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Looking - Really Looking
Collectors of the Northwood Grape pattern (G&C) may not know that their punch sets can contain as many as six versions of the cup pattern, maybe more. It seems that ole Harry tweaked the cup molds quite a bit. Poor little cups ?those overlooked bridesmaids surrounding the bowl playing a strictly supporting role to the more impressive 揵ride.? Yet they were obviously important to Harry Northwood because the pattern of this single shape received so many updates. I decided to make them important too, and my study revealed some surprises.
Since I was old enough to hold the cups, I抳e known of two separate treatments of the pattern. At six, I called the first The Fancy One and the second The Plain One. Then, last year, a dealer told me he knew of three versions, and that was the last straw mark. I decided to give this notion a concentrated examination, and the only way to do it was to look ?really look ?starting with the 40 cups in my collection.
I took my cue from the elegant Marion Hartung realizing that the absolute, best way to learn a pattern is to draw it. Drawing the images, even simple sketching, forces us to look longer and more closely. Without it, for example, we抎 still be accepting the Northwood Peacocks as being 搊n the fence.? I love the way Mrs. Hartung gracefully corrected that mistake in her clever description in the first book. Had she and Dick Bulla not drawn the patterns, we might have missed this and similar revelations. They did a lot of the looking for us.
Separating my 40 cups into the Fancy group and Plain group of my childhood, I confirmed that two patterns are quickly identifiable according to their relationships to the cable. In the Fancy One or 揌igh Mount,?the vines, leaves and grapes are carved in a frieze right across the cable. In contrast, the Plain One or 揟ensile?has its grapes and leaves all hanging below the cable with vine and tendril only dancing across it. Tensile cups also have slimmer handles than the High Mounts.
These two Northwood Grape patterns are the two basic, unique designs, and all variants I have studied are either Tensile or High Mount.
The At-A-Glance quick ID then is:
Leaves and grapes across the cable: High Mount
Leaves and grapes hanging below the cable: Tensile
In the drawings that follow, the frieze starts just to the right of the handle with the pattern opened clockwise all the way around again to the left of the handle.
Rather than use 損attern and variant,?it is clearer here to use 揟-1, T-2, T3, and T-4?for the four Tensile versions, and 揌M-1 and HM-2?for the two High Mount versions. Keep in mind that this is a record from a family collection with additional observations from many photos, but it may not be comprehensive. If you have Northwood Grape punch sets, I welcome your feedback: Dynography@AOL.com.
Northwood Grape Punch Cups: Six Distinct Pattern Treatments
Until I can examine the cup itself, this T-1 example remains partial speculation. It comes from an article written in 1980 by John and Lucile Britt for the HOACGA Educational Series I, page 87*, in which they describe the pattern as having two bunches of grapes and two leaves only.
My drawing is an approximation of what they described and what I can see in the photo. Only one side of the cup is pictured revealing the right side of the above pattern, so I used it to make similar alterations to the pattern on the left that I could not see ?sort of like charting the dark side of the moon. Notice how the patterns mirror each other. This may be the great grandfather of the series, the treatment from which the next three variants were developed. The following three simply add on to this first version indicating frequent upgrades by carving additional pattern into existing molds and producing the latest updated versions for any new molds.
I think of T-2 as 搕he dancing vines?particularly because of the burst of tendrils from behind the newly added small center leaf and cluster of grapes, which appears to have been added to the T-1 negative space.
Note the addition of several more tendrils throughout to balance the added center pattern, yet there is still a lot of open space. Nothing but vine and tendril cross the cable and everything else drapes below. We are now up to three bunches and three leaves.
T-3 begins to fill in the negative space. Little tendrils extend into two of the more prominent negative spaces, and the addition of ten grapes (shown in purple) fills out the pattern a bit by fattening the clusters, especially the center one ?still the same number of leaves and bunches as T-2 but a more embellished version.
T-4 continues the process by adding two leaves to T-3 that cover over much of the tendril design establishing a pattern with five leaves and three grape clusters. This version is the second example shown in the Britt article. The frieze is now fully loaded, and not much more could be added without crowding, overlapping or carving above the cable.
Suddenly, there is a completely unique pattern to consider. I get the impression that Harry Northwood worked for an ever-more-opulent look with the richest effect possible, one that would dazzle no matter what side of the cup was showing. The two High Mount versions accomplish this with even more weight and elegance.
High Mount-1 has larger leaves and clusters, and all attach right across the cable extending downward covering a bit more of the sides than that seen in the Tensile versions. There are four leaves and three clusters in HM-1.
High Mount cups have fatter handles than Tensile versions.
As if nothing more could be added, eagle-eye Harry puts two small clusters below the second and third leaves creating the variant HM-2 where he really pushes the pattern to the max.
I present these from simple to complex, but this may not necessarily represent the chronological order of release (although I think it probably does). We know that variants followed the originals as did stippling and banding, but who can say if High Mount or Tensile came first? I can find no history on the 1910 pattern beyond the lauding of its success and the extensive number of shapes and colors produced; and from photos of punch sets, I can find no correlation of cup pattern to the three bowl sizes. Some sets come with High Mount, others with Tensile, others are mixed.
In Wheeling Glass 1829-1939 by Baker, Eige, McCluskey, Measell, Spillman and Wilson, page 136, the Northwood Grape master punch is shown in all its spectacular beauty surrounded by twelve cups in the same pattern; yet, lo and behold, of the ten that can be clearly seen, nine are matching High Mount versions, and one lone Tensile cup sits to the far left on the front row. Was it added to fill out the dozen? Was it part of the original set packed at the Wheeling factory? Who knows? The example on page 90 of the Britt article for HOACGA shows a master set with what appears to be Tensile cups only.
To tease us further, the mix-and-match sales tradition at Woolworth and Kress allowed customers to assemble their own punch sets pairing contrasting base colors for bowl and base stand as well as different colors of cups ?something my great aunt did in 1912 when she selected our Fenton Wreath of Roses punch set, so, the mixing of the Northwood cup variations could very well have started at the original point of sale.
Because pattern is the direct surviving record of the designer抯 vision and intent, there is much to study. Pattern invites all kinds of questions that, for me, are often more engaging than the documentation of color or shape. For the G&C cups, Northwood produced two unique patterns, not a single pattern with variants, but two separate patterns each with its own distinct descendants. Is there another single shape in Carnival that received so many variations in one thematic pattern? This fascinates me.
What could the stories be behind the decisions to embellish the pattern so many times? Which set did Harry Northwood choose for his own parlor? Was the designer of the Tensile and the High Mount versions the same person, or were there two different artists? How many more versions are out there?
Looking?really looking?is worthwhile because it distills evidence into understanding. Looking at a pattern while asking, 揥hat is really here; what is the artist抯 intent??takes us deeper into the soul of our collections. Looking tells us that the Northwood peacocks are actually on a branch; there are no octagons to be found in the Octagon pattern; those might be lotuses, not water lilies, on that Fenton bowl; the Fenton Floral and Grape pitchers do have neckbands; and there are no Dogwood flowers (揵racts?actually) depicted in Carnival, and so on as we simply continue to look.
Why is this important? If pattern deserves value in Carnival Glass history, then the work of the artists who created the designs merits the highest consideration. To accept hearsay is often to miss what is actually right there in front of us, or to paraphrase Mrs. Hartung: Don抰 take my word for it, look ?really look ?and continue to refine the information.
I welcome your questions or comments: Dynography@AOL.com.
Should you care to contact the Frys, their email address is:
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