Most people don’t think about American history when they think about glass, but the featured speaker at the 2017 Houston Museum’s Antiques Show & Sale says that glass production made Pittsburgh the national center of the glass industry, as well as one of the nation’s first gateways to the West. And those westward travelers transported Pittsburgh glass – both industrial and art forms – as they made their trek across the country.
“In fact, at one time, Pennsylvania produced more than 40 percent of the entire nation’s glass supply, with the first two factories opening in 1797,” said Anne Madarasz, director of the curatorial division and chief historian and director of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Penn. “With more than 200 years of production in the region, it’s very easy to see the interplay between the glass objects and the larger context of history.”
Visitors have an opportunity to meet Ms. Madarasz at the Houston Museum’s most popular fundraiser, which is scheduled Feb. 24-26 at Stratton Hall, 3146 Broad St. Admission is $10. Both professional and novice antiques collectors from all over the region flock to Chattanooga each February to shop at and hear from glass experts. For lecture times from Ms. Madarasz, please visit www.thehoustonmuseum.org.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear from a nationally recognized speaker and historian with expertise in Pennsylvania glass making,” said Amy Autenreith, Houston Museum executive director. “Pennsylvania was the hotspot for first adapting coal and natural gas for fuel, leading to the innovation in manufacturing, design and marketing of glass.”
“You also see the development of pressing of glass on a mass consumer scale in the 1830s and 40s that really changed the customer for glass in America that lead to its ubiquity,” Ms. Madarasz added.
She also will conduct limited periods of glass identification for attendees who bring pieces with them to the show and sale. (Note: This does not include valuation of items, and attendees must purchase a ticket to enter.)
Unlike pottery and silver, glass is a challenge to identify because it is rarely marked, said Ms. Madarasz.
“Learning about glass is like learning a new language; It takes hard work to be fluent,” she added. “I look for clues into how each piece is made – its color and design help me research it to find out who made it and when.”
There are several ways to create glass: Handmade blown glass, pressed glass (which is the first machine technology) and automated machine-made glass.
“Some of the extraordinary blown and cut art pieces in the Houston’s collection have inspired pattern glass for a mass market,” Ms. Madarasz said. “The collection is impressive. I’m looking forward to seeing it for myself and learning from it.”
The lecture draws in many visitors, Ms. Autenreith said, but most attendees come to the show and sale to shop at the dozens of richly adorned booths from some of the country’s top antiques dealers and specialists. Attendees will find everything from pottery to furniture, books and maps to china and silver, linens, blown glass and many other artistic creations.
Tindell’s Restoration also will be on hand at this year’s show. Frequently featured on HGTV, Tindell’s Restoration Nashville-area team will perform repairs to glass and ceramics onsite and also take items back to their offices to work on them there. Glass and ceramics are only a portion of what they repair; they also repair metal, sculptures and paintings.
“Tindell’s is a very popular feature at the show & sale,” said Ms. Autenreith. “In most cases, they can repair your damaged stemware while you shop, in addition to other items. DiAnna Tindell strives to continue her research and development with visits to well-known places to acquire additional first hand training regarding state-of-the-art-processing techniques, equipment, and materials in all mediums of restoration."
Another highlight of the event this year is Tom Wester, a nationally known expert in Tiffany stained glass lamps and windows for more than three decades. He is a third generation art dealer specializing in original works from the Tiffany Studios.
“We are so lucky to get Tom,” Ms. Autenreith added. “Not only does he teach at Emory University, he also specializes in rare, one-of-a-kind items and is a wealth of knowledge about Louis Comfort Tiffany, Tiffany glass, and the studio that created these stunning pieces of decorative art from 1878 through 1933.”
Ms. Madarasz, director of the curatorial division and chief historian since 1992, is a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. She completed the coursework for her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. Awarded a Richards Fellowship for research from the Corning Museum of Glass, Anne lectures and writes frequently on the subject of Pittsburgh glass, regional industry and the history of Pittsburgh sports. Ms. Madarasz has served as the project director and/or curator for five exhibitions that have received the national Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History.
The Houston Museum Antiques Show & Sale benefiting Chattanooga’s Houston Museum will be Friday, Feb. 24, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 25, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 26, from 12-4 p.m. The show and sale kicks off with a preview party that isn’t included in the cost of admission to the show and sale on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $75, which also gives unlimited access to all three days of the show.
The event will be at Stratton Hall, 3146 Broad St. Admission is $10 and covers all three days of the show and sale.