Kite Patterns Endure the Winds of Time
By Mary Patterson
Reprinted from The Hobstar, October 1990
The "Kite" pattern, designed by William C. Anderson and patented by him on May 9, 1893 for the Libbey Glass Co., is the first of two "Kite" patterns designed by him. Both patterns were, however, named by Albert Christian Revi in his book, "American Cut and Engraved Glass," and not by Anderson. In his patent specifications however, Anderson referred to kite—shaped fields in both designs. So, in spite of different designs, Revi named them both "Kite". William C. Anderson started work for the New England Glass Co., and their well—known "Middlesex" pattern was designed by him. He continued working for the Libbey’s after they took over the New England Glass Co., moving to Toledo, Ohio, in 1888 when the Libbey Glass Co. was relocated there. In Toledo he was superintendent of the cutting department and continued to design many cut glass patterns for them.
I have a bowl in this first "Kite" pattern. It is a family piece and we were fortunate enough to be able to know where and when it was purchased. My Great-Aunt Edith bought it during the summer of 1894 from C. D. Peacock, a very fine Jewelry and Gift store across the street from Marshall Field & Co. in Chicago, Illinois. My aunt was always very impressed that the salesman at Peacock’s had guaranteed her that the bowl was AUSTRIAN CUT GLASS!!! (Shame on Peacock’s! Surely they knew better!) Not for a minute was this bowl to be compared to the cheaper American Cut Glass! She explained that to me every time I admired the bowl.
Revi describes this misrepresentation of American glass as European or English. He says in his book, American Cut and Engraved Glass, page 12, last paragraph, "Before 1893 the wholesale and retail dealers in cut glass refused to recognize the product they were selling as American— made and very often presented it to their clients as imports from English and Continental cut glass factories." He goes on to describe the costly advertising campaign mounted by American glass companies to stop such practices and gain their rightful recognition. Unfortunately their efforts were totally lost on Aunt Edith. To her the Austrian attribution of her bowl was what she wanted to believe and it made her happy. I was equally happy when I was able to establish that the bowl was indeed American, and not Austrian. Not only was it cut by Libbey, but I was further elated to learn that it was one of their patented designs, thus removing all doubt as to the country of origin.
The second "Kite" pattern designed by Anderson and named by Revi was also a patented design. This second "Kite" pattern was patented on May 18, 1897, shortly after Anderson left Libbey to establish his own company; the American Cut Glass Co., in Chicago, Illinois. Here he was President and Manager, so that most likely he designed most, if not all, of their patterns for cut glass. It is interesting to note however, that the records indicate that Anderson continued to design for Libbey as well as for his own company. so there are two different designs with the same name. I mention this because, unless the patent dates are noted, this might cause some confusion in pattern identification. This second "Kite" pattern was pictured in the Pattern Quiz of the May 1989 HOBSTAR and identified in the July 1989 issue. Both patterns are very lovely and representative of American Cut Glass of the Brilliant Period.
Sorry about that Aunt Edith!!Back to articles index