Charles Pratt and the Celeste Blue Mystery
Pottery Gazette, November 1923.
Note: National Glass Co. Ltd in the UK had no connection
with the National Glass Co. of the USA.
In the early 1990s, we spent several months in the archives of the British Library, researching old issues of the Pottery Gazette and Glass Trade Review Journals from the early 1900s. We found a lot of amazing information, including one fascinating article from April, 1925, which referred to celeste blue iridescent glassware being imported through Charles Pratt's National Glass Co.
Charles Pratt was born in 1871. He was connected with the glass industry for most of his business life, and was responsible for the widespread introduction of American pressed table glassware to the English market. Pratt founded the National Glass Co. Ltd. which acted as agent for some of the foremost US glass factories, such as Fenton. Pratt brought vast quantities of Carnival Glass to England.
National Glass Co. Ltd had offices in London at 1 Charterhouse Street. Shown above is one of their ads, from November 1923, aimed at the British wholesale market, especially the Christmas Trade. The ad boasted “a very extensive range of shapes and designs” in “the original iridescent glassware”, with immediate delivery for the Christmas Trade. Pratt himself is purported to have ordered gold and green Carnival and it is accepted wisdom that some unusual Carnival has been sourced in the UK in green, such as the Peter Rabbit pieces. It seems likely that we have Charles Pratt to thank for that.
We also owe him a debt of thanks for spotting the beauty of celeste blue Carnival Glass and bringing that into the UK too!
Here are quotes from the 1925 “Pottery Gazette” in a section about the National Glass in which it explained that Pratt had recently returned from America “full of enthusiasm” for the glass:
“In the old iridescent ware, which was at one time chiefly supplied in a golden orange tint, a new celeste blue, having a kind of satin sheen finish, is being offered, with a new style of crinkled edge.”
You have to wonder if Charles Pratt might even have bought some Carnival Glass himself, and what pieces he would have chosen. A green Concord plate or maybe a green Mikado comport, perhaps? Or maybe he chose the “new celeste blue” Carnival, and kept back a Plaid or Holly bowl for himself!
What is Celeste Blue Carnival Glass?
Fenton and Dugan-Diamond made this colour, and a small amount from Northwood (mainly Stretch glass).
Celeste blue Carnival Glass often has a stretchy appearance. This is caused by re-heating and/or re-shaping after the iridescent spray has been applied. You can see the typical "onion skin" stretch effect on the Grape and Cable bowl (Fenton) below, left. The close up on the right shows it very well indeed.
Not all celeste blue has this stretch effect, some has a shiny or more radium like iridescence, but the ones shown here are all stretchy. All these pieces are rare and were were found in England.
Also, another celeste rarity found in England is a Fenton Flute vase - more about this find here.