Collectors Facts - Beetle Ashtray, Cristalerias Rigolleau, Argentina
Marigold; Amber; Blue; Purple. Scarce.
The maker of the superb Beetle Ashtray is not a puzzle, for it is clearly set out on the front of the piece (see right): Cristalerias Rigolleau of Buenos Aires.
From our research, we know that this was the actual glassmaker - it was not an advertising piece made for them by some other factory.
In smaller letters you can read the words “Sociedad Anonima Usinas En Berazategui F.C.S.” which means “Limited Liability Company of Berazategui”, Berazatequi being the location of Rigolleau’s factory. In the very centre of the ashtray is a triangle, enclosing a circle that features a pair of goblets flanking a carafe, no doubt intended to be indicative of the goods produced by the factory.
Their splendid Beetle Ashtray measures 5½ inches across and has eight raised beetle or scarab shapes around its perimeter: the beetle is an auspicious motif, representing good fortune and rebirth.
The Story Behind The Glass
Back in the late 1960s, a US Carnival collector, Wily Aldis, went on a glass “hunting” trip in Ohio and came across a blue Beetle Ashtray. The piece had not been seen by Carnival collectors before so Aldis set about researching it.
The ashtray was conveniently emblazoned with the name and location of the maker - Cristalerias Rigolleau. The business was founded around the turn of the century by a Frenchman, Leon Rigolleau, and in common with many of the other Carnival producers from South and Central America, Cristalerias Rigolleau was originally a glass bottle and container manufacturer.
Aldis sent off enquiries and was eventually rewarded with an informative reply from Carlos Righetti, the General Manager of Cristalerias Rigolleau.
Righetti stated that the Beetle Ashtray was a limited item, produced between around 1925 and 1945, and was a “souvenir piece that was given to special customers”. He further said that it was made in blue and amber “metallic” (Carnival) as well as plain blue, clear and opal glass. We have also seen an enamelled opal (milk glass) example, where the beetles were picked out in decorative paintwork.
Marigold Carnival examples are also reported. The startling thing about the example shown top right is the base colour. At first glance from the front one would think it to be blue, but the vivid iridescence belies the base colour, which is in fact—amber!
The base colour of the Beetle Ashtray
shown top left was a surprise: amber!
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