A brief history of the Westmoreland Glass Company

The Westmoreland Glass Company was founded in 1889, and was based in Graceville, Pennsylvania (which is not too far from Greensburg, Pennsylvania).  The company was run by brothers George and Charles West, which were the majority shareholders of the company.

When the company opened, the main production was pressed glass tableware lines, mustard jars, and even candy containers.

The brothers ran the company until 1921, when George West went on to run his own company.

The company was then run by Charles West and his close friend Ira Brainard.  When this happened, the name of the company changed from Westmoreland Specialty Company to Westmoreland Glass Company.  Shortly after the change, Westmoreland started to produce cut glass and even high-quality hand decorated glass.

The 1940’s saw James H. Brainard (Ira’s relative) take over ownership of the company.  At this time, they went with mass produced milk glass and discontinued the hand decorated glass.

The company eventually went out of business in 1984, and the building was apparently converted into a storage facility.

There’s a very wide range of glassware that Westmoreland produced over the many years they were in business.  This can be very helpful for a collector that’s on a very strict budget, and they can find something to decorate with or collect for not much money.

What kinds of Westmoreland pieces that you have found that you treasure?

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The green flag is about to drop on the Indianapolis 500. . . from 1972?!?

The Indianapolis 500 race (also known as the Indy 500) is a race that’s held every year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and it’s been held there since 1911.

The photo-finishes, drinking the milk in victory lane and even the fabled yard of bricks at the start-finish line are just some of the things that you think of when it comes to this race.

One of the years that is memorable for this race is 1972.  Several important things happened during 1972, and this is the first year that Jim Nabors was invited to sing the pre-race song “Back Home Again In Indiana.”  It was the start of a 36-year tradition for Jim Nabors performed nearly every year from 1972 to 2014.

The second thing that happened in 1972 is that this is the first year that the cars were allowed to use bolt on wings.  This helped the speeds climb drastically—Bobby Unser won the pole with a remarkable 195 mph, and the average race speed was 162 mph (that speed would stand until 1984).

The 1972 race was also the first year where the Electro-PACER light system was used during the caution laps at Indy.  The officials at the speedway also did not use the pace car during the cautions, and this enforcement tool was used at Indy for 7 years (there were some controversies with the system in the years to come).

There are also many collectibles for the race, and one of them is this souvenir tumbler by Libbey Glass.

The Libbey Glass Company made this terrific souvenir glass celebrating the 1972 race. The glass features a blue race car scene on the front with a yellow 1972 at the top, and the back even has all of the race winners from 1911 to 1971 in blue.

You can see this great tumbler in my Etsy shop here, head on over and check it out!

What a great gift for a fan of the race!

What exactly is a Capped Bust Coin series from the United States?

When it comes to the designs on United States coins, there are many different designs.  There are the Seated liberty coins and even the Barber coins series.  There are also coins that feature presidents, eagles, and roman numerals—there’s enough to make your head spin!

One of these designs is the Capped Bust series.  There’s one question that comes to mind about this design—what exactly is it?

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.com

John Reich designed the capped-head concept of Liberty, and it was modified by the United States Chief Engraver of the Mint, William Kneass.

The design proved to be a popular one—it lasted several years on the circulating coins.  The half dollar ran from 1807 to 1839, the quarter’s design ran from 1815 to 1838, the dime ran from 1809 to 1837, and the half dime ran 1829 to 1837.

There was a capped bust design on the gold coins, and it is more popularly known as the “Turban Head”.  This name was because it had an unusual and exotic appearance, and this design ran from 1795 to 1834.

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.com

The Capped Bust coin series is still very popular today with coin collectors, and this is but one of the designs that you will run across.  What designs have you seen?

What are some things to remember to help pick out a vintage item instead of a reproduction?

We have all been there before at some point—you find an item that you are looking for, and it has a price that you can afford.  The only problem is is that it’s a reproduction.  What are some tips that you can use to help you identify a real item instead a reproduction?

The first thing to remember is that age and wear can be faked.  One example is that linens can be soaked in coffee or tea to age them.  Another is that furniture can have wear added to it by hitting it with a heavy item over and over (like a chain) or using a sander to help add wear.

There are also times when reproduction Depression glass will have a different color than the real deal—I have seen reproduction pink have a kind of orange hue to it and a reproduction green that is too light.  I have also seen a pattern made in a color that it was ever issued originally (like the pattern ADAM by Jeanette Glass in Forest Green).

The Second thing to remember is to look at your surroundings and ask yourself a couple of questions.  Is there a large amount of the same item in one booth?  Is there plenty of the same item throughout the place you are shopping?  Is the item that you are looking for that is rare suddenly become plentiful?  All of these questions will help aid you in determining if the item you are interested in is the real deal.

The third thing to remember is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible.  One thing to do is to read as many reference guides as possible.  Another is to look at auction catalogs if possible—I have seen some tell a brief description on what makes the item for sale the real deal.  I also have seen vintage ads for items that I am interested in (this helps me determine a real item from a reproduction because the company used a photo of the item in the ad so I could compare the ad to the item).

This is just a couple of things to remember when I am trying to pick out the reproduction.  What tricks or tips have you heard of?

How do you start a collection?

When it comes to collecting, there are so many areas to start a collection in.  It could be baseball items, Roseville pottery, Fenton art glass or even stamps.  There are so many that it can literally make your head spin completely off.

Not only that, it can also be pretty daunting when you are new to the vintage and collectibles market.  What are some things to remember when you start out?

The first thing to consider is you need to decide what you want to collect. You might want to consider what your interests are weather it be coins, advertising items, glassware or even pottery.

The second thing to do is to do some research for your collection.  Before you buy the first piece, you need to know what to look for—when it was made, what it was made from and if there are reproductions are a good starting place.

While looking this up, look to see what the pieces you are interested in are selling for.  This will help give you a good idea on what to pay when you run across an item for your collection.

The third thing to do is to focus your collection.  Once you’ve made your choice, you need to narrow it down to the best that you can find.

Also, you need to remember to be patient!  When you are collecting, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.  You don’t need to rush out and buy all the pieces you can find.  Instead, slow down and enjoy the journey.

This is just some of the things to keep in mind when you start a collection.  What tips did you run across when you started a collection?

Vintage furniture pieces that can still be found being made today

There are designs of vintage furniture pieces that are still being made today.  I know this might sound weird, but it could be that the item is an extremely popular form or that it has found a new use.  Here are some of the designs that you might find:

Tuffet—this is a piece of furniture that’s used as a footstool or even as a low seat. It can be distinguished from a stool in that it is completely covered in cloth so that no legs are visible.  It is essentially a large hard cushion that could have been made with an internal wooden frame for rigidity.

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Cheval mirror—this is a large full-length mirror that is usually standing on the floor on its own.

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Writing desk—this acts as a kind of compact office. Traditionally, a writing desk is for writing letters by hand. It usually has a top that folds to hide current work (it also makes the room containing it look tidy).  The closing top may contain several joints so that it can roll closed or even fold closed.  They often have small drawers that are called “pigeon holes”.  Modern writing desks are designed for laptop computers (they are typically too small for most desktop computers or a printer).

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.com

This is only a few of the pieces that you will run across.  What other kinds have you run across?

5 things that you DON’T want to do at an auction

Attending an auction for the first time can be intimidating—there are so many things to remember it can make your head spin.  What are 5 things that you DON’T want to do when you attend an auction?

Don’t raise your hands in the air if you’re not bidding.  It might seem silly, but an ill-timed hand gesture (like waving at a friend or a family member) just might land you a bid on an item—especially if you are in the front row.

Bidding on an item when you don’t have a bidder’s number.  There will be times when you are running late to an auction—make sure that you stop and get a bidder’s number first (this number will let the auction company who is buying the item).  When it comes to bidding on (and eventually winning) an item, this can be rude because the auctioneer must stop and figure out what number you can use.

Don’t hide items from other bidders.  This could be taking items out of one lot and tucking them into another or an item off a table and putting it in a box lot that you plan to bid on.  This not only throws off the crowd on where the item is, and it also potentially throws off a lot number that is assigned to a lot that corresponds to an estate or consignment.

Don’t bid on an item if you don’t want it.  Everyone is at the auction to get a good deal on an item they want.  The only thing that can happen with driving up the price on an item is that this makes people at the sale mad at you.

Stealing is not a good idea.  It does not matter if it is from the auction or the person that just bought it—stealing can get you into a world of trouble. This is only 5 things that you do not want to do at an auction.

What are some of the other things that you don’t do at an auction?

A brief history of the 1883 Racketeer Nickel

The Liberty Head nickel is a 5-cent coin that was produced by the United States mint starting in 1883 until it was replaced by the Buffalo nickel starting in 1913.  It has a simple design with the portrait of Liberty wearing a coronet and wreath on the obverse while the reverse has the Roman Numeral V surrounded by a wreath on the reverse.

No Cent variety courtesy of Wikipedia.com

In 1883, the coin had a word missing from its design—the word CENTS (it only had the V on the obverse designating the denomination of the coin).  Another problem that this coin had was that close in size to the $5 gold piece.  To top it off, the two coins had a similar design as well.

With Cents variety courtesy of Wikipedia.com

The racketeer nickel came about soon after the U.S. mint issued the Liberty nickel in 1883.  What happened was this nickel got a gold plating on it to make it look like the $5 gold piece even more.

5 Dollar gold coin courtesy of Wikipedia.com

There are stories about the gold-plated coin being pawned off as the legitimate $5 gold piece at stores or even poker games.

There is even a story of a man named Josh Tatum.  One version states that he could not speak, and I have even heard that he was deaf and could not speak.  In the story, Josh would walk into a store and get a 5-cent cigar.  He then would pay with the gold-plated coin and get $4.95 back in change.

After doing this a few times, Josh was arrested and tried in a court of law for his actions.  Josh was exonerated since no one heard him speak—they didn’t know if he knew if it was a 5-cent coin or the $5 gold piece.

The United States mint halted the production of the Liberty Head nickels as the design was changed with the addition of the word CENTS on the reverse—the revised nickel was issued on June 26, 1883.

When you run across an 1883 Liberty Head nickel you need to see it has the word CENTS or not.  Out of the two different varieties (one is called WITH CENTS and the other is called WITHOUT CENTS)—the WITH CENTS variety costs a little more. What kinds of stories like the “racketeer nickel” have you heard?

What are some of the different types of marbles that you will run across?

Marbles are a fun area to dive into and collect.  There are plenty of different types of marbles that you can find—cat’s eyes, steelies and even Latticinio core are just a few of what you will find.  Here are some more that you will come across:

Gooseberries – this is an example of a colored glass marble.  Gooseberries have numerous thin white threads of glass that are distributed evenly around the surface of the marble.

gooseberry marble photo ciurtesy of imarbles.com

Sulphides –this type of marble consists of clear glass spheres that have a white or silvery figure suspended in their center.  The figures consist of animals, birds, people, numbers or even letters.

Sulphide marble photo ciurtesy of imarbles.com

Corkscrews—this type of marble was made with 2 or more colors that have a spiral design.  In corkscrews marbles, the spiral design rotates around the marble from one pole to the other, but the design does not meet.

Corkscrew marble photo ciurtesy of imarbles.com

Clouds—this is an End of day marble that came with colored flecks of glass that aren’t stretched.  The flakes look like clouds that are floating over the core.

Cloud marble photo ciurtesy of imarbles.com

This is just a small sample of all of the different types of marbles that you can find.  Which ones have you run across?

What are some glassware serving pieces that you might run across?

When shopping at your favorite flea market, antique mall or thrift store, it will not take long for you to run across a serving piece.  They come in all shapes like platters, punch bowls or even a cup.  Not only that, there are a wide variety of materials that they are made of.

Here are a few of the glassware pieces you might run across when you are out and about:

Berry set—this consists of a large bowl with matching smaller bowls.  They are used for serving items like fruit and some desserts.

Salt, saltcellar—this is a small bowl used at the table to hold salt.  This type of container is also called a “master salt”.

Celery vase—this is a tall and narrow vase that is used on the table to hold celery.

Compote—this is a dish that usually comes with a stem and a base that is used for serving compote (a fruit that is cooked in syrup).  There is a smaller dish that has a similar form used for a serving for one person.

This is only a small handful of what you will run across.  What types of serving pieces have you run across?