Fountain with Marble Base and Fairy Lamps

Object Name: 
Fountain with Marble Base and Fairy Lamps

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Object Name: 
Fountain with Marble Base and Fairy Lamps
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall H: about 67 cm, W: about 53 cm; Base Diam: 30 cm
Not on Display
about 1886-1890
Credit Line: 
Gift in part of John N. Whitenight and Frederick M. LaValley in honor of Peter and Barbara Avrea; Purchased with funds from the Martha J. Herpst Estate
Web Description: 
Joseph Storer, of Hammersmith, London, patented this type of tabletop fountain in 1870. By 1871, he had licensed a French factory and the Boston firm of James W. Tufts & Co. to manufacture such fountains. Tufts also produced soda fountains and druggists’ supplies. The candleholders—glass cups covered with a dome for safety, called “fairy lamps”—were patented by Samuel Clarke in 1885 and used with candles as night lights in a variety of designs. However, Storer, Tufts, and Clarke did not make the glass components. Instead, the glass was purchased from several companies in England and the United States, and possibly also in France or Bohemia. Thomas Webb & Sons was one of the English companies that supplied glass to Clarke. In the United States, it was the Mt. Washington Glass Company as well as other suppliers. Small “parlor” or “table” fountains were used as ornaments in the Victorian parlor and perhaps also as table centerpieces. It was common to have an elaborate lamp or ornamental object of glass or ceramic on the dominant table in the parlor, to show off the household’s good taste and income. Advertisements indicate that perfume could be added to the water to make a fountain even more attractive. This example is unusual because of the two fairy lights added at the sides. Fountains like this, but without fairy lights, were sold by various glassmakers in the United States and England from 1871 until about 1885. This fountain must be slightly later in date because fairy lamps were not made until 1886. Signed: “S. CLARKE / FAIRY.PYRAMID,” pressed on the base of one colorless insert. Unpublished. Related objects are discussed in Jane Shadel Spillman, “Victorian Crystal Table Fountains,” The Magazine Antiques, v. 173, no. 4, April 2008, pp. 124–131; idem, “The Automatic Crystal Fountain,” Annales de l’Association Internationale pour l’Histoire du Verre, v. 16, London, 2003 (Nottingham, 2005), pp. 298–300; and Bob and Pat Ruf, Fairy Lamps: Elegance in Candle Lighting, Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, pp. 9–12 and 234–237.
Whitenight, John N., Source
LaValley, Frederick M., Source
Pressed (g) on base of one colorless insert
Primary Description: 
Fountain with Marble Base and Fairy Lamps. Transparent red glass with gilt, blue, white, and orange enamel decoration, colorless glass, brass, white marble, rubber and metal hardware, candles; blown glass with gilt and enameled decoration, pressed glass, assembled. (a) Fountain with brass hardware, two transparent red glass spheres that hold liquid, and one transparent red dish (b) at top with crimped and gilt rim. Brass structure has two circular arms that each hold a transparent red glass candlecup (e and f) with crimped rim and colorless pressed glass insert (g and h) with zigzag band and scalloped rim. Each cup is topped with a transparent red glass cover (j and k) with rounded top shoulder, waisted neck, and flower-petal gilt rim. Each candlecup insert holds a cylindrical candle with original paper wrapper (k and l). Exterior of red glass decorated with elaborate gilt decoration consisting of trefoil leaves, ferns, and enameled flowers of blue and white.
The Corning Museum of Glass: Notable Acquisitions 2013 (2014) illustrated, p. 40 (#26);
Notes: Corning Museum Adds Major Work to Glass, Library Collections (2014) illustrated, p. 383, #19; BIB# AI100158