I was talking to Tom Haunton the other day. He said his book
is near completion. I sure it will be a valuable reference tool
to all collectors of bottles and glass. It sounds like it's going
to be packed with important information. I am looking forward
to buying a copy. Greg
I write to you to announce the publication and availability of the first book of a two-volume work I am writing about South Jersey glass. Last Links to the Past - 20th Century South Jersey Glass is a unique combination of history book, manufacturing process picture book, and detailed production catalog of one of New Jerseyâ€™s best known but rapidly disappearing products, hand-blown glass.
LLTTP Volume 1 tells the story of the Clevenger brothers of Clayton, at one time the operators of the last â€œgreen-systemâ€ glass factory in New Jersey. The men and women who worked at Clevengerâ€™s manufactured glass in the â€œSouth Jersey Tradition,â€ using methods quite literally passed on to them by 19th century glassworkers. If they had folded along with the many other glass companies that closed shortly after World War II, I believe itâ€™s fair to say that many of the businesses that followed in their footsteps may never have existed. Without Clevenger Brothers, the â€œSouth Jersey Traditionâ€ of glassmaking could very well have come to an end decades ago.
Last Links to the Past details the Clevenger glassmaking processes through a series of photographs, most of them published for the very first time. Presented here are the methods of making both free-blown and mold-blown glass, how to attach a handle and make the whimsical lily leaf, and how pressed glass pieces and glass weights were made. Short biographies of over 130 known Clevenger employees are also offered (These bios can range from a sentence to a long paragraph.), along with Clevenger glass formulas, production catalogs and advertisements, and photos of some of the molds and tools used to make the glass. A chapter of anecdotes and trivia covers some humorous and interesting information about the Clevengers and their employees that doesnâ€™t quite fit into the other chapters. Over its 438 pages, Last Links to the Past includes 829 photographs and documents; 686 in color/sepia and 143 in black and white.
The star of this book, of course, is the glass itself. The vast bulk of what was produced in the Clevenger factory over a period of seventy years is documented, including the commemorative pieces from the years of James Travis ownership, complete with a never-before-published list of over a thousand different pieces of Clevenger commemorative glass. Each of the 200+ regular production pieces and historical flasks are listed individually with a photograph, measurements, identification details, and other interesting information. An additional 100+ non-catalog pieces are presented in the same fashion. Unique whimsical pieces, rarities, and oddities are also displayed, most produced by Clevenger Brothers employees after hours or while on break. Private mold pieces and special orders are also represented here.
One of the more important aspects of Last Links to the Past is documentation of the facts presented. Twenty-four years of research provided especially fertile ground for this work and the second volume to come, through inspection of hundreds of documents found in museums and other institutions, scores of interviews, correspondence with Clevenger family, employees, and friends, examination of thousands of pieces of Clevenger glass, as well as the many printed catalogs (some with only one surviving copy) that provide so much precise information of what was made. The six hundred endnotes supply the reader with specific reference to the origins of source materials, should a reader wish to further investigate some materials on their own. I also provide a â€œRarity Indexâ€ to describe what pieces are rare, what is fairly common, and everything in between. This index takes into account the rarity of shapes, designs, and color as noted by the author over his twenty-eight years of collecting Clevenger glass.
Readers will be drawn to Last Links to the Past for different reasons; as a New Jersey history book, or as a 20th century South Jersey glass book, for the comprehensive production catalog of the Clevengers and their contemporaries, or perhaps for the details of the hand-blown glass manufacturing processes.
Clevenger Brothers has gained considerable notoriety over the years among the enthusiasts of early South Jersey glass because their glass can blur the boundaries of what a reproduction is supposed to look like. Some pieces are so â€œgoodâ€ it is virtually impossible to tell the â€œrealâ€ from the â€œrepro.â€ Considering that many glassworkers employed at Clevengerâ€™s made â€œoriginal South Jersey Glassâ€ at some of South Jersey's prominent 19th century glasshouses long before the Clevengers went into business, the question ultimately becomes â€œWhere does â€˜originalâ€™ stop and â€˜reproductionâ€™ begin?â€
Some collectors and antique dealers turn a blind eye to anything made after 1850, 1900, or some other arbitrary date, following the belief that nothing of consequence was made after that date. As a result, many are unprepared when they find something spectacular that theyâ€™re afraid to pass up, despite not knowing if that piece may be of more recent manufacture. To quote an antique dealerâ€™s remark to me several years ago; â€œItâ€™s important to keep track of the new knowledge. Would you like your accountant to prepare this yearâ€™s taxes using the tax law from 1913? Donâ€™t you expect them to keep up to date with changes in the tax law?â€
It is my belief that every glass historian, collector, and antique dealer should be aware of what was made at Clevenger Brothers. As the contents of LLTTP will attest, part of the importance of Clevengerâ€™s is that they produced so many forms of glass - free-blown, mold-blown, pressed glass, bottles, historical flasks, whimsies, paperweights, garden balls, commemorative glass â€“ in a multitude of designs and colors.
Last Links to the Past was conceived as a cross-over book that had something for everyone â€“ as I mentioned earlier - a unique combination of history book, manufacturing process picture book, and detailed production catalog about the Clevenger brothers and their glass. As such, this book was deemed too risky by the publishers I approached. The history book publisher didnâ€™t have distribution connections to collectors, and visa-versa for the collector book publishers. As a result, I have taken on the job of self-publishing the book.
For the near future, LLTTP will be available only through me. You may see it for sale on Ebay under my selling â€œhandleâ€ Jerseyana, or at the occasional glass and bottle show in the Northeast. (Coventry, CT in July, Hecklerâ€™s and Keene in October.) Softbound copies sell for $80, and casebound (hardcover) sell for $110. Please add $4 for Media Mail shipping. Massachusetts residents please add 6Â¼ % sales tax. Payment can be via check, money order, or PayPal. For PayPal customers, please contact me by email and Iâ€™ll send you an invoice. Please use my email@example.com address.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at my email address. (firstname.lastname@example.org)