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CUSPIDORS – versus – Whimsies
D/D Fry - Nov. 2012

THISTLE Cuspidor-Courtesy Mike Carwile
THISTLE Cuspidor - Courtesy Mike Carwile
Ad from Spring 1912 Butler Bros. Wholesale Catalog.
Ad from Spring 1912 Butler Bros. Wholesale Catalog.

When we, (Dean & Diane Fry) created the Butler Brothers Reprint catalogs in 1994 from a combined 42 original Catalogs, the existence of this Thistle cuspidor was not known. Frank Fenton copied all pages from the original catalogs in his library for our use in creating the composite of carnival glass examples produced by the contributing manufacturers. Charlotte Williams simply shipped her catalogs down to us from Northern Ca. We were living in San Diego at the time. Carl Burns provided information from Baltimore Bargain House, Smyth & Co., etc.  Butler Bros. catalogs were apparently updated more often than each quarter, and we did not have access to the Spring 1912 issue until the mid-2000 time frame when we purchased several of the Catalogs discovered by Carl Burns while he researched for his 2000-2001 Northwood book.
Details of the Thistle design used for the Cuspidor are identical to those seen in the Fenton Thistle Banana Boat shape which is also seen in a 1912 Ad, (the notation in ink is by Frank Fenton) - continuing into 1920! All the designs were patented at that time. No one but Fenton could have used that Thistle design at that time in a highly competitive market!
The obvious question is: Why would the Cuspidor have appeared in a single ad? Cigarettes began replacing chewing tobacco use prior to 1920. We are inclined to believe that perhaps only a few samples were created in green, amethyst, (and marigold). If the traveling salesmen (my Dad {Diane’s} was a traveling salesman up until WWII, covering much of WV and the eastern counties of Ohio for a hardware company), received no orders, then only the samples remain(ed).
It should be declared rare good fortune that Mike Carwile picked up on its unusual appearance, when he wisely purchased this marigold example sold out of Kalamazoo over eBay in Oct. 2012! It is the first actual known discovery of the pattern. No other company would have used this design already in Fenton use. Mike says the Thistle design is repeated around the cuspidor in six panels. Measurements are: 4 7/8” tall x 6 ½” across. An original Spring 1912 Butler Bros. Wholesale Catalog #978 displays the item on page 362.
Design artistry is quite evident in studying this Thistle Cuspidor. Although at this time, no conclusive evidence exists as to its producer, we can appreciate the fact that it truly is a cuspidor; not one of the whimsey-types created by after-market re-shaping!
Other than the Crackle Cuspidor by Jeannette Glass Co. we can think of no other iridized examples. It is displayed in a 1927 Butler Catalog and can be seen in Crackle by Jeannette Glass segment listed on the homepage of

* A note surrounding the Butler Bros. Wholesale Catalogs: All of the 42 issues used for our Butler Reprints had been published in New York. The Spring 1912 issue came from the Chicago House. (BUTLER BROTHERS Exclusive Wholesalers of General Merchandise were located in New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Dallas.) It is quite possible that the various catalogs offered differing merchandise at any given point in time?

Mid-Spring 1912 Butler Bros. Catalog.
Mid-Spring 1912 Butler Bros. Catalog.
Feb. 1920 Butler Bros. Wholesale Catalog.
Feb. 1920 Butler Bros. Wholesale Catalog.
THISTLE Banana Boat-Blue-$170. Burns Auction..
THISTLE Banana Boat - Blue.
Sold for $170. at Burns Auction.
Unusual in Green--THISTLE Banana Boat.-$215.Wroda 6-10.
Unusual in Green -THISTLE Banana Boat.
Sold for $215. - Wroda Auction, June 2010.
WATERLILY and CATTAILS exterior pattern used for THISTLE Banana Boat-Ameth.
WATERLILY and CATTAILS exterior pattern used for THISTLE Banana Boat - Amethyst.

Oddities always attract attention! It is the “deliberately deformed” elements in iridized examples which have always been an extreme curiosity to us! Having grown up with knowing several knowledgeable (and clever) glass workers in the Fenton factory, we have knowledge of their willingness to “perform after hours feats of alteration, etc.” Have you never known a craftsperson who is ready to “make an extra buck” for creating something strange? As we have stated previously, MANY of them had (have) their own garage operations (at their homes), along old Rt. 50 leading east out of  Parkersburg ,WV.
If you believe that Fenton, or any of the other manufacturers would be able to ship such “distortions” to a client without serious consequences, please think again!
In the early ‘50s, I (Diane) worked as a designer in a children’s garment factory in Parkersburg. I have seen the result of shipping a “SINGLE” creep-all with poorly sown bib design to Sears Roebuck!  All thousand creep-alls were RETURNED - the entire shipment of red, blue and yellow examples! A whimsied example of glassware would have received the same refusal. (WHY do you think companies hire merchandise “checkers”? One of these altered (strange looking) items would have been tossed into the broken glass bin and hauled out to the “dump”. (As a kid, I could scarcely EVER find a single piece without a chip, or some damage in that dump!)  Mr. Fenton once told me that was the reason they put up the fence!........  “To keep you ornery kids out of there!” LOL!
In the years since 1963, when I purchased our first piece of Carnival Glass, while still living in Parkersburg; utter amazement outweighs logic, that anyone would throw such big money into these re-heated distortions!
The mould design of a Kittens toothpick or small bowl is shallow, but unusual and quite pretty.  What benefit is there in destroying that artful form with the result being a melted ball of glass and forking over thousands of dollars to own it?? REALLY!........ Enough said.
To “gather” a 9” Feathered Serpent bowl into the shape of a cuspidor is a feat, in and of itself, but it certainly obliterates the overall beauty of the original intent! The mould designers of that day in history should be “honored” for their skills.
Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary calls a “whimsey-whimsy”, an odd fancy; an idle notion; quaint, curious, or humorous. The altered shapes seen in the Orange Tree and Waterlily tumblers, as well as the Grape and Cable punch cup are surely in that category!
Incidentally, did you know that Waterlily and Cattails was the first iridized pattern from Fenton? It was marketed in both table sets and water sets.

KITTENS Spittoon-$3300.Seeck Auctions.
KITTENS Spittoon - Sold for $3300. at Seeck Auctions.
KITTENS Spittoon
KITTENS Spittoon
ORANGE TREE ORCHARD (former tumbler) 3.25 in. high x 2 & three-eighths in. base.$4650. eBay.
ORANGE TREE ORCHARD (former tumbler) -
3.25 in. high x 2 3/8 in. base. Sold for $4650. on eBay.
WATERLILY hat from tumbler.$300.Seeck Auctions.
WATERLILY hat from tumbler.
Sold for $300 at Seeck Auctions.
Only known FEATHERED SERPENT (green) Cuspidor 2.25 in. tall x 3. 50 in. wide.
Only known FEATHERED SERPENT (green) Cuspidor.
 2.25 inches tall x 3. 50 inches wide.
Whimsied GRAPE and CABLE Punch Cup..
Whimsied GRAPE & CABLE Punch Cup.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.  
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain comes down and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth,
and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void,
but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
(Isaiah 55:8-11)
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