In today’s What’s It Worth?, both items we investigate are from about the same time — the second quarter of the 20th century.
We have metal spoons depicting the members of what at one time was Canada’s most famous family.
Also, there is lovely American-made glassware for the table.
Q. My husband’s grandmother (born in the late 1890s) had this pitcher and six glasses her entire life. We have been unable to match it to anything we have seen. It has no apparent markings and is clear pink in color. Can you identify the pattern and/or manufacturer? — Linda in Richland
A. Undoubtedly American made, this pretty glassware set doesn’t match — at least not so far as the intended use is concerned.
The footed “glasses” are actually sherbets, designed for serving desserts such as ice cream or pudding. But, they can certainly be used as drinking glasses, and many people did just that.
The glasses/sherberts and the pitcher are Depression glass patterns. Gene Florence, in his several books on the subject, designates pieces with fancy designs like these as “Elegant Depression Glass.”
There are hundreds of patterns of Depression glass and they were made by many companies. As the name implies, this type of glassware was popular in American homes during the 1930s. Most patterns were affordable and some glass was even given away as premiums at movie theaters.
That’s your regular Depression glass. Elegant Depression glass is another story altogether. One of the challenges in telling that story is trying to answer Linda’s question about maker and pattern.
Only the top companies made the top grade of this glassware. We think of names such as Cambridge, Fostoria, Duncan & Miller and Heisey. Only Heisey marked their glass.
The pattern — in this case the lovely floral design — was either acid-etched on to the glass or cut, by hand, with a spinning copper brush on a wheel.
Our best guess to identity is, well, we simply don’t have a “best guess.”
This is not a new conundrum for us. We inherited my mom’s set of similar glassware. As close as we’ve come to an identification is that ours was “probably” made by the Fostoria Glass Company of Ohio sometime in the 1920s or 1930s.
Lack of exact identification doesn’t have much impact on value; there is quite a bit of this glass out there that people have not been able to pin down with a pattern name or company.
At a show or in a shop, we’d expect to see a price between $75 and $125.
Q. I have a set of Dionne quintuplet spoons that belonged to my mother. Do you know what they might be worth? — Susan in Pasco
A. This is a long, sad story. The identical Dionne Quintuplets — Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Emile and Marie — were born in rural Ontario, Canada, on May 28, 1934.
Multiple births were exceedingly rare back then, and these babies were two months premature. All survived to become sensational international curiosities.
After only four months with their family, the girls were made wards of the king for the next nine years. The government, which made the move allegedly to protect them from exploitation, soon began to profit by turning the Dionne girls into a major tourist attraction.
“Quintland,” a nine-room nursery/ hospital staffed by doctors, nurses, nannies, housekeepers and police guards, was built across the road from their family home.
Their compound was surrounded by a high barbed wire fence. The girls came to the playground several times each day. And the curious were charged to watch them. Daily, six thousand people came to the observation gallery. Over their years at Quintland, 3 million people paid to see them.
Their images and names were used to promote products ranging from Karo syrup to toothpaste, condensed milk and Quaker Oats.
This set of spoons was just one of the many souvenir items available in Canada and the United States.
In 1943, the family won back custody of the girls.
In 1998, the then-surviving three sisters reached a $2.8 million settlement with the government of Ontario as compensation for their childhood exploitation. Only two of the sisters — Annette and Cécile — are alive today.
With millions of visitors, there were millions of Dionne souvenirs. This set of spoons is worth about $40.