Friday, October 30, 2015

Portia Smallwood Whitley and the Broken Compote

Three countries in less than a year has taken a toll! Talk about busy! 

I am finally to the point of unpacking boxes.... of which there are many.

While unpacking I ran across a lid to a compote that was given to us years ago by my mother-in-law. She had cancer and before she died she divided up all of the family "silver" in writing, among the children. With each piece she wrote down who got it and the history of the piece if it was known. We were given the compote lid. 

I remember packing the lid, as well as what was once it's match, one with both base and lid, safely away in a box before we left for Europe. 

In the bottom of the box I  unpacked was a note from my Mother-in-law.  
The note said:
The clear glass top belonged to a Cabbage Rose patterned compote, the mate of which sits on our sideboard. there was a pair but Portia Smallwood Whitley (1853-1925) poured hot jelly into one of the dishes, breaking it. The top has been saved in case the other top gets broken or if a second compote is found at an antique store. Since it is a known pattern it does have some value.

Poor Portia Smallwood Whitley! To be remembered for breaking a compote! It must have been traumatic to say the least for the family for this tidbit of information to still be known today.

Years ago I searched for a mate to my lid, that was right after it was given to us. I figured the lid broke before the bottom did due to the design of the handle on the lid. If we were lucky, someday I would find one. I recall even searching the internet, but to no avail.

On a whim I took a break from unpacking boxes and googled Cabbage Rose Compote. Up came this photo below and description from de Young|Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco 
There it is! And such a pretty picture too. You can read about it here. I learned that our compote was made by the Central Glass Company and that it is pressed non-lead glass. It was manufactured in 1870. This fits with Portia's lifetime.

Curious, I searched further on the Central Glass Company.  What I found was that the Central Glass Company was founded in Wheeling West Virginia in 1863. At one time it was one of the largest producers of glass items. These items were shipped world wide. They kept good records. The Cabbage Rose pattern is motif #140 which is how we know it was patterned in 1870. The tall compote with lid is just one of many glass objects that were made using this pattern by the Central Glass Company.

The next search was if there were any out there for sale. This time, right away I found one. I found a wonderful lady with an online antique glass shop named Phyllis Petcoff. She had a short footed compote base, a tall footed compote base and one lid. This fits my theory that the top would break before the base would. 

She was nice enough to sell me the tall footed compote base!

Now for the first time since Portia broke one some time before 1925, we have a beautiful matching set.

Portia Smallwood Whitley (1853-1925) may you rest in peace now (if you weren't already)

Phillis sent me information about  the Early American Pattern Glass Society. I am in the process of reading the contents of the website as there are couple other pieces we were given that I would love to know more about.

I would also like to know where one bought these. Were they expensive? Did you buy them at the local general store or 5 and 10 cent store? So many questions still remain.

Now I just have to figure where I will put them. On the fireplace mantel or maybe in the kitchen above the top of the cabinets. Now, just maybe, I will try my hand at making compote.