Dear Helaine and Joe:
I am looking for information on a vase I bought that is supposed to have been made by Thomas Webb and is decorated with coralene beading. It is acid-stamped “Webb Patent.” Would you look at the pictures I have enclosed? It is over 10 inches tall and around 6½ inches at its widest. The top is ruffled Burmese as you can see for yourself.
We do not get many inquiries about Victorian art glass, so when we received today’s question, it got our attention right away. We read the letter with some excitement, but as the pictures appeared on our computer screen our reaction quickly went from “oh, boy!” to “oh, no!”
R.S. is completely right about at least one thing. This is indeed a coralene glass vase, meaning that the bulk of the decoration consists of tiny beads affixed to the surface of the glass in such a manner that they do not rub off without a great deal of effort.
The first patent for coralene glass was issued to Arthur Schierholz of Plauen, Thuringia, Germany on July 7, 1883, and called for beads to be applied to a syrupy enamel. Then the piece was heated until the enamel melted, and the beads became permanently affixed to the surface of the glass.
A number of other glass makers adopted this technique, including Thomas Webb of Stourbridge, England, and the Mt. Washington Glass Company of New Bedford, Massachusetts. When the word “patent” is found on a piece of coralene glass, it is often postulated that the word “patent” refers to the Schierholz patent of 1883.
Unfortunately, the mark photographed by R.S. that reads “Webb Patent” appears to be an out-and-out fake and does not resemble any genuine Webb mark reported either by the company or by collectors. Faking such a mark is easy and often encountered. All that is needed is a rubber stamp with the raised wording and some hydrofluoric acid.
One other issue that needs to be addressed is R.S. mentioned a “ruffled Burmese” top, but this is not the case either. Burmese is a heat-shaded glass that shades from a salmon pink to a soft yellow and was first patented by Frederick S. Shirley on Dec. 15, 1885. The ruffled top on the piece belonging to R.S. appears to be a solid raspberry shade that does not resemble true Burmese in any way.
The piece shown here appears to have a clambroth body with a raspberry top created by the “die castaway” method. It was handblown, but the rough, broken pontil scar located on the base is not consistent with the work done by Thomas Webb. Also, the quality of the coralene decoration found on this vase is not up to Webb’s standard.
The piece was probably made in Bohemia (modern day Czech Republic) or perhaps in a glass producing region of Germany. It appears to be circa 1900 and if it is in excellent condition, it should have an insurance replacement value in the $175 to $225 range on the current market.