It can be difficult to identify unknown art glass. I’ve studied 20th Century glass for a very long time, and have learned how to spot the clues that point in the direction of identification, but it doesn’t always end well. Often, after months of research in my library and on the web, after following every clue I could squeeze out the object, I end up more confused then when I began. Here are a couple of good examples of glass mysteries that have me stumped:
Set of Hand-Blown Soft Form Bullet Vases with Exterior Monochrome & Aventurine Murrina Décor
Found the two vases a year ago at an estate sale in Las Vegas. The sale was full of mid-century modern (1940s-1970s) décor items. First thing I noted as I brought one down from a shelf was the weight. It was very heavy for its size (3.7 lbs, 9.5” tall). Looking over the unusual decor, I discovered why. It was made of thick blown cobalt blue glass and a thick layer of monochrome and metallic murrina (bits of glass rods) “rolled” over the entire vase. An outer layer of clear glass is normally found encasing décor like this, but there was none. The murrina layer was added to the surface, and causes a slightly raised irregular texture. As I reached for the matching vase, my heart raced. Whoever made these vases was very good at the art. The décor told me that they were very difficult to create. I just knew that it would be easy to find more information about them…but it wasn’t.
My first thought was Italian (Venini, Toso, etc) or Bohemian, 1940s/1960s. I was positive the décor alone would lead the way to the maker. To my surprise, every clue gleamed from the vases led to a dead-end. Next I tried other regions and contemporary studio glass. No luck. The only thing I’ve managed to learn about these vases is the exterior décor process is called “Roll Up”:
ROLL UP – Glass technique that uses colorful sheets of glass produced with kiln-fusing, which are then rolled over the blown vessel, then attached to a blow pipe and blown again. It involves warm, hot, and cold methods all in unison.
Italian LABELLED Blue Crystal Modernistic Egg-Shaped Pokal Goblet
It has a label, should be a breeze to discover its origin! It’s thoroughly modernistic shape suggests mid 20th century Franco Pozzi, Joe Colombo, Moretti…and more. All I had to do was match the label. No such luck. The label, the best clue one could possibly hope for, led to a dead-end.
A “Pokal” is a covered wine goblet used in the far past to keep insects and varmints out of the drink. Church’s and royalty used Pokals. This strange and beautiful goblet was made of quality blue hand-blown crystal. The lid gently slips over the vessel, there is no lid ledge to hold it in place. When covered, it resembles a stemmed egg. I am confident that it was made sometime in the mid-20th century. It’s a modernistic Pokal form.
Research continues on these objects. Readers who have clues or suggestions to pass along are welcome to post them here.