarity of the two patterns in question nevertheless indicates — at least to this writer — that one of these situations actually did happen.