Glasshouse Turtle Whimsies

Recently on facebook, one of our more advanced collectors of early American glass posted a picture of some glass turtles in a garden setting (see below). It reminded me of some of the more whimsical glass pieces that I have collected over the years prompting this post.

Glass workers did not have time to amuse themselves with their creations during working hours. Pay scales were equated to the volume of the product or numbers of piece work. A major problem the workers faced when they made a whimsey, was preventing someone else from taking it. The item had to be cooled in the left overnight, and whoever was first to get to work the next morning had the opportunity to grab the whimsey if he was so inclined. Some workers just expected their whimsies to disappear and were surprised when it was still there for them to have.

These whimsical items the glass blowers made on their own time included canes, chain, hats, sock darners, doorstop turtles, bellows bottles, bells, witch balls, banks, powder horns, pipes, rolling pins, horns, and many more items. In fact, there are additional items coming to collectors’ attention every year. These include witch wands, gavels, screw drivers, pistols, and swords.

Glass “turtles” were easily made by glass workers. By taking a full ladle of molten glass and lying it on a table or cooling rack, and gently pulling at the glass for the legs, tail and head, a turtle was made! Reference: Glass House Whimsies By Mark and Elaine Corriero.

Here are a few pictures. I welcome additional pictures so I can add to this gallery.

FIGURAL TURTLE WHIMSIE in the crude form of a turtle. Probably a Stoddard glass-house piece, Stoddard, New Hampshire. Length 6 inches, pontil scar. Most unusual to find a pontiled example. Circa 1840 – 1870 – Meyer Collection

FIGURAL TURTLE WHIMSY, ice blue in the form of simplified turtle. Length 6 inches. Commonly known as turtle door stops. Circa 1840 – 1870 – Meyer Collection

A South Jersey dump turtle. These are often hard to say where they came from but this one has been attributed to Clevenger Bros. –

South Jersey dump turtle. Crude and may have been used as a doorstop –

Two Turtle Whimsies escaping from glass cabinet, or something like that. Posted by Woody Douglas on facebook

FIGURAL TURTLE WHIMSY, sea green, in the form of simplified turtle. Length 6 1.2 inches. Commonly known as turtle door stops. Circa 1840 – 1870 – Meyer Collection

South Jersey Turtle Doorstop – Old South Jersey Glass and Antiques

Deep green GIV-34 farmer’s arms Kensington Glass Works whimsey. There is a picture of this same whimsey on Page 433 of American Bottles & Flasks and Their Ancestry by McKearin/Wilson, its a great side view. Now THAT is a piece of glass! – Joe Butewicz

About Ferdinand Meyer V

Ferdinand Meyer V is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and has a BFA in Fine Art and Graphic Design from the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design. Ferdinand is the founding Principal of FMG Design, a nationally recognized design consultation firm. Ferdinand is a passionate collector of American historical glass specializing in bitters bottles, color runs and related classic figural bottles. He is married to Elizabeth Jane Meyer and lives in Houston, Texas with their daughter and three wonderful grandchildren. The Meyers are also very involved in Quarter Horses, antiques and early United States postage stamps. Ferdinand is the past 6-year President of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors and is one of the founding members of the FOHBC Virtual Museum.
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One Response to Glasshouse Turtle Whimsies

  1. sandchip says:

    What a flask!

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