Author: Jean Chapman Loomis
Published by J. C. Loomis (1st January 2001)
Book size: 22.5 x 15.5 x 1.2 cm.
Edition run unknown Pricing and postal details:
currently available at US$18. including postage within the United States - and US$26 inclusive of shipping to the U.K.
See end of review for website details.
The late Jean Chapman Loomis commences her book with a traditional ‘Introduction’, followed with a ‘Brief History’ of the interesting life of this now quite famous trademarked pressed glass. The known patterns are then discussed, including the attractive ruby stained and opaque custard coloured pieces, with the author then devoting some considerable number of pages to the most famous of all ‘Krys-Tol’ patterns – ‘Chippendale’.
Interspersed throughout these chapters are many examples of original trade advertisements, created to display the various patterns. Finally, and perhaps of most use, is a reproduction of a Jefferson Glass Company No. 40 catalogue c. 1915, showing what appears to be the complete ‘Chippendale’ output as at that date. The booklet is completed with a price guide, and a very useful bibliography.
In her introduction, we see how this book became for the author a labour of love, taking her to many locations in order to acquire information which would provide a reliable handbook for collectors.
‘Krys-Tol’ emerges only in the early 20th century, and this book gives an interesting account of one Benjamin W. Jacobs, to whom it would seem we owe the origins, not only of a new glass process, but also the invention of the word ‘Krys-Tol’ itself. Utilizing a more intense furnace heat, the end result was a glass of far greater brilliance and durability, the purpose of which was to emulate traditional cut glass. That Mr. Jacobs succeeded is borne out by the many trade publications which lauded the beauty and extensiveness of his ‘Krys-Tol’ range.
‘Krys-Tol’ commenced life late in 1905, under Jacobs' direction whilst he was president of the Ohio Flint Glass Company. However, contrary to the success of his products, business fortunes for the Ohio Flint were not sustained, and after bankruptcy, both the patents and moulds for all patterns passed successively to Jefferson Glass Company in 1908 (again under the direction of the same Mr. Jacobs), and finally to Central Glass Works in 1918. At this date, the line consisted of over 400 different pieces and designs, and we learn that Central Glass had plans to create an even more extensive range.
However, despite much hype and many trade publication advertisements, by the mid 1920’s the popularity of ‘Chippendale’ had waned, and despite being the most successful and famous of all the patterns – being sold around the world (including China) - competition, and changing fashions brought a terminal decline to Central Glass Works.
We learn that in 1929 the patents were sold to Charles J. Pratt of London (UK), and some ten years later Central Glass was forced to close, and the remaining moulds were sold.
The rest as they say, is history, with Mr. Pratt having the glass made by George Davidson at Gateshead, and so ‘Chippendale’ became British, with Davidson eventually purchasing the Pratt moulds, continuing to offer the name for several years.
Just a snippet or two for those interested in oddities………. ’Chippendale’ vases could be big – 30 inches tall with a 6.5 inch base width! - and there are massive punch bowls with hobnail, stars and daisy wheels to take your breath away. As for modern values, back in 2001 it seems that a ruby stained cruet and a custard coloured half gallon jug could fetch something like US$400 each, although many pieces were well below $50.
Loomis was a pioneer in the real sense that nothing of any substance had been published on ‘Krys-Tol’ prior to her book, and the author succeeds in bringing together much information hitherto uncollated. For British collectors, price guides are an oddity and probably of little use, and the bibliography whilst very interesting is of more use in the States than the UK, possibly. The font is lightly serifed, of a reasonable size, and is easy on the eye.
There are criticisms. I would have liked an explanation of the processes for the ruby staining and perhaps a little more regarding the custard examples. Overall, the coloured pictures are not good, some lacking clarity or contrast, and in some cases (in my copy only perhaps?) even without a caption. It would have been intriguing to have seen ‘Moonstone’ in colour – which in simple black and white matt looks as though it may be just a piece of clear glass. Photographs of examples of clear glass are poor, looking very two dimensional, although the book doesn’t make it clear as to the origin of these.
In some of the early pages the proof reading seems to have lacked concentration, with spelling errors and various omission apparent, but thence on all seems to be OK. For the UK market the usual spelling variations are to be expected i.e. mold/color/rumor/favorite/catalog etc. - but irritating contradictions then creep in such as ‘moulded’ and ‘catalogued’. I have been unable to find out if the second printing corrected any of these errors.
Despite its faults, the book represents good value for money - not least because there is nothing available presently to rival it – but more importantly because the book is genuinely an interesting and original read. If anyone does improve on Jean Chapman Loomis’s book, it will only be as a consequence of this authors hard work and original investigation.
Copies may be obtained direct from: http://www.wendyloomis.com/products.html