Animals featured at glass show

Published Jan 9, 2013 at 11:05 am (Updated Jan 14, 2013 at 4:12 pm)

Most seasoned Pittsburghers, and even transplants, are aware of the major industries that built Pittsburgh to what it is today. Iron and steel, aluminum, boat and ship building and coal mining are well known. But did you know that Pittsburgh was once the world’s largest supplier of glass? The city’s strategic location on the inland river system helped to make western Pennsylvania the center of the nation’s glass industry by the time of the Civil War.

For the 38th year, Pittsburgh will host its Antiques Show & Sale, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 16 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Fort Couch Road, across from South Hills Village.

More than 45 dealers, including Mahla & Co. Antiques in the Strip District and the Antique Center of Strabane, will showcase legendary merchandise including Early American glass, artwork, furniture, lamps, pottery, books, vintage clothing, jewelry and linens. The well-known Ahfelds antique dealer from Lancaster will also be on hand.

Demonstrations are also planned by Roseplier’s Chair Caning & Antiques and Emilie Cohen Studios will offer gold leaf conservation and fine art framing.

The show’s sponsor, the Historical Glass Club of Pittsburgh, will once again present a special display of glassware. This year’s theme is animals on glass, entitled “The Victorian Glass Menagerie 1850-1910” featuring more than 150 privately-owned items.

From a glass butter dish featuring seahorses, to countless other items embellished with birds, polar bears, seals, elephants, dolphins, cows, squirrels, horses, rabbits, pigs, frogs, swans, fish, spiders, monkeys, dogs and cats. Both whimsical and endearing images show how the world of nature and its living beings have always held a place in our hearts. Just about every animal was introduced by glass manufacturers with proven success.

Victorians in England and America enjoyed their pets. Canaries traveled West with pioneer women, lapdogs were popular with aristocrats, St. Bernards offered protection to children, gentlemen hunted with various breeds of dogs, the cleanliness of mother cats was a good role model for young girls and ponies were ridden or pulled carts as did goats.

Throughout the Victorian era men and women were sentimental about domestic pets and animals of the wild. Shapes of birds and animals were patterned or etched on glass or added as finials. Prized possessions made in and around Pittsburgh for the most part, they have been passed down through generations.

“Glass has added considerably to the history of our area,” said Russ Crupe, national president of Duncan Miller Glass Co. “My love of glass goes back more than 30 years. I became familiar with it since both my mother and father worked in the glass industry for many years.”

As a special tie-in, the glass club will donate a portion of the show’s proceeds to local animal rescue sanctuaries.

Admission to the antique show is $5. Children under 12 will be admitted free. Early buyers may attend 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday. Cost is $10. For show details, call 412-734-5279.

Glass club member Dorothy Fels will offer identification of items 1:15-4:15 p.m. Jan. 27 at the Mt. Lebanon Public Library. Cost is $5 for two items. The library will feature examples of the Victorian Glass Menagerie 1850-1910 in its glass showcases during the month of February.

Historical Glass Club of Pittsburgh began in 1939 with Lowell Innes as president. The club split and the HGCP was incorporated on July 25, 1988.

2013 Exhibits

Local shows and sales include:

• Three Rivers Depression Era Glass Society, March 2-3, New Kensington

• Oglebay Institute’s 59th Antiques Show, April 6-7, Wheeling

• Duncan & Miller Glass Show, July 20-21, Washington

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