Artwork Information

  • Title:

    Decanter with Stopper in the New England Pineapple pattern

  • Artist:

    Boston and Sandwich Glass Factory, manufacturer

  • Artist Bio:

    American, 1825–1888

  • Date:

    about 1850–70

  • Medium:


  • Dimensions:

    13 x 5 1/4 inches

  • Credit Line:

    Wichita Art Museum, Gift of George E. Vollmer, Lillian George American Glass Collection

  • Object Number:


  • Display:

    Not Currently on Display

About the Artwork

This handsome pressed glass decanter in pineapple design with matching stopper stands, in its own modest way, at a crossroads of American manufacturing history and declares the ascendancy of democracy in taste and the possession of luxury objects. Glassmaking was the first European industry to be transplanted to the New World. The colonists at Jamestown made a brief attempt at glass production, then in the 18th century Caspar Wistar established a utilitarian glass works in New Jersey in 1739, and Henry William Stiegel opened a glasshouse in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1963. The real revolution occurred in the early 19th century when American makers invented the pressing machine that produced glass more efficiently than mold-blowing and mimicked the decorative effects of elegant cut-glass ware. The Boston and Sandwich Company founded in 1825 by Deming Jarvis ushered in the era of the mass production of glass. The earliest pressed glass surfaces appeared flat with shallow, brittle-looking linear grooves and stippling that tended to give the glass a cloudy look.

However, the next phase of American glassmaking, represented by the decanter and stopper shown here, achieved greater refinement in the pressing techniques and in the aesthetic quality of manufactured glass. Decanter with Stopper boasts thick, liquid-looking grooves that flow in sinuous curving patterns, organic lines that contrast nicely with the more geometric criss-cross design of the prickly pineapple fruit. Fire-polishing techniques rendered the entire surface smooth and glossy so that if reflected the ephemeral effects of light, shadow, and motion when the vessel was in use or when the exterior light changed. Decanter with Stopper exhibits the decorative motif of the pineapple, a subject that had first became popular in the colonial period and was used extensively by architects, artisans, and then manufacturers to ornament homes inside and out as well as domestic goods. The pineapple’s symbolic association with luxury, fine entertaining, and generous hospitality perfectly complements the deep fluid modeling of the vessel’s surface relief.

The growth and innovations that occurred in American glass manufacture during the time period of Decanter with Stopper signaled the bounty of mass produced goods including beautiful luxury objects that would become available to the average citizen in the United States in the 20th century. The Wichita Art Museum collection of American glass encompasses objects from the medium’s humble utilitarian origins to its glamorous conclusion in the studio glass movement.