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The Early Days of the Carnival Glass Society (UK)

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Here is an article written by the founders - Raymond Notley and Michel Lerpiniere - about the formation of the Society :-


The Society was formed with the clear intention of devoting itself to the collecting and accurate documentation of Carnival Glass. This remains unchanged. Accuracy means facts and facts cannot be opinions. Hopefully over the past 35 years that the Society has been in existence there has been a clear distinction between opinion and fact. Sad to say many opinions have become fact. However this society remains true to its intention to document accurately the history of the glass that we all collect. In the journal we would also print a great variety of members opinions and information. As the Society has grown then so has the correspondence. So have the collections of members.There is a great diversity of opinion and a dazzling richness within the collections of members. The Society has grown through the pages of the news as well as through its wonderful social gatherings.


Have no fear there is still a long way to go. The accurate documentation of Carnival Glass is a Forth Bridge project. Just when you think you've finished you realise you have to start all over again.


(Written by Ray Notley in the 50th Celebration CGS News)


Raymond Notley

The Early Days


Early information available on Carnival Glass for today's collector, used to the plethora of well researched and documented information published in hard copy and on the Internet, the early 1980s would almost be like 'coming out of the Dark Ages'.  Standard volumes such as Bill Edwards' 'Encyclopaedia of Carnival Glass' did not become available until the late 1980s.  It is hard in 2017 for collectors to fully appreciate the confusion that was rife in those early days.

In America the first collectors' club, dedicated to Carnival Glass was not formed until 1964.  Marion T Hartung started her great work in formalising Carnival Glass collecting and assigning pattern names to individual patterns.  She published her series of ten spiral bound books throughout the 1960s.  At about the same time, Rose Presznick published her four spiral bound books that served a similar purpose.  All of these early catalogues were illustrated by drawings and not the professional photographs that appear in modern day publications.  Sometimes the names given to identical pieces by the authors were in conflict and the drawings, and whilst they are good, could not always truly depict the finished article.


During the late 1970s further confusion was added to the mix when the discovery of glass shards, at the site of the old Dugan and Diamond Glass factory in Indiana Pennsylvania, suggested that many glass patterns, previously attributed elsewhere (by Northwood for example), were in fact made by Dugan and Diamond.


At the same time as our Society was in its infancy the renowned glass researcher, William Heacock, who was to lecture at early CGS meetings, was the editor and publisher of two American magazines 'Glass Collector'  and 'Collecting Glass'.  Each gave a brief mention of Carnival Glass in their contents.  Heacock's series of three colour illustrated books, recording the history of the Fenton factory, started in 1978, were not completed until 1989.


In all of the above, very little was said about modern glass being produced by factories in America or indeed about earlier English, European and Carnival Glass from other countries.  This of course was of little help to United Kingdom owners of their beloved 'Thistle and Thorn', 'Pineapple' and 'Curved Star'!  So there was a lot of confusion.  There was a need for a unified and co-ordinated effort to sort it out.  As one collector, in later years, called her AGM display, 'to provide a little light in the darkness'.


So The Society was formed.  Throughout 1981 a small group of people came across each other regularly in their quest for Carnival Glass.  They soon became friends with a common interest in something that was special to them.  Meeting informally, at such places as the Saturday Portobello Road market, they would discuss latest finds and share news.  They began to dream of a bigger future for their beloved glass.


Writing in the very first Newsletter (January 1983), Michel Lerpiniere the, inaugural Secretary, records :

"Well, what began as a circle of friends in 1981 has now become a "Society" (in June 1982).

Quite frankly, when we met, we talked mostly about glass and the notion of a society was mentioned only occasionally.  However those friendly and warm get-togethers have somehow nurtured the Carnival Glass Society and convinced those responsible, for its inauguration, that friendship through glass, and hopefully through the Society, is really of a very special kind.  We also realised that to ensure that these special relationships continue within the framework of a society, then that society must be organised in a proper and responsible manner.

Carnival Glass is its correct and main concern and, to redress the indignities that have been heaped onto this underestimated and misunderstood glass, the Society must present a dignified and serious face to the world.  True friendliness and shared laughter, and at times, shared tears, lie behind the more serious facade of the Society.

The appointment of Officers of the Society was the first task.  The second was to find other collectors and to ask them if they would like to join the Society.  Somehow the enthusiasts found us!"


Michel Lerpiniere CGS Secretary 1982- 1984.

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