It all started with a Chinese porcelain vase. A part of Mary Morgans collection, the so called Peach Blow vase, brought $18,000 at auction on March 8, 1886. The hue of the bottle-shaped vase was described as the color of crushed strawberries, a desirable though difficult color to achieve in porcelain. The fact that the piece was said to have once belonged to a Chinese mandarin made the vase even more famous.
Despite some adverse publicity surrounding the sale of the vase, Peach Blow became the buzzword of the day. Naturally, glass companies wanted to get in on the act. Ironically, the Victorian peachblow glassware so highly sought today is actually a glass reproduction of the porcelain vase! Whether technically a reproduction or not, peachblow glassware is a favorite among glass enthusiasts. Some might even consider it to be the ultimate in quality Victorian art glass.
But peachblow is a confusing term. As novice collectors quickly learn, most people in the field are as confused as they are. This article shall attempt to clear up some of the confusion.
To collectors of Victorian art glass, the term peachblow refers to three distinct types of glass: Wheeling peachblow was the first type to be produced, and was made by Hobbs, Brockunier of Wheeling, WV. Originally called Coral, it shades from a deep, brick red at the top to a golden yellow at the bottom. The photograph on the right is courtesy of Louis O. St. Aubin Jr. of Brookside Antiques.
Wheeling peachblow was produced in many shapes with both glossy and matte finishes, and always has a creamy white lining. Although not called Peach Blow by the manufacturer, Hobbs Coral line was referred to in the trade as peachblow and was well received by the public. Wheeling peachblow is the only one of the three major types to be lined.
Mt. Washington peachblow was originally called Peach Blow or Peach Skin, and shades from rose pink at the top to a blue gray at the bottom.
It was made in both glossy and matte finishes, but was seldom decorated and is never lined. (Photograph courtesy of Louis O. St. Aubin Jr. of Brookside Antiques.)
Mt. Washington peachblow was not nearly as well received as the Hobbs line and was produced only from 1886 to 1888, making it the rarest form of peachblow today.
The vase below on the right is New England peachblow, which shades from rose pink at the top to white at the
bottom. It is also never lined. Like the other types of peachblow,
it was produced in both matte and glossy finishes, though matte finishes predominate. (Photograph courtesy of Louis O. St. Aubin Jr. of Brookside Antiques.)
The company advertised and sold its line under the name Wild Rose, but the factory name for the product was, in fact, Peach Blow.
World's Fair souvenir peachblow, like the piece below, looks like New England peachblow, and it is, in a way. It was made by Mt. Washington for Libbey using the New England formula. Rough pontils distinguish the cheaper souvenir product from the higher quality Wild Rose line. Not all are enameled "World's Fair 1893" like this attractive rose bowl below on the left (photograph courtesy of Stu Horn).
It should also be noted that in the 1950s, Gunderson-Pairpoint reissued several kinds of popular Victorian glassware including peachblow. (I guess that technically makes it a reproduction of a reproduction!) Despite its comparative lack of age, Gunderson peachblow is highly prized by collectors and is thought of as being almost on par with the Victorian types.
Though Gunderson is a successor to the Mt. Washington Glass Co., in my opinion the companys peachblow more closely resembles New England peachblow than Mt. Washington peachblow. Though the rose color found on the top of Gunderson peachblow items is similar in color to that found on Mt. Washington peachblow, the bottom color is more white than blue gray. Gundersons colors are a bit darker and more opaque in appearance than those on original peachblow of any type.
Of course, firms in England and other parts of the world also produced peachblow lines in the 1880s. Thomas Webb & Sons' peachblow, for instance, resembles the Hobbs product, being lined and shading from a deep red to a lighter yellowish apricot. Webb peachblow, also known as Peach Bloom, is a bit more red than Wheeling, which is somewhat orange in comparison. Plus, Webbs glassware is a bit lighter and more translucent than Hobbs peachblow.
Equally important to the discussion of what peachblow is, is a discussion of what peachblow isnt.
Dealers and collectors alike frequently confuse Burmese glass for peachblow. Burmese is an unlined opaque ware shading from rose pink at the top to salmon yellow at the bottom. Unlike peachblow, which varies considerably in color depending on who made it, Burmese glass is always essentially the same color, regardless of the manufacturer.
Of course, only Mt. Washington in America and Thomas Webb in England produced Burmese glass originally, though other companies did attempt to make and sell a similar ware. After Mt. Washington obtained its patent for Burmese glass, Frederick S. Shirley sent several pieces to Queen Victoria in England. It is said she exclaimed the glass reminded her of a Burmese sunset, hence the name. Delighted with the glass, she requested more of it. A year later, Webb obtained a license to produce the glass in England.
The rose bowl on the right is Burmese glass by Thomas Webb and Sons, which shades from rose pink to yellow. Burmese glass is frequently mistaken for peachblow. Photo by the author.
It should be noted that there are several different types of Burmese, but generally, only the most common rose pink to yellow type is confused with peachblow. The Italians reproduced Burmese in the 1960s and early 1970s, creating some pieces with good color, but most with rather washed out colors. Italian Burmese, however, is frequently incorrectly tagged peachblow at malls, shops and shows.
Fenton also produced a Burmese line, starting in 1970. Fentons hues are considerably brighter than any of the originals and the popularity of Fenton glass usually prevents its Burmese from being misrepresented.
Burmese was also among the Victorian art glass types to be reissued by Gunderson-Pairpoint. Gundersons Burmese is of high quality and quite lovely. Unfortunately, it is also often mistaken for peachblow. However, Gundersons Burmese, like all Burmese, shades from salmon pink to golden yellow, a color combination not found in any of the three major types of peachblow.
The combination of pink and yellow can easily leave the impression in ones mind of having seen something peach colored, which may account for the confusion. But remember that peachblow is not necessarily peach colored. If it doesnt match the color schemes found in peachblow by Mt. Washington, Hobbs or New England glass companies, it is certainly not one of the three major Victorian types and is probably not peachblow at all.
I remember once seeing a pink satin glass rose bowl tagged peachblow in a case at an antique mall. Since I was still new to glass collecting, I figured the dealer must be privy to some inside information which I did not have. Now I realize the seller just made a common mistake. Pink satin glass like the bowl on the left is mistaken for peachblow almost as often as Burmese. However, glass lovers need not make that mistake. Pink satin glass is generally lined. The only one of the three major types of peachblow to resemble pink satin glass is New England peachblow, which is never lined. That one detail is small, but significant to the correct identification of peachblow.
The existence of unlined pink satin glass clouds the issue. I do not know the origin or age of the unlined satin glass Ive encountered like the rose bowl on the right, but I believe it may very well have been a reproduction intended to look like peachblow.
When in doubt, look closely at the color. As stated before, the only peachblow to resemble pink satin glass at all is New England, which changes dramatically from pink to white. Most unlined pink satin glass is pretty much all one color. Some unlined pink satin glass will change from pink to white, however. If you look closely at these pieces, youll see that they have just the hint of a white lining. New England peachblow, on the other hand, is the same color both inside and out.
Because the three major types of peachblow are so popular and valuable, peachblow glassware has been reproduced since the 1880s by many companies besides Gunderson. The most notable reproducers are the Italians, who exported copies of most kinds of Italian art glass in the 1960s and early 1970s. Their reproduction of Mt. Washington peachblow is not very good, being considerably darker than the original and a bit drab in appearance. It is also characterized by a band of purple between the blue and pink hues which is not found on the original.
In contrast, Mt. Washington peachblow looks like it was dusted with pink and blue powder, with each color starting at one end and meeting almost imperceptibly in the middle of the piece. In addition to color differences between originals and reproductions, you can spot Italian copies by looking for half-ground pontils, pointed crimping and a gritty feel to the glass.The Italians did a much better job of reproducing peachblow, though they also made some lesser quality reproductions which are easy to spot. But on many Italian copies the color is good and the pontils are polished. The best way to tell the old from the new is to be familiar with the shapes which were made originally.
The photograph on the left is an Italian reproduction of Mt. Washington peachblow.
Most of the high-quality Italian reproductions were not made in the same shapes as were produced 100 years ago.
The one exception is a cruet. Original Wheeling peachblow cruets have a trefoil top, where the copies simply have a rounded top with a spout. Original cruets came with faceted amber glass stoppers, where copies came with blob-style amber stoppers. Be aware, however, that it is easy enough to replace the stopper with one looking more like the original.
The August 1993 issue of Antique & Collectors Reproduction News includes a copy of the original Hobbs catalogs, which collectors can study to learn which shapes were produced originally.
In addition to Hobbs, New England, Mt. Washington glass companies, many firms produced a line they called peachblow. Fenton, for instance, produced a color called Peach Blow which is a cased pink and white glass. It was made in 1939, and then again from 1952-56. So, if a piece of Fenton is tagged Peach Blow, it is being represented truthfully. The collector simply must realize that this does not mean the piece is Victorian peachblow made by Mt. Washington, Hobbs and New England.
Be aware, though, that Fenton pieces can still be mis-labeled. Just because you know it to be Fenton and it is labeled peachblow doesnt mean it is even really Fenton Peach Blow. Many people will attach the name Peach Blow to anything pink or peach-colored.
Confusion can also arise concerning New Martinsvilles Muranese line, which is popularly known as New Martinsville peachblow among collectors today (see Glass Collectors Digest, Oct./Nov. 1994). New Martinsvilles Muranese comes in a variety of rich colors, most of which look a bit peachy. Though this is a lovely line, it is not Victorian peachblow.
Peachblow is a beautiful glass with a fascinating history. Collectors who know not only what peachblow is, but what it isnt will be more satisfied collectors. Thats because they wont have to go through the ordeal of getting their hopes up only to learn what they found is something altogether different.
The rose bowl on the left, even though it is beautiful, is not peachblow because it has a white lining, and as stated before the only peachblow glass to have a white lining was Wheeling peachblow, which was a distinctively different colour from this rose bowl.
*Note: there are many different ways to spell peachblow. For the purposes of this article, I use the spelling "peachblow" unless referring to a manufacturer's original spelling.
Johanna S. Billings
If you are looking for peachblow glass, you can usually find pieces on offer on ebay.
Click here to see peachblow glass currently for sale on ebay.
You could also check out our Recommended Books on Glass.
If you have enjoyed this article, there are some good books which cover Peachblow Glass that you should find very interesting. Click on the bookcovers or the titles to see more information.
1: Hobbs, Bruckunier and Co. Glass: Identification and Value Guide by Neila and Tom Bredehoft, published 1997.
2: Peachblow Glass: Collector's Identification & Price Guide by Sean and Johanna S. Billings, published 2001.
3: Mt. Washington Art Glass Plus Webb Burmese: Identification & Value Guide by Betty B. Sisk, published 2002.
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