Carnival glass only became of interest to me, a couple of years ago, when Glen Thistlewood and I started to exchange messages regarding European pressed glass manufacturers. Whilst I was aware of some glass, for example many examples in the author’s Network Special “Czechoslovakian Carnival”, nothing quite prepared me for the second edition of “Carnival Glass: The Magic and Mystery” ISBN: 978-0-7643-2989-0, published by Schiffer. This lavishly illustrated tome, many images supplied by Stephen Thistlewood, is a mouth-watering treat, a panoply of iridescence.
The major part of the book covers American carnival production, both in terms of the manufacturers and the motifs used. Both naturalistic patterning and pseudo-cut designs lend themselves particularly well to the process of hot stannous salts iridising, and in this book, there are images which simply crackle with fire and light. I found the authors’ use of black and white photographs of the producers adds value, being able to see what the major movers and shakers looked like. Also the inclusion of many contemporary adverts, where one can see both catalogue images, side-by-side with the actual article, often with original prices means that the reader gets a real feel for the period. (I loved the “Boys Wanted “ advert on page 22).
The last third of the book is particularly intriguing. The result of much new ground-breaking research, this section highlights how developed European carnival was, in the early part of the 20th century. What is especially interesting is the research carried out, which reveals the migration of men, ideas, designs and moulds, both across the Atlantic, and also within Europe itself. This history is as important as the items themselves. The authors have to be applauded for the number of previously unknown producers of iridised glass, which are now identified.
As the French locally would say, “Chapeau”, this is an amazing piece of work, and I will doff my cap too. This book is absolutely essential, a “must have”, and will be a very rewarding read, as well as THE guide to the world of Carnival Glass .