Show manager, noted glass expert Duff Allen dies

FALMOUTH, Mass. – Noted early American glass aficionado, Duff S. Allen Jr. died Oct. 20 at the age of 80.

Allen was a student of American glass from his childhood. He was a graduate of John Burroughs School, Princeton University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned a doctorate in organic chemistry. It was his career as a pharmaceutical researcher that would provide the foundation for his quest of knowledge in the field of 19th century American glass.

When Allen was just 10 years old, he came across a copy of Ruth Webb Lee’s seminal 1939 volume, Sandwich Glass.  After reading the tome cover to cover, Allen presented a report on antique glass to his grade school class, but it wasn’t until many years later, in 1981, that he remembered the book and the glass that inspired it.  That year Allen and his wife, Molly, attended a local antiques show and purchased their first piece of antique glass. That initial purchase sparked a passionate interest in early American glass that would happily occupy the Allens for the next three decades. 

Shortly after acquiring that first object, the Allens became active members of the Westchester Glass Club, and they enthusiastically agreed to manage the club’s annual show and sale. As co-managers for the next ten years, they were instrumental in building the annual event into what was arguably the top early American glass show in the country.

After retiring and moving to Cape Cod in 1991, the Allens joined with Joan Kaiser and several others to form the Cape Cod Glass Club, and up until 2005, Allen co-managed the club’s annual Sandwich, Mass., show with Douglas Reed. Allen also served on the boards of the National Early American Glass Club, the Westchester Glass Club, and the Sandwich Glass Museum.

In 2006, Allen began to lose his eyesight, and soon could no longer safely handle his beloved glass or perform the historical research that he so dearly loved. After much consideration he decided the time had come to sell his cherished collection.

In late 2008 the Allens sold their collection through Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates. It was the Allen’s desire that the collection they so carefully assembled, now be shared with and enjoyed by a new group of glass lovers. This desire was fulfilled when over 100 different collectors, museums, and dealers from across the United States and Canada were successful bidders at the auction.


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