Curator to speak at Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum
A representative of one of the region's oldest institutions of glass will soon speak at one of the region's newest facilities for the medium.
Rachel Delphia, the Alan G. and Jane A. Lehman Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, will detail the facility's collection of midwestern glass at the latest installment of the Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum's Speaker Series.
“First it was Corning of New York. Then it was Rick Sebak of WQED. Now it is the Carnegie,” said Cassandra Vivian, president of the museum's board of directors.
The event will take place at 6 p.m. July 17 at the museum.
“This is a great opportunity to bring together people who are enthusiastic about western Pennsylvania glass,” Delphia said.
The Carnegie collection includes a pair of cut and engraved water decanters by Bakewell, Page & Bakewell of Pittsburgh, which most likely come from an immense service ordered by president James Monroe in 1818 and 1819, Delphia said.
“Basically, it's a historical fact that President Monroe, based on a surviving invoice, ordered more than 300 pieces from Bakewell for this service, and the two decanters are the only known surviving decanters from that service,” she said.
The collection also includes a recent gift of Western Pennsylvania glass and examples of early Ohio glass, particularly from Zanesville, from noted Americana dealer Peter Tillou in honor of the late Sen. John Heinz.
“Peter Tillou was a longtime friend of the late senator,” Delphia said.
In addition to that friendship, Delphia said, Tillou's uncle was Eugene R. “Rudy” Eller, a paleontologist who served as a curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, she said.
Eller was also a major dealer in Western Pennsylvania glass.
“So Peter came to this institution as a boy to visit his uncle, and he had very fond recollections of the Carnegie,” Delphia said. “Peter was very excited to give this gift in memory of the senator — a recognition of a long-standing friendship and sympathy with this institution.”
Pittsburgh attorney Harley N. Trice — great, great grandson of James Bryce, founder of Bryce Brothers Glass Co. and a member of the museum's board of directors — facilitated Delphia's talk, he said.
“I know that Cassandra Vivian and Harley Trice have worked very had to build this Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum, and I am excited to come and share about recent developments in the glass collection at the Carnegie,” Delphia said.
Trice said he happened to see the gallery where the glass donated by Tillou in honor of Heinz was on display last fall during the Pittsburgh Carnegie International.
“I thought ‘What better place would there be than the MP museum to really acknowledge this wonderful gift,'” said Trice, adding that Tillou was the recipient of the 2013 Antique Dealer's Association Award of Merit.
“I'm convinced that John Heinz would have been president if he would have lived. He was very remarkable, and he was a long-time patron of Peter Tillou, and it's just wonderful that he wanted to make this donation,” he said.
Vivian encouraged the public to attend the event and to consider becoming a member of the museum organization.
“All we ask is that the people support us. Join the museum, and we will continue to amaze,” she said.
Future series speakers will include:
• Aug. 21 — John Weishar — Island Moulds and the Mt. Pleasant factories
• Sept. 18 — Group discussion by representatives of American Federation of Glass Workers, Union Locals 24 and 597
• Oct. 16 — Anne Madarasz — Mt. Pleasant in the Sen. John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center Collections
• Nov. 20 — Cassandra Vivian — Bryce Barware: From Mt. Pleasant to the World.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.