The Divided Diamond of New England
“Is the Smocking”: “Another early design in early flint glass seldom seen outside of New England is the Smocking”. This is Ruth Webb Lee in her SANDWICH GLASS, Lee Publications, Wellesley Hill, Mass, 1966, page 510.
Yes... I say. Just look that over again noticing the phrase ‘is the Smocking’, the capitalization of the S of Smocking, the ‘seldom seen outside of New England’ and....
The ‘she is queen’ Ruth Webb Lee... is... publishing, didn’t she, “there” (Wellesley Hills). She is queen of what? EAPG (Early American Pressed Glass).
She continues with another sentence: “The footed pieces in the Smocking are all scalloped, which is an indication of its early age, for scalloped feet are seldom seen in pressed glass though frequently on blown (New England glassware)”. Her middle sentence, dividing the two quoted, is “The goblet is particularly scarce”. One may bank that insight.
Lee does not include or mention “Smocking” in her EARLY AMERICAN PRESSED GLASS book (Northboro, Mass, 1946). That is right: She does not. Remarkable... actually?
Actually not: It (‘the Smocking’ glassware) is... too... early?
She does include it in her VICTORIAN GLASS. Page 69 and Plate 25 (Northboro, Mass, 1946). Skimpy treatment there but I notice a ‘she says’; “appears to be of only New England ancestry”.
In the plate she illustrated ‘the sugar’.
That’s the way I was with it (“is the Smocking”) for twenty-five years; from when I was born and then raised in old New England decorative arts... found in old New England homes. A quarter century of being born and raised. Yes... didn’t I just... “found” those... old glass sugar bowls that “is the Smocking”.
Yes: Didn’t I just.
I remember very long ago... being in an old, old house and... it (the sugar bowl) is... there... very clearly old glassware to even... well... I DO suppose one needs a “SHOW ME”... but not too much of one: It IS old... especially when there is ‘nothing else around’ ‘like it’. So I found that... there... that day: A sugar bowl that “is the Smocking”.
I had it home. And looked at it. A little beat up... from actual usage. They all are; always are. Make note of that. Then I set it to sell. No one ever asked. To buy.
After it had ‘set’ for so long that I had found another one ‘too’; they then ‘set’ together... I “gave up” (trying to sell them) and “put them away”. They were both WONDERFUL early American glassware; ‘obviously old’ flint glass bell tone ring. Etcetera. So I didn’t just and ... I didn’t know... or care to know... the “is the Smocking”
No. I just ‘put them away’.
Soon... I found a third... sugar bowl... that ‘is the Smocking’ in... another... old New England home. I really had quite a collection of... something that nobody buys and nobody knows about. Forty-five years later... I’ve found ‘a hundred’ of them? No. Certainly twenty-five. Certainly thirty-five. Probably forty-five... if I include the odd lids and odd bottoms... too. “Certainly forty-five.” I say.
They are all the same too. They all look alike. They are all “always” beat up. From actual usage. Many still have sugar in them. The sugar is protected ‘under the glass’ (lid). White sugar mostly. Brown sugar sometimes. That’s older. Of course you know that. Hardened. All of it. I used to clean the sugar out. Now I never touch it. The old sugar stuck in the old New England glassware sugar bowl... is beautiful... to my eye. The sugar bowl... “is the Smocking”. To my eye. I know that now. Have for years. I’ve never found them anywhere except in old New England homes.
I found one in an estate in Sherburne, Mass. One in a home on Martha’s Vineyard. TWO (“a pair”) off of Route Seven below Bennington, Vermont. One in Orford, New Hampshire. One in Lisbon, New Hampshire. And in Maine? Certainly several dozen. They are all over the place... in old New England homes. Always popping up. They are. I always get them. No one wants them. No one knows anything about them. I won’t even touch the ‘is the Smocking’.
Yet at the same time... I have the same bad people... so sure that they ‘have’ and ‘know’ “New England”. They don’t. They have never ever even spooned brown sugar from an “ANY” sugar bowl. “Loaf sugar WHAT?”. And that is that:
Where they are at.
It has become obsessively clear to me that these ‘is the Smocking’ sugar bowls were... one of... (your?) great... great... great... (1830-40) grandmother’s (PROBABLY) first ‘tableware’ ‘glassware’ in her home. Peddler peddling “them” (“is the Smocking” sugar bowls) (they are rugged little jewels so traveled well). He did not call them “Smocking”. That is a we-now-us-may. She (g-g-g grandmother) ‘liked it’. That’s it. Then she bartered (for) ‘it’ and insided it and filled it and tabled it and it ... it... it... for, okay... forty years... until her grandchild... ‘put it away’... “after she died”... ‘in the cupboard’ where it stayed undisturbed until I
“Cleaned it out”.
Every one of the bad people are always telling me about the ‘old New England’. They are. And that includes the drapes, the chairs, the china, the shoes, the lawn, the fountain, the horses, the cars, the “Take Ivy”, the “President C-E-O” crap and the “GENE POOL” (DNA). Today... with the ‘is the Smocking’, I speak of old pasture gates beside the barn and the old Maple trees
Along the road
Before the farm.
“I didn’t know that”
“Is the Smocking”
I always pick them (the ‘is the Smocking’ sugar bowls) up when I find them ‘going by’.
George and Helen McKearin notice “Smocking” with a single specimen; pg. 397 for Plate 207, #3, AMERICAN GLASS, Crown, New York, 1941.
Sometimes Smocking is called ‘Divided Diamond’ but ‘Smocking’ is ‘old school’
New England. So what.
If I hate you and love the sugar bowl... does that make sense to you. No it doesn’t does it. Mr. and Mrs. Commercial Lie. The middle name is New England: Mr. and Mrs. Commercial New England Lie. That is a gene pool.
The commercial lie. There is no commercial antiquarian market at all for an old smocking sugar bowl. I have never had anyone ever speak to me (“inquire”) about the glass sugar bowl, the New England glassware sugar bowls or an ‘is the Smocking’ sugar bowl. I have ‘offered’ (had for sale) ‘is the Smocking’ sugar bowl(s) for fifty years and no one has ever purchased one. Looked at one. Picked one up. “Inquired”. Shown any knowledge of. Or. Even acknowledged that any ‘is the Smocking’ sugar bowl is ‘even there’.
Collectors ignore; “too common”. At the least? Or at the best? Thrift shops put a dollar on the lid and a dollar on the bottom. Often times they are two isles apart. I have helped numerous ‘get back together’. They were nearly separated by ignorance (idiots) after at least one hundred and fifty years together. “Nice of you to do that”
From the empires and islands of vanity of the new New England. The island is the box store. The empire is the parking lot. You have such good taste. I hate you and
Love the sugar bowl.
What if I was in an... old New England home and... they said... they are “keeping that” and continued by saying “it is a New England glassware sugar bowl. It’s pattern...
“Is the Smocking”.
“It is”, continuing, “one of the... if not the... earliest pressed glass sugar bowls ever made. It was designed and created... molded and manufactured... in New England. The first and only place in the world to do this”... with this... ‘is the Smocking’ ...glass ...sugar... bowl. “It was made no where else. Ever. It is beautiful and we love it. We have used it in our family for one hundred and seventy-five years.”
What if they said that?
I would be startled and very curious to know how much deeper their cultural sense of heritage and history of old New England is: “If they know that”...
“What else do they know?”