THE RICH CUT GLASS OF CHARLES GUERNSEY TUTHILL

by Maurice Crofford. (Texas A&M Univ. Press, College Station, TX. 2001, xiii + 211 pp.)

Case B

Source: Fauster, C. U., 1971: Louis Vaupel, master glass engraver, The Magazine Antiques, pp. 696-701 (May).

[figure caption] Presentation chalice. Louis Vaupel’s masterpiece, c1875-1880. . . . Height 9 inches. The engraving encircling the bowl depicts forest scenes with several hunters, hounds, and a stag at bay. The work is so minutely detailed that a squirrel on a branch and a snake wriggling through the tall grass can be clearly seen. Exhibited publicly for the first time at the Toledo Museum of Art’s 1968 exhibition Libbey Glass, a tradition of 150 years.

Crofford, p. 60: (No reference is made to Fauster, above.)

After Christmas [1891], Charles spent time with Joseph Haselbauer. They both had recently examined Louis Vaupel’s beautiful nine-inch presentation chalice. The engraving surrounding the bowl interpreted a Germanic hunting scene, with several mounted hunters and their hounds bringing a stag to bay. The work was so detailed, one could see a snake wiggling away in the tall grass and a squirrel on a tree limb. There was a wise old owl observing the action from the limb of the skeleton of a dead tree [reference given here: Wilson 1972].

COMMENTS:

1. Where was Vaupel’s “presentation chalice” when Charles and Joseph Haselbauer examined it? In E. Cambridge? In Corning?

2. No pages are given in the Wilson reference, but he discusses Vaupel only on pp. 332-333 where there is no mention of the detail given by Crofford, including no mention of any owl, wise or otherwise.

3. The factual information in Crofford’s account appears to have been taken in its entirety from Fauster’s article (which is not cited), except the reference to that owl. The fictional information is obviously from somewhere known only to the author.

4. Following the above passage, Crofford sketches the life of Louis Vaupel, pretending that it was told to Charles and Joseph by John Leighton, Jr., who appears from nowhere (and who was Henry Barnes Leighton’s brother, not nephew as claimed). Henry Barnes Leighton is said to have “known” Vaupel. This is not surprising, considering that he was one of Vaupel’s students!

5. FYI: Spillman and Frantz (1990, p. 40) date the “goblet” c1870-75. Wilson (1994, p. 525) gives the date as 1872. (The goblet’s foot shows a fairly early American use of the Brunswick star.)

CASE C

Source: Daniel 1950, p. 295:

Halley’s comet had been predicted [to appear in 1910] but had not yet appeared in the sky when the Hoare company began cutting the Comet pattern. The fortunes of the glass business were waning at the time. The glass cutters were grumbling about wages and hours, and strikes threatened on all sides. Glass workers had always been highly organized and their power had long been one of the major concerns of the industry. The Comet pattern was one of those designed to cut costs. But the glass workers, by nature supersititious, took the comet as a sign of foreboding. The comet that appeared in Europe in 1456 had caused such terror there that the Christian church added the following lines to its daily prayers, “Lord, save us from the Devil, the Turk, and the comet.”

Crofford, p. 113: Reference is made to Daniel, above.

The [Comet] pattern had been designed to cut manufacturing cost. This move upset glass workers who were grumbling about low wages and short hours. The pattern was named for the anticipated appearance of Haley’s Comet, which had not yet appeared but had been predicted. The highly organized union workers were threatening strikes, and their power had long been one of the major concerns of the industry. Glasscutters were, by nature, a highly superstitious lot — they took the Comet pattern as a sign of foreboding. When Haley’s Comet appeared in Europe in 1456 it had caused so much terror that members of the Christian church added it to their daily prayers. The daily prayer then became: “Lord, save us from the Devil, the Turk and the Comet.”

COMMENTS:

1. Crofford states elsewhere (see comment 3, below) that the Comet pattern was introduced by Hoare in 1905 or earlier. He probably bases this on Daniel’s vague implication, also found on p. 295, that the pattern was in production as early as 1900. But the Daniel reference is more than 50 years old and must be used with caution. Spillman’s (1996, p. 43) recent analysis of the Hoare company’s catalogs indicates that the pattern was probably not available until 1912 or 1913 — in other words well after the appearance of the comet. This fact, incidentally, helps to contradict the often-heard claim that the appearance of the comet in 1910 prompted the introduction of comet patterns by several manufacturers and their use in extensive advertising campaigns. The following fact also contradicts this contention: Most collectors would probably agree that the most outstanding of the “Comet” patterns is the one cut by the Libbey Glass Company. Although it was introduced as early as 1903 (Review of Reviews, 1903) the pattern was called Lenox by the company. Obviously, with such a pattern name, the Libbey company was not planning an advertising campaign based on the anticipated appearance of Halley’s Comet.

2. Daniel’s assertion that Hoare’s Comet pattern was devised “to cut costs” is also questionable. Pieces of average quality in this pattern have been seen, but so have fine pieces of high quality that were costly to produce. Pearson (1965, p. 104) shows an ice tub that must have carried an above-average price tag, but he also shows a rather ordinary carafe. (Interestingly, Pearson also illustrates a signed Tuthill bowl cut in what he claims is a “comet” pattern.) Swan (1986, pp. 246-247) also shows the ice tub and, perhaps not surprisingly, claims that the Comet pattern “was conceived to celebrate the anticipated, though feared, appearance of Halley’s Comet in 1910”. Pearson also claims this, but he ignors the fear factor. It was really quite silly of Dorothy Daniel to imply that glassworkers of the twentieth century seriously believed in superstitions of the fifteenth century. Nevertheless, she unquestionably has cast a long shadow. Today’s investigators acknowledge her contributions, but they treat her book realistically, making corrections when necessary. Crofford, unfortunately, is an exception.

3. Immediately preceeding the above excerpt by Crofford — and also found on p. 113 — is the following example of his gross misuse of material plagiarized from a previous investigator, in this case Estelle F. Sinclaire. Sinclaire’s work is plagiarized because there is no reference to it:

Summer was almost over and winter was approaching when Charles blew first-whistle on Tuesday, September 5, 1905. The news from his friends in Corning was not encouraging. They were reporting a drop in cut glass orders. This drop in orders affected ten percent of Corning[‘s] population because 409 of its citizens were glasscutters [reference given here: CORNING (N.Y.) CITY DIRECTORY]. Unfortunately, J. Hoare and Company had introduced a pattern named the Comet [reference given here: Daniel 1950, p. 295]. . . .

COMMENTS:

1. No year is given for the first reference; presumably, the volume for 1905 was used. Sinclaire (Sinclaire and Spillman 1997, p. 17) also uses this source (as well as other volumes, issued biennially). She indicates that there were 490, not 409, cutters in 1905. The discrepency matters not. Neither figure is ten percent of Corning’s population in 1905, when it was about 13,500. The percentage figure is either 3.0% (using 409) or 3.6% (using 490), not a significant difference unless you are one of the unemployed. Crofford arrives at his inflated figure of 10% by relating the number of unemployed cutters in 1905 to the population of Corning in 1868, when, Sinclaire reports, it was about 4,000!

2. The second reference indicates that Crofford believes that the Comet pattern had been introduced by 1905, clearly in error as pointed out in comment 1, above.

Case D

There are few direct quotations in Crofford’s book. One wishes there were more. They might help legitimize the frequent references to “interviews”, for example. But if they were handled as poorly as the example given here, they would have little value:

On pp. 23-24 Crofford claims to present a letter from H. P. Sinclaire, Sr. that is a reply to one written to him by his son, H. P. Sinclaire, Jr. (called “H. P.”), in “March, 1883”. The “letter” is presented as a direct quote in the guise of a story Will Sinclaire (H.P.’s younger brother) supposedly told to Charles Tuthill and Harry Hunt “one spring afternoon [in 1893] after school”. The only reference given is to Estelle Sinclaire’s two-volume book on her grandfather. The volume and page numbers are not specified. No matter. The letter does not appear in this reference. They — there are actually two letters — are given in Sinclaire and Spillman (1997, p. 203) where they are described as “unpublished”. This reference is not cited in connection with the letters, but it is given later by Crofford, but with no page numbers.

COMMENTS:

1.Crofford claims that H. P. wrote to his father in March 1883, a date that is clearly an impossibility. We do not have the date of H. P.’s letter, but his father wrote his two letters in reply to his son’s letter. Sinclaire, Sr.’s letters are dated 5 Jan and 16 Feb 1883.

2. Crofford combines the first of the aforementioned letters with part of the second letter to form a single letter which he presents as a direct quote. No date is given for this fabrication.

3. Crofford makes changes in the wording of the letters, in spite of the fact that they are direct quotations and, therefore, changes in content are prohibited. For example, the letter of 5 Jan reads: “Mr. Hawkes came to me the other day & offered to give you a situation in his office. . . . The position would be a very good one for one so young as you are, and there is not one chance in a hundred that you would get as good a one in New York. Here you would be at once next to your employer, who is a rising business man, young, and making money. In New York you would probably have to take a boy’s place.” Crofford changes this to: “Mr. Thomas Hawkes came to see me and offered you a position as bookkeeper in his office. The position will be a good one for a young man. There is less than one chance in a hundred you would find one in New York City as good. With Mr. Hawkes you will be close to your employer who is a rising young businessman, and making money. In New York City, you would probably have to take a boy’s position.”

4. Crofford takes information contained in the second of the two letters and uses it indirectly, relating it as a conversation between H. P. and his father, “overheard” by Will Sinclaire. Crofford then states that H. P. began work at the Hawkes company “in September of 1883”. The correct date is March 1883, according to The Corning Journal, as reported by Sinclaire and Spillman (1997, p. 203). Crofford has had to adjust this date by six months in order to accommodate his misdating of the Sinclaire Jr./Sr. correspondence. (Presumably, 12-year old Charles then rushed home and immediately committed all this business to a journal, so that Crofford could write about it a hundred years later!)



CROFFORD’S PHOTO GALLERY

Photographs of Tuthill glass occupy two twenty-page sections in the book. They are undoubtedly last-minute additions. The pages are unnumbered, as are the photographs themselves, and none are specifically referred to in the text.

Information about the photographs is sparce. The only reference is the statement: “Marion [Tuthill Simions] . . . allowed me to take photographs of the cut and engraved glass Charles and Jennie used in their home” (pp. xii-xiii). Probably the single photograph of Charles’s cut-glass masterpiece is from this source. Other than this, no photographer is mentioned in connection with the phtographs.

Many of the photographs are quite old; several date from the years prior to when Crofford first became involved with this project, July 1995 (p. vii). They appear in IDENTIFICATION OF AMERICAN BRILLIANT CUT GLASS by Bill and Louise Boggess (second edition, 1990; repeated in the third edition, 1996). The Boggesses acknowledge the assistance of the late Wallace Turner, owner of a Tuthill Museum in upstate New York, who is known to have taken many photographs of Tuthill glass. Crofford is not mentioned. (And, oddly, Turner and his museum are not mentioned in Crofford’s book.) Perhaps some (most?) of the photographs in Crofford’s book were taken by Wallace Turner.

While several of the items phtographed are said to be “from the author’s collection”, according to the Glass Collector’s Digest of Jun/Jul 2000 (p. 27) where photographs identical to those in the book appear. But, again, no mention is made as to who photographed them. Crofford himself is, of course, a possibility as is Turner.

Crofford’s grasp of pattern identification (always a problem with Tuthill glass) is poor. For example, he fails to identify correctly the popular “Wild Rose” pattern in a half dozen of the photographs. And he claims that Tuthill’s only patented pattern (actually by Mortenson) is “Rosemere”, but it is not. This pattern does appear in the gallery, however, where it is identified as “Daisy”. Unfortunately, Crofford calls other, entirely different patterns “Daisy” too. Confusing, and entirely avoidable.

An additional fault is that there is no indication whether the individual pieces of Tuthill cut glass are signed or not signed. This oversight becomes especially important in connection with the pattern sometimes known as “Non-Rex” or “Pseudo-Rex”. Crofford shows it on a two-handled bowl as a “variation of the rex pattern”, with the implication that it is a genuine Tuthill pattern. Most experienced dealers and collectors, however, do not consider this to be a Tuthill product, although it is often bought and sold as such (note 1).

NOTE:

1. See The Hobstar, Vol. 3, No. 1, p. 1 (Oct 1980).



CROFFORD’S MISSPELLINGS

The author seems to be inviting the reader to play a game of “Spot the Spelling Error” as he reads the book. We have listed only one instance for each misspelling we have found. While some do occur only once, others are repeated, a case where consistency should not be encouraged! Most correct spellings can be found in Sinclaire and Spillman 1997; otherwise, Pearson 1965, Feller 1988, or as indicated.

Thomas Mortenson (letters patent) appears as Mortensen throughout the book, to be spelled correctly only in the index. But Charles H. Voorhees is Voorchees (p. 47) throughout, even in the index. While it is not particularly unexpected to find Philip MacDonald (letters patent) given as McDonald (p. 24), it is unexpected to find Thomas Gibbons Hawkes listed as Gibbon (p. 46). Adolph Kretschmann picks up an “e” in his middle, Kreteschmann (p. 64), throughout. Joseph Nitsche gets changed to Netsche (p. 77), but Augustus Haselbauer does not need a sex-change operation to become Augusta (p. 77). The family itself gets an Old World treatment, more or less, as Hauselbaeurs (p. 71). Wilmot Putnam must learn to be recognized as William Pietman (p. 77) as must (H.) William Fritchie as Fritche (p. 77). Meanwhile, Candace Wheeler learns that she Candance (p. 66). Eli Masey (p. 84) might be correct, but Feller, who is briefly known as Fellow (p. 196), spells the name Macey. A similar uncertainty surrounds Louis Bradhurst (p. 108) because both Sinclaire and Spillman and Pearson give the name as Brandhurst. The Philadelphia jeweler Bailey, Banks and Biddle was never known as Bailey, Banks and Beddle (p. 169). Pronouncing Hagchornthwrite (p. 198) could dislocate a person’s jaw; it is easier to pronounce as Haythornthwaite. Finally, it is a surprise to see Simions turned into Simmons (p. 188).

Place names do not fare any better. This writer did not initially recognize his next-door neighbor, Chautauqua county, when spelled Chautamuqua (p. 101). Innescana (p. 43) House’s spelling strays quite a distance from Inniscarra House, but Knohinoor (p. 66) can still be recognized as Crofford’s version of Kohinoor. Other place names that get misspelled include Schildhorst which becomes Scheldhorst (p. 60) and Breitenstein which becomes Breilenstein (p. 61). Both corrections are confirmed in Nelson, K. J., 1996: The “short biography” of the glass engraver Louis Vaupel, The Magazine Antiques, Apr, pp. 563-573 where Louis is always Louis, never Ludwig (p. 60).

The reader can play this game — more misspellings surely await discovery — but be aware, no gold medal will be awarded!