The Holy Grail of American Victorian Glass
Arguably, the most rare of all American Victorian Glass prized by collectors today is New England Plated Amberina. In the course of consulting and cataloging literally hundreds of glass collections I would have to say the one item that appears to have eluded the collector is that of Plated Amberina. A perfect example of the scarcity of this genre would be during the2003 Miami Antique Show where out of 1000 booths only Louis St. Albans offered a tumbler priced at $3,000.00.
In the 1990’s when a plated piece came up for auction competition was hard-fought with top collectors battling it out to win the few examples available making it nearly impossible for an average collector to ever land an example of the rare glass for their own collection.
Plated Amberina made its debut in June of 1886 when it was introduced by the New England Glass Company, most likely in response to the popularity of Hobbs Brockunier’s highly successful line “Coral”, known today as Wheeling Peachblow. Today, the two are sometimes confused. Due to Hobbs’ immense success with Peachblow, it is a reasonable assumption that New England would vie for buyers with the introduction of their line, Plated Amberina.
So why is it so rare today?
Two reasons - First, the public did not embrace Plated Amberina and the line simply did not sell well resulting in a short production time and a very limited supply. The second reason is due to the production method use. Plated Amberina has a cased air-trap layer that is inherently prone to breakage, and unfortunately over time many pieces have not survived. Today, you can count on one hand the number of Plated Amberina pieces that may come up for sale in a year.
In its prime, prices were astronomical with tumblers bringing $2,500.00 each, punch cups $2,400.00, cream pitchers $9,000.00, sugar bowls $12,000.00, vases $5,000.00 to $12,000.00, rolled rim bowls $7,000.00, an oval pitcher $10,000.00, cruets $6,000.00, and the holy grail - a bulbous pitcher owned by Maude Feld which sold for $45,000.00. I can’t count the times that I heard a collector say, “I wish I could find a piece of Plated Amberina but at these prices I probably never will”.
This year will bring unprecedented opportunity to those who have not yet been able to acquire a piece of rare Plated Amberina glass. Jaremos in one of two auction houses in the world that will have the honor of selling the collection of the late Jerry Black, a well-known collector of Plated and a great friend. With Jerrys passing last year the world not only lost an exemplary collector but also a wealth of knowledge making this event bittersweet. To quote Jerry, “I am only the custodian of this glass not the owner.” Jerry would be happy to see his glass find a new home with a collector that loves the glass as much as he did.
Jaremos Auction February 20 -21, 2020, will have 13examples of Plated Amberina from the Jerry Black estate along with other Victorian and Art Nouveau glass In addition to items from the collection of Jan Nolan, of Morgantown WV.