Monday, February 25, 2013

Ode to Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., in 1942.  He was just 22 years old when he won the World Heavyweight Championship from Sonny Liston on this day, February 25th, 1964.  Clay embraced the religious affiliation of the Nation of Islam that year and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.  Due to religious reasons he refused conscription into the US Military and the Vietnam War.  He was arrested, had his license suspended and was stripped of his boxing title.  Following a 4 year appeal in the US Supreme Court,  Ali regained the title and has been forever known as 'The Greatest'.  He was involved in several historic boxing matches that are considered among the best in boxing history, with rivals Joe Frazier and George Forman.  Muhammad Ali defeated every top heavyweight in his era!

Muhammad Ali brought beauty and grace to the sport through his unorthodox fighting style and techniques.  He was a character with a personality that charmed and entertained. Diagnosed with Parkinson's Syndrome in 1984 at the age of 42,  Ali has been married 4 times and has 7 daughters and 2 sons.  He makes his home in Scottsdale, AZ. 

To 'float like a butterfly...' A thing of beauty!

Monday, February 18, 2013

I is for Imperial Glass

Imperial Glass Company of Bellaire, Ohio, was founded in 1901 by Edward Muhleman. The original factory manufactured jelly jars, lamp shades and imitation cut glass known as near cut. In 1911 and 1912 Imperial introduced its Nucut and Nuart lines imitating cut glass and Tiffany art glass respectively. Many of its products were distributed through F.W. Woolworth Co. until Imperial took a huge leap producing a type of art glass known as Carnival Glass that out shined its competitors.  Rubigold (also known as Marigold) became its most popular seller until it was discontinued in the late 1920s. Imperial's carnival glass had a higher quality to its iridescence due to the addition of metallic oxides. The company was considered one of the largest glass factories 'under one roof', with its well known Candlewick series catapulting it to popularity from 1936 through 1966. It is also considered one of the fourteen premiere Elegant Glass Companies that existed in the United States from 1920 through the 1950's producing high quality glassware with clear finishes, ground and polished bases, and vibrant colorations. As was the fate of many such American companies at that time, a faltering economy coupled with stiff competition from abroad during the early 1970's brought production to an end.  Imperial Glass became a subsidiary of Lenox until it was sold to investor Robert Stahl before going out of business in 1984.

In the course of its 83 years Imperial Glass Company produced more than 700 decorative pieces of glassware, gracing our homes with patterns such as Lace Edge Katy Blue (1930's), Candlewick (1936-1966), Diamond Point (1875-1925), Beaded Block (1930), Twisted Optic (1927-1930), and Crocheted (1943-1950) to name a few.  Since not all pieces are marked, it can be a challenge to identify authentic pieces of Imperial Glass.  It is what makes the hunt all the more fun!

 Diamond Point Pattern

 Twisted Optic Pattern

 Crocheted Pattern

Lace Edged Katy Blue Pattern

Monday, February 11, 2013

Is You or Is You Ain't... My Valentine?

Before I can say I am, I was.
                                                                                                    - Wallace Stegner, 1909-1993,American Novelist, Pulitizer Prize Winner

Valentine's Day, also known as the Feast of St. Valentine, is observed on the 14th of February each year.  It is the second most celebrated holiday around the world preceded only by New Years Day. 

Valentine's Day was first associated with romantic love during Geoffrey Chaucer's Middle Ages (14th C), replete with demonstrative displays of courtly love.  The 15th C celebrated lovers passion for each other with gifts -  of flowers, candy and personal letters of adoration.  That tradition evolved further during the 1800's with those handwritten notes replaced by mass produced greeting cards.
No need to stress over words... that perfect saying is out there just awaiting that signature of love to your sweetheart.  What's more, ... there's still time left!

What will you give your Valentine?


Monday, February 4, 2013

H is for Haeger Pottery

David H. Haeger came to Chicago, Illinois via Germany, taking over the Dundee Brickyard while experimenting with manufacturing clay products of sophisticated designs and glazes.  Upon David Haeger's death in 1900, his son Edmund took over the company, changing the name to Haeger Potteries and parlaying it into an art pottery company of high caliber.

In 1914, well known ceramicist J. Martin Stangl joined Haeger to transition the  pottery company from plain to spectacular works of art.  Stangl had been employed at Fulper Pottery Company in New Jersey, which had became known for its innovative forms and stunningly rich glazes.  Although Stangl left Haeger to acquire Fulper Pottery in 1919 (which he renamed Stangl Pottery during the 1930's),  his artistic influence remained with the company and was evident in the product designs.  It was the 1934 Chicago World's Fair that exposed Haeger to an international clientele.  Edmund's son-in-law Joseph Estes became President in 1938 and hired designer Royal Hickman, thus creating the Royal Haeger line  which is best known for its distinctive shapes for lamps, figurines, and vases.  

Upon the death of Barbara Haeger Estes the company reevaluated its ability to compete. The flood of inexpensive imports as well as the closing of many mom and pop gift stores took its toll on the business  and 2004 marked the last and 133rd year of production of yet another Made in the USA product.            

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