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Carnival Vase tops $100,000 at auction

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In the hoopla over prices paid, let's not forget the history of this piece. The fanciful story is that the vase was created by John W. Fenton to somehow honor the Amish plain people in and around Millersburg. In fact, the people depicted are not in the dress or custom of the Amish, and the vase was called "Holland vase" in an original inventory of the failing Millersburg plant (see Marie McGee's book for details).

Where did it's current name come from?

I realise that Carnival collectors are naming vases on discovery, but why not revert to the original name when it is uncovered?

The name "People's Vase" was given it by Marion Hartung, who was one of the first writers and researchers on Carnival. Contemporary with Hartung was another well-known early researcher/writer - Rose Presznick. Rose gave the vase another name - she called it "First Thanksgiving".

Both of these names were given and in use long before the Millersburg (court ordered) 1911 inventory was found in which item number 70 was called "Holland Vase". It is extremely likely - but not 100% possible to be certain - that this was the People's vase. This is noted in Marie McGee's "Millersburg" book, edited by Dr. Measell.

So why not revert to the original name when that is discovered? A good question and I'll try to answer it.

First, the name People's Vase has been in use by collectors for a long time. Longer than the knowledge that it might have been originally referred to as "Holland". The name is in the collectors' language and terminology. Making a fundamental alteration like that may be a scholarly thing to do, but it isn't the way it works in practice.

I have found many "original" names for patterns in my research. But it would be impossible to hope that the original names might become common currency in the collector's vocabulary. A good example would be Brockwitz' "Rose Garden" pattern. The Brockwitz name for this was "Rosen". The Eda name for it (yes they made it too) was "Rosor". I have made all of these names known to Carnival Glass collectors....and so which of the names do you think is the one that the pattern is known by? "Rose Garden" of course. That was the name given to it by Hartung (back in the 1960s) and that's the name that sticks.

My personal approach to this (and I think I have mentioned it before on the GMB, but I certainly have stated it clearly in Carnival Glass circles) is that in my (strictly "our") books I use all known names. Thus Rose Garden has the "aka"s I mentioned above.

So, back to Dr Measell's comment about "hoopla". First let me say that I never - never - forget the history of any piece of glass. I have researched and written extensively on the history of Carnival Glass. However, when I posted about this particular auction, I felt (and still do) that the social history being made in front of our eyes is worthy of study. The unfolding history regarding changes of ownership and the corresponding detailed documentation of the People's Vase is (in my humble opinion) fully deserving of attention.

Glen Thistlewood

An impressive response Glen, I bow to your quality approach. Thank you.


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