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Imperial Watersets - Part 1
IMPERIAL WATERSETS - Part 1
FLUTE: Although the delightful little toothpick holder in the #700 Imperial line, called Flute is most familiar to collectors in marigold, purple and helios, there are other notable shapes in this very simple but elegant pattern worthy of consideration. A berry set, breakfast creamer and sugar, celery vase, punch set and three types of tumblers, which make their appearances only on rare occasions, extend the influence. (Many of these shapes are already, or soon will be shown in other segments on this 101 site. Please refer to the Alphabet on the homepage for patterns.)
Water pitchers in marigold, helios and cobalt blue are as scarce as those in purple, actually. The tumbler shape shown in the Imperial Catalog ad is called Flute tumbler #3 variant. It is known in purple, marigold and helios, cobalt blue, clambroth, aqua and smoke. This is the correct tumbler for the marigold and purple Flute pitchers pictured here. It rests on a collar base and has nine Flute panels.
Flute variant tumbler #2 has six Flute panels, a hexagonal base, no collar base, has straight sides with no flare top or bottom. Reported only in purple and would be considered a tankard version of the shorter Flute variant tumbler #1.
Flute variant tumbler #4, we believe to be represented with the footed pitcher. It has six Flute panels, has no collar base, straight sides with no top or bottom flare, and is a shorter version of the Flute #2 tumbler.
Flute variant tumbler #1 contains six Flute panels, the bottom is hexagonal in shape, and there is no collar base. The top and base are widely flared. It is known in marigold, purple, and at least one amber example is known. It measures 3 3/4 ” to 4 ¼” tall, depending on how widely it is flared.
FLUTE Water Pitcher - Footed: This six piece set was listed and sold as a very scarce Imperial Flute during a Burns sale in mid -1999. Dean decided it was something he could not live without, although we had never seen anything like it before. As is nearly always the case, the number of others in the bidding crowd who knew more than we did, caused the closing bid to be $525! Then on the way home, we stopped to go through a large mall we had not explored previously, and THERE was the sixth tumbler to complete the set at a reasonable price! This was turning into a pretty good day after all!
Each of the tumbler bottoms has the same star design as the pitcher, but each one was slightly ground at the factory, on the bottom rim edge.
The 1909 Imperial Catalog had not been discovered yet when Carl O. Burns created his 1996 Imperial Book, and apparently he had not seen this footed version of the Imperial Flute. However, he does illustrate the Flute #2 variant tumbler which looks like this one.
For those of you who have the 1909 Catalog Reprint, you may turn to page 49, where the identical pitcher is noted as No. 393 1/2/27. The matching tumbler is illustrated on page 79. Both examples of the design show a sandblast etching---presumably on the crystal version. When the marigold sets were manufactured, of course the etching was deleted - (ground smooth). We are left to conclude that since Tom Burns nor Carl O. Burns had seen this set previously, there cannot be very many still available. It is the type set which would have been utilitarian, with breakage a result. Occasionally something unlisted is still found. Isn't it beautiful? The round base on the pitcher has the same starred base as seen on the tumblers.
Note: Flute variant tumbler #4 shown with the footed pitcher. It has a shorter top border than the tankard tumbler #2, has a starred, hexagon-shaped bottom which is slightly ground, is 2 1/8” wide, with straight sides, and is 4” tall.
An email letter from Bob Smith arrived Sept. 8, 2005, which describes the blue and olive green tumblers you see above:
As rare as the blue Imperial Tiger Lily is, I can top that one with another Imperial Tiger Lily tumbler. This is another one that I never wrote up, but finally did an article on it that will appear in the HOACGA Bulletin some time in the months to come.
Truly a unique item. It is an Imperial Tiger Lily in the most gorgeous Olive Green one will ever see, but it's really unique feature is the silver plated pewter holder into which it is welded. It cannot be removed from the holder unless you broke the glass. As far as I know from collectors who have seen it - it is the only tumbler that has ever surfaced with such a feature. Some bowls and a few plates have surfaced that have such a holder.
Of course it has a story behind it. It was found in a Brimfield field in the pre-dawn hours with the help of a flashlight. It was in a booth less than 25 feet from Tom Burns' old RV in which he was still asleep. The moment it showed up in the beam of my flashlight, I knew I had found something really unique. It took two days of persistently asking the dealer for details about it. (Why is it that some dealers are so secretive about their antique sources?) I finally did manage to get the story behind it!
It seems that one of the Imperial Glass workers in Bellaire had it made for a newly organized church somewhere in the Bellaire area. Apparently it was to serve as some sort of chalice for the church. The church disbanded sometime in the 60s or 70s and the same worker brought it home with him. He died in the early 80s and his son sold some of his household goods to the antique dealer, among which was the tumbler.
Don Moore saw it at a HOACGA Convention I attended the next year and he told me that it was the most perfect example of an olive green that he had ever seen. John Britt pronounced it a museum piece. All very flattering, but I never got around to writing it up till the HOACGA article to come. A photo is attached and if you can use any of the above, by all means do so.
TIGER LILY: This intaglio pattern is confined to use on water sets, quite available in marigold and helios. Most of the other colors are more difficult to locate. Scarce sets are known in olive and a lovely shade of aqua or teal. The purple sets are spectacular to behold, usually exhibiting breathtaking iridescence. Rare as they are, a healthy and respectable price is required for ownership.
Tumblers are known in several other colors, including clambroth, cobalt blue, violet and a rare amber. Only two-three amber examples are known. The cobalt tumblers are extremely rare , with no matching pitchers reported in any of these rare colors. However, with persistent search, they may turn up.
The Tiger Lily Vt. tumbler of European origin is about 1/4” shorter than the Imperial tumbler, and presents a more squat appearance. It also lacks the collar base, resting instead on a flared lip which extends outward from the body of the tumbler base. Imperial tumblers have a 24-rayed star molded into the underside of the base. European tumblers carry a hobstar-like design, having a central, raised button on the base. The European copies came out of the 1920s and early 1930s era and are found in marigold and blue. There is also a pitcher to match.
Imperial water sets were reproduced, clearly trademarked with IG and were made in 1969 in ice blue. White sets were produced in the early 1970s. Pink sets were made in 1978, marked with LIG trademark. These sets are lovely in their own right and have become very collectible in their own right.
Dean & Diane Fry - 5/06
Should you care to contact the Frys, their email address is:
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