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Northwood Tree Trunk Vases

Northwood Tree Trunk Vases
By George E. Thomas
(Reprinted here as the article appeared in various Club Newsletters in 1994.)

This article is intended to assist collectors, especially new collectors, who have become interested in Tree Trunk vases. Also, an important purpose of this effort is to define the descriptive phrase “elephant foot”.

In the late 1970's when I became interested in carnival, Tree Trunk vases were described as funeral, elephant foot, mid-size and standard, or with no description at all, meaning standard. Primarily these designations were relative to the diameter of the base. The exception being the height of the funeral and elephant foot vases.

In recent years, some collectors and auctioneers, have confused the issue by describing regular Tree Trunk funeral vases as elephant foot vases; it doesn't seem to matter how tall they are. Also, mid-size vases have become mid-size funeral vases. This misrepresentation probably was the result of the expectation that by attaching “elephant foot” to a funeral vase and/or “funeral” to a mid-size vase, the selling price, through confusion, would increase.

Then, also, some started using “elephant foot base” on other patterns of funeral vases to describe the approximately one inch band above the base an below the pattern.

The phrase “elephant foot” was coined by John Muehlbauer. In the mid 1970's, he purchased a pair of short marigold Tree Trunk funeral vases. He said they reminded him of elephant feet and used the term in articles when describing his rare, short, marigold and not so rare amethyst Tree Trunk vases. Thanks to John, collectors and auctioneers started using “elephant foot” to distinguish the rarer Tree Trunk funeral vases, 15” or under, from the more plentiful taller Tree Trunk funeral vases.  It's time to insist upon the correct and accurate use of the phrase.

It is hoped the following descriptions of Northwood's Tree Trunk vases will be helpful.

ELEPHANT FOOT VASES: Base over 5” with a band. Height 15” or less. These are the rarities
in Tree Trunk vases. As far as I know, there are 3 green and 4 marigold. There are several amethyst, but they still bring a high price. A couple of the amethyst vases have been flared to approximately 10 ½” and are rightfully designated whimseys.

FUNERAL VASES: Base over 5” with a band. Height over 15”. Most of these vases are between 17” and 20” in height. Very rare in ice blue (3), ice green (4) and marigold (4). Rare in white, with up to six known. Blue and green are also rare.   Scarce in amethyst. This vase comes in a non-iridized custard with nutmeg finish.

MID-SIZE VASES: Base over 4 ½” with no band. Height from 12” and up. Very rare in marigold on milk glass, blue slag and aqua opal. Rare in ice blue and ice green. Scarce in amethyst, blue, green, marigold and white.

MID-SIZE VARIANT VASES: Base 3 ¾” with a band of approximately ½”. Height 13 ¾”, more or less. These are rare in any color. I have seen, and luckily own, amethyst, green and marigold. I suspect there are others out there.

STANDARD VASES: Base 3 ½”, give or take 1/8”, due to the high cupped inner base. Height over 7”. Very rare in sapphire, rare in aqua opal and teal. Scarce in green, ice blue, ice green and white.  Available in amethyst, cobalt blue and marigold.

STANDARD STUBBY VASES: Recently, this short vase has become very popular and will usually bring a higher price than the standard vase. Base 3 ½”. Height under 7”. Rare in ice blue, ice green and mint green. Scarce in green and white. Available in amethyst, blue and marigold.

STANDARD STUBBY VARIANT VASES: Base 3 ½”. Height 7” or under. This vase has a star in the base. I have two of these - green and marigold. The flame points are different from the regular standard vases. I am certain there are several of these, but the differences haven't been noted.

In conclusion, please bear in mind that these were my personal opinions when I wrote the article in late 1991 and I have revised it in late 1994 to include colors not previously listed. As we have learned, we must be ready to accept new findings and new facts. Ours is a learning hobby and I will be most interested in hearing from anyone who has constructive additions or corrections to the content of this article about Tree Trunk vases.

George, if there are updates to be made to any of your former statements in this article, we would appreciate hearing from you. Best Regards ~ Dean & Diane
Standard 12 in. amethyst TREE TRUNK vase
AO nine and one-half in. TREE TRUNK Standard vase
Amethyst Standard size vase
A.O. Standard size vase

The lovely amethyst Standard size vase is where this carnival collecting adventure began for the Frys in the summer of 1968, while we still lived in Parkersburg, WV.  Diane went to a shop on the south side of town with intent to purchase the three old cobalt blue Shirley Temple pieces (mug, bowl and creamer), after word was received that the shop owner had decided to sell her accumulation of them.

Upon arrival, the morning sun reflected off this vase as it sat across the room. Walking over towards it, asking what to call it, realizing she had never seen anything like this before, she became enthralled with the flow of color in the iridescence, and decided to buy it, instead of the Shirley Temple ware!

She placed it on the piano when she returned home, knowing that Dean would see it there, when he arrived home from work. She waited to hear his reaction, without telling him about it first! “What is this?” he asked. After telling her story of where this came from, he simply stated, “Well, we'll have to get some more of this!”

As many of us know, only too well, life's obligations create latent desires. Not until 1972 or so, after moving to San Diego, did we purchase a couple of more carnival glass examples in a downtown mall.

Then in 1981, we REALLY got into the “act”! The “iridescent path” has led to many pleasant experiences, friendships and associations we would never have otherwise enjoyed.

On occasion, a Jester Cap shape-or-Jack-in-the-Pulpit type is found in this standard size vase.
It would have been very nice, had that first piece been an aqua opal example, but lady luck is so seldom in “your corner” when you need her. (smile)

Green Mid-size vase
Marigold over custard Mid-size vase

     The green Mid-size vase is not too difficult to obtain, and when the iridescence lends a green glow, the result is quite pleasing! Vases of various sizes and pattern offer great dimension to a display of carnival glass. Everybody should have at least a dozen or so. (smile)

     The marigold over custard Mid-size poses a problem in locating. That color, and the aqua opal might well take top honors, since only a few examples are known.

Northwood-blue slag-Mid-Size TREE TRUNK-said to be the only one known
Blue slag mid-size vase

     A collector from Tulsa, OK , named Elvis Randell  discovered this only known iridized blue slag Mid-size vase in the late `80's.

Unusually wide mouth  ( 8 in.) on this twenty-two and a half in.TREE TRUNK Funeral.
 Marigold Funeral Vase

     Richard Cinclair of Texas,  provided picture and details about his prize marigold Funeral vase.  We call your attention to the extremely wide mouth~~(8”) opening on this vase! After reading what George Thomas has to say about this color in the Funeral size, we wonder whether this one belonging to Richard is one of the four known in marigold? In any case, it is a prize possession!

Ice Blue TREE TRUNK Funeral
TREE TRUNK FUNERAL-19 in. in Amethyst
Ice blue Funeral Vase
Amethyst Funeral Vase

     The ice blue Funeral size shown is very rare. Only two or three in ice blue are known. Although the two confirmed marigold on custard Funerals known stand only 16” tall, they were made with the 5 ¼” base size, which technically qualifies them as funeral vases.
Amethyst Funeral vases are quite scarce.

15 in. Elephant Foot ameth. TREE TRUNK
15 inch Elephant Foot Amethyst TREE TRUNK

     The Elephant Foot vases  sometimes have a flared top which is equal to or surpassing the height of the vase itself. These are extremely rare in any color, but amethyst is the most often found color. A couple of green examples and one confirmed marigold exist. Cobalt has been reported.

Jardiniere type TREE TRUNK Funeral vase
Squatty Jardiniere type Funeral

     The squatty Jardiniere type Funeral vase makes headlines when it appears in a display. So few are known, and the likelihood of “finding” one in some obscure place while out on the “trail” is remote. However, there are exceptions!  (Please read the account written by Don & Lynda Grizzle, in the SHARING section of this site.) This vase is the fluted or ruffled version of the Funeral vase~~more or less as it emerges from the mold before “swinging” would take place for lengthening.

7 in. Standard Stubby TREE TRUNK vase in ice blue
Unusually Stubby ice green TREE TRUNK Standard vase @ 7 in.
Ice Blue and Ice Green Standard Stubby Vases

     The Standard Stubby vase or “called by some-squat vases” in ice blue and ice green 7” size is rarely found, and will sometimes bring a large amount of money simply for its unusual attributes. The more pronounced pattern “strike”, lacking the “swung” effect is quite desirable to many collectors.

D/D Fry~~11/04
If I can help somebody as I pass along,
If I can cheer somebody with word or song,
If I can show somebody that he's traveling wrong
Then my living shall not be in vain.

Should you care to contact the Frys, their email address is:

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