Question: Among some old papers purchased at a recent yard sale, I found an ornamental document that appears to be the mid-19th century hand-lettered baptismal certificate of a German child. It is in very good condition, protected by a large envelope and decorated with flowers and angels matching those on the document. Thank you for anything you can tell me about this unusual old paper. — M.T., Marmora
Answer: You have described a Fraktur, one of the hand-lettered and illuminated manuscripts and ornamental drawings attributed to the Pennsylvania Germans during the 18th and 19th centuries. True masters of creating Fraktur illuminations, the artists often were educated school masters or clergymen.
Created by using multicolored penmanship and brushwork to make birth and baptism records, marriage certificates, house blessings, broadsides and bookplates, among other Fraktur subjects, the art flourished in a multitude of folk designs including flowers, birds, hearts and angels.
Pennsylvania paper makers produced superior handmade papers for these records. Calligraphic creations are coveted by dedicated antiquers. Preprinted Frakturs came into widespread use and popularity during the mid-1800s.
If you would like a personal, professional appraisal of your piece, you can contact Joe Hughes, longtime owner of the Cobweb Corner antique shop at Sixth Avenue and White Horse Pike in Galloway Township. Joe can be reached at 609-748-2522.
Question: I am curious about some fancy old brown glassware left for me in a house I bought last year. The seller, who told me she received it as a gift many years ago, expressed her personal dislike for brown glass and was delighted at my interest in what she called “Rosenthal chocolate glass.” I am particularly interested in an old-fashioned covered dish on three feet and hope you can provide some information. — K.B., Burlington
Answer: Often described as “Greentown Glass,” items made by the Indiana Tumbler and Goblet Co. appeal to folks who collect colored glass made in the 1800s and early 1900s.
The company, founded in 1894 at Greentown, Indiana, produced its first clear glass table and barware that year. By 1895, the plant’s size had doubled, and in 1899 it joined the National Glass Co.
During 1900, owner Jacob Rosenthal developed an opaque brown glass known as “Chocolate.” Its shades range from a dark chocolate color to a lighter coffee-with-cream shade. Later, when the company was financially hard- pressed, production of the popular chocolate glass rescued it. In 1908, National Glass bought Rosenthal’s chocolate glass formula.
Popular old-fashioned chocolate covered butter dish patterns include Cactus, Leaf Basket, Austrian, Dewey, Shutters, Teardrop and Tassel.
When a fire destroyed the Indiana Tumbler and Goblet Co., all work ceased. Later, the chocolate glass was produced by McKee and Brothers in the same patterns originally used.
Recent prices paid for an Indiana Glass chocolate glass covered butter dish like yours ranged from $30 to 75, based on condition.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Living section, The Press of Atlantic City, 1000 W. Washington Ave., Pleasantville, NJ 08232. Email: treasuresby email@example.com. Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.