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Dragon and Lotus - Part 2
DRAGON & LOTUS – Part 2
April 1913 Butler Brothers Catalog Ad
Most will agree that the best known pattern in all of Carnival is Northwood’s famous Grape & Cable. Running a very close second is Fenton’s Dragon & Lotus. It is remarkable that a pattern found only in a bowl and plate of some 9” in diameter could achieve such popularity and acclaim.
The unusual combination of elements, i.e. Dragon and Lotus arose from a fascination of “things oriental” by Frank L. Fenton. This fact was divulged during a conversation with the late Frank M. Fenton about the matter.
Certainly the wide range of colors within the pattern contribute to its overall acceptance. And to be sure, it presents a graceful, well balanced and beautiful pattern, with the oriental theme adding an element of mystique and charm.
An ad in the April 1913 Butler Brothers Wholesale Catalog displays a ruffled, collar base bowl. A testimonial to the popularity of this pattern is the fact that it continued in production for more than ten years. The February 1924 Butler Brothers Catalog carried an ad for the pattern, although the price had risen from 85 cents per doz. to $2.15 per doz.
Basically, 9” bowls having collar base or spatula feet and 9 ¼”- 9 ½” plates on collar bases comprise the range of shapes known (from factory production).
Collar base bowls and plates are seen more often than the spatula footed variety. Factory produced flat plates are quite rare; known only in marigold and blue, with an example or two of amethyst and green. Peach opal spatula footed plates numbering two are known.
As with most Fenton patterns, green is usually more difficult to find than blue, marigold or amethyst. An amber ice cream bowl shape is quite hard to locate. Although red ruffled, or ice cream shape bowls are quite popular, it would be difficult to call them rare. Nevertheless the strong appeal produces a high price! The Roebuck auction in March of 1980 was one of the very early auctions to produce premium prices for premium examples. A red Dragon & Lotus bowl brought $600; quite an increase over $125 paid for a nice one in 1969!
DRAGON & LOTUS in Lime Green Opal
Low - Ruffle collar base.
Although more rare than red, who could predict that a lime green opal ruffled bowl would surpass a red one? Indeed one did. $775 was paid at the Mells’ auction in Oct. of 1981! Surely it is more rare, with possibly 10 -15 red bowls for each one in lime green opal. Incidentally: although you will see/hear reference to lime opal, ice green opal and vaseline opal, so far as we are concerned they are all the same color even though true tones may vary from piece to piece. This tonal variation is true of red, blue, marigold or in fact any of the Carnival colors. Please bear in mind that a shovel-full of element in this or that combination is a far cry from the technical measurements found in today’s production.
Aqua Opal ruffled or spatula footed bowls offer much less opal than we are accustomed to seeing on Northwood pieces. Fenton made few pieces in this color and they are usually on the darker, butterscotch side, rather than in the pastel tones. Despite the differences, this color is as difficult to locate as lime green opal.
Factory produced Blue collar base plates are estimated to number 10-12, with 8-10 known in marigold.
DRAGON & LOTUS Low Ruffle,
Mgld. over Moonstone. Collar Base
Marigold over moonstone is quite a pretty color combination and not often seen.
We should mention that the 3/1 edge crimp was used on many of the bowls in this pattern.
Please take note:
Smooth exteriors which lack pattern are more easily re-heated to smooth out former bowl ruffles. There should be no over-spray within the collar base of ANY factory produced bona fide’ flat plate! Use of a clamp while spraying prevents that. For example: Any brighter, new-looking marigold spray (or any other color) used on the exterior should raise questions about when and who performed the transition. i.e., the use of this over spray is to cover up the scorched areas where heat was applied to soften the glass for re-shaping. You do understand that we cannot call names here, although they are known to us.
Latter-day bowl makeovers into “plate forms” with tell-tale exterior roughness sloppily covered up with over-spray are known to exist, not only in marigold Dragon/Lotus, but Holly, Persian Medallion, Orange Tree and Wild Blackberry patterns, among others. We have also handled a make-over in the blue Peacock/Urn having Bearded Berry exterior. (A real melted mess!) This re-heating/partially flattening, after-market stealth operation has fooled a great many already.
If former slight ruffling is evident along the outer edge of a piece “called a plate”, be suspicious! Fenton Glass Co. made unmistakably FLAT plates……….NO in betweens!
We own some 200 Authentic Fenton FLAT plates!......Not a ruffled edge among them! No roughness, nor “peculiar-looking” over-spray on the exterior, either.
Our concerns are for incoming/new collectors. When seasoned collectors who should know better, allow themselves to be fooled, the risks are disturbing.
In April 1993, we traveled from San Diego with a $5000. check from Ardonna Bucher for what was (said to be the FIRST mgld. spatula footed plate in Dragon & Lotus). The auction of glass from a prominent collector of that time, was conducted by one of our well-known auctioneers who had not seen the glass prior to traveling there to perform the auction (he told us later).
Among the throng of collectors in attendance were at least two well-known dealers still in our midst today! One of them spotted this fraudulent plate and made an open display of disdain for everyone to grasp! Another dealer purchased that fraud for some $350. It later turned up in the collection of the late Roger Gladson, a Dragon collector. Unfortunately, that “mess” is probably still out there somewhere.
The worst case scenario for these “makeovers” is the downgrading of the truly RARE factory-made plates from the greedy, self-serving attitude of those who KNOW what they do, but insist upon making a “buck” any way they can! Since that first footed Dragon/Lotus in 1993, the perpetrators have become somewhat more “clever and accomplished”. A word to the wise should be sufficient! A fool and his money soon part company.
Dean & Diane Fry – 8/07
Should you care to contact the Frys, their email address is:
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