GlASS IN EARLY AMERICA - ARLENE PALMER
Hardcover book written by Arlen Palmer and published by the Winterthur Museum. This comprehensive study of glass used or made in America from the middle of the seventeenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century is divided into three parts: essays, catalogue entries, and appendixes. Each of the 423 objects in the catalogue is illustrated as close to actual size as page height permits. The seven essays that open the book move from a survey of glassmaking in Europe and the colonies to a brief history of the acquisition of glass by Henry Francis du Pont, whose collection at Winterthur is the basis for this book, and the acquisition and display of glass by the curators at Winterthur following the opening of the museum to the public in 1951. In the second part of the book, the catalogue section, the specifics on each piece of glass are presented. Using a novel approach based on function - drinking vessels, food service, ornamental vases and desk accessories, lighting devices, bottles and flasks, and a miscellaneous category that ranges from windowpanes to bird fountains - rather than geographic region or date, the author builds a story that incorporates data on use and manufacture of glass of each type as well as provenance of each piece. The approach allows the reader to comprehend how forms could persist over a broad span of time and understand how and why objects made hundreds of miles apart (by mobile glassworkers who took their tools with them when they changed jobs) can look strikingly similar. The 78 objects in the 24 color plates were selected to illustrate similarities in the colors of glass produced in different geographic locations and at various moments in time.
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