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Tornado Vases

Northwood's Tornado vase dates from the 1911-1912 period, offering a style found on some very expensive art glass of that period in history. Sizes range: 6”-6 ½”, plain background, in marigold, amethyst, green and white. 6”-6 ½ ”, ribbed background, in marigold, amethyst, cobalt blue, white, ice blue; cone-shaped whimsey, flared top in marigold, lavender or wisteria, sapphire blue; pedestal footed, in marigold. Since the existence of some stretch iridescent examples are found, we must conclude that at least some limited production occurred as late as 1916. Most Northwood Tornado vases carry N the trademark.

Note: The larger size vase having plain background is occasionally found with a green glass tornado, at least in marigold. The tornado was applied by hand, using a `glob' of glass, creating the tail; going back to the affixed place with a small tool, creating the “dots” in the “eye”. Looking closely, you will see that those dots are not in any given pattern. They vary according to the way the handler picked up and applied the tool. This handwork requires artistic efficiency. (The man was an aficionado at his trade, to say the very least!)

Style variations lend intriguing question as to the reason some vases are found with a distinct collar base (marie), while others have a flat base which appears to have been ground. Another variation offers a ribbed exterior background. Rarer still is the version which rests on a pedestal foot. Considering the triangular crimp on the top edge found on most; still, there are vases with stretch effect to the iridescence having the cone-shaped top. Why so much variation in a vase which is certainly not prevalently found by today's collectors? One answer is that problems developed in the moulding process. A time-span of four-five years, with resultant limited production creates a mystery which very likely will never be solved.

A calculated “guesstimate” for the expanse of time over which these vases were made, is that all variations in the Tornado line were not in production at the same time. For instance: Perhaps the pedestal versions came first, as a carry-over from the Stourbridge vase previously made in England. With so few known today, we can assume production to have been brief, or breakage, tremendous. If the larger, smooth surfaced ones were offered next, with mild success, perhaps a lapse of time occurred in having the smaller, ribbed version mould made, thinking it would be more acceptable to buyers? The stretch processed vases would have come much later, indicating yet another mould alteration to create the flat bottom.

Marigold 'Stourbridge' Vase. Courtesy Jonathan Valori.1-16-12.
Marigold 'Stourbridge' Vase. Courtesy Jonathan Valori.1-16-12.

The very rare `Stourbridge' Tornado vase is scarcely ever found for sale. This 6 ½” hand blown Emeraldine (green) example was displayed over ebay quite sometime ago, available from Yamba, New South Wales, Australia with a Buy It Now price in U.S. funds: $3,750. Possibly made by the glass firm of Webb and Sons of Stourbridge, England. The handblown pontil mark is visible on the base; said to have been produced about a year before Harry Northwood's later and more readily recognizable `Tornado'. Iridescence is superb and they were no doubt costly to produce because of the master-crafted process involved in manufacture. Equal in quality to Tiffany, the marigold luster is exquisite!
These vases are said to have been originally sold in the prestigious `Harrods' of London in 1909. Motif's, or Tornado's are hand blown glass applique's of around 4” in length, in an Emerald Green colour, called Emeraldene by Harrods'. The vase is 2 ½” across. The last known example of these vases to sell in 2003 brought $4,700. The “emeraldine” effect is much more rare than marigold examples.

“Emeraldine - Stourbridge” pedestal vase is found in three sizes. The other two sizes are approximately 5” and 6” in height. Only a few are known in the emeraldine coloration. While these vases may predate the United States version of Tornado vase, since Harry Northwood descends from the Stourbridge area of England, some of the later pedestal Tornado vases known to be from Northwood production, also offer the same “peacock tail” stylized approach to “tornado”. For instance, look closely at the sapphire example. Identical “dots” appear within the eye of the tornado as those seen in the emeraldine vases.


Of the vases having a plain background and triangular crimped top, green is most prevalent. Amethyst is harder to locate and marigold even more so. White is very scarce.


Those vases having the ribbed background and triangular crimped top seem to be rare in any color, with amethyst showing itself more often than the other colors. Ice blue is far and away the rarest, with only two or three known. Marigold, cobalt blue and white are the other colors known.

We believe that one in each color (marigold, wisteria, and sapphire) of the cone-shaped vase with flared top are all that exist. Considering the pronounced stretch-effect in the iridescence, shaping was done after the spray was applied.


Only three or four of the marigold pedestal base Tornado Variant are known. One of them has a four-ruffle top, while the others offer a three-ruffle crimped top edge. 7 ½” in height; about an inch taller than the standard vase. The pedestal base is similar to that found on the Northwood Corn Vase. While unsigned, consensus is that they are a Northwood product. These Variants have thus far been found in marigold only. One of these sold in the late `90s for $1900.

This larger size is harder to find in amethyst than green, with marigold found least often. Most examples carry the Northwood trademark. The large vase has a 3” base and is about 6 5/8” tall. The slight difference in size between the large and small vases is a mystery.

Dean & Diane Fry - 6/07

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

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