Willow Glassware Pattern by Duncan

by Joyce Nichols
Volume 26 No. 3 - October 1999

Many might say that this is not a Depression pattern! Right you are, but it is beautiful elegant glass of the depression era and since the depression era patterns are becoming so hard to find, I thought you might enjoy hearing the story of my Willow pattern.

When I was about to be married in early 1952, it was the custom in my town to go to the nearest department store or jewelry store and register your choice for china, silver, and glassware patterns. I knew very little about the niceties of beautiful dining because my mother was an excellent cook and at the table much of the emphasis was placed on the beautiful and tasty food and not a lot of emphasis was placed on colored or fancy dishes. Mother did have some pretty depression dishes, but they were better known as the cake plate or the potato salad bowl than by the pattern name that the manufacturer had put on them. However, being excited about becoming a bride and knowing little about making those beautiful and tasty foods, I decided that I needed pretty dishes and glassware. Also, the society of my town required this.

So, a trip to the department store! There was so much beautiful stemware and I hardly knew where to start. I chose a china pattern. That was easy! I chose a silver pattern that I have never doubted. Then the glassware. Where should I start? I noticed at many patterns and, of course, the prices. I decided on THIS ONE - Willow by Duncan! Each stem sold for $3.00. That is cheap enough! My friends can afford that! So, now I was all set. I would have pretty settings even if I didn't know how to cook.

Imagine my surprise when I went to a show in Houston, Texas, and there on the shelf in a depression glass show was some of MY GLASSWARE! I went to my booth and said to my husband, "We must be getting old, our crystal is in that booth over there saying it is old glass."

Well, I guess we are getting old, but is has been fun to gather more information about the glass that I chose to grace my table when I was absolutely ignorant about the entire scenario of setting up a household.

So, here goes what I have learned about the glassware that I chose as my wedding crystal and finished out to service for twelve by saving S & H Green Stamps in the late fifties and early sixties!

The Duncan Glass story began in 1865 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when George Duncan bought out Ripley and Company. Before this endeavor, George had worked making bar glasses and flint glassware. Mr. Duncan's two sons and his son-in-law, Augustus H. Heisey, joined him in his business. This was a wise decision for Mr. Duncan, because Augustus Heisey became very well known and many early patterns were attributed to him. Mr. Heisey founded his own factory in 1895, which lasted until 1957, in Newark, Ohio. John Ernest Miller was another distinguished member of the crew and was responsible for many of the early Duncan designs.

After years of glass making, the Duncans and Mr Miller established The Duncan & Miller Glass Company in Washington, Pennsylvania in 1893. The first glass was run on February 9, 1893. This status remained until the glass operation was sold to United States Glass Company in Tiffin, Ohio. The company continued to make glass under "Duncan & Miller Division" until the furnace was turned off on August 30, 1955.

Willow pattern stemware by Duncan-Miller Glass Company is a lead Willow goblet blown stemware. A skilled craftsman, a blower, took a blowpipe and with perfect precision blew molten glass into a mold to shape the stemware. Then the goblet had to be annealed so stress and stains could be taken care of, otherwise, your goblet would shatter at the slightest jar. Then the Willow pattern was cut. This pattern was considered as traditional and provincial. This pattern is a simple, not busy pattern. It truly resembles the branches of the pussy willow tree. It has a beautiful clear ring as you touch the cup of the goblet. You can see a photograph of the goblet at right.

The pieces that are available for collectors today are goblets, saucer champagnes or tall sherbets, cocktails, wines, cordials, footed seafood cocktails, footed iced teas, footed fruit juices, 7½" plates and 8½" plates. The price is slightly elevated above the $3.00 that was the cost in 1952. The only pieces that I have are the water goblets, iced teas, and sherbets. Maybe one of these days, I will see some of the plates and add to my wedding crystal. These would also look pretty in the cabinet and on my table for special occasions.

You probably have a wonderful story about one of your collections!! Why don't you share it with your N.D.G.A. friends? Our Editor is always ready for a nice story to publish in the News & Views. Help her out and HAPPY COLLECTING!