Antique glass collectors hope Mega Glass Convention will breathe life into fading club rosters

By bringing together seven storied collecting clubs, will new and existing antique glass enthusiasts be willing to share their knowledge and collections?

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Participation in art glass collecting clubs, which foster both fellowship and research into various American glass makers and genres, have declined during the last decade. This fine, 8 1/2 inch tall opalescent vaseline glass fan-shaped vase in the Venetian style sold for $250 in a May 22, 2011 sale by Austin Auction Gallery.The vase, possibly produced by the James Powell & Sons Whitefriars Glassworks, is shown illuminated under a blacklight. Photo courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com and Austin Auction Gallery

OVERLAND PARK, Kans. – Man has been producing glass since about 3500 B.C., and it’s been held in high regard in America since Colonial times. Now, more than 400 years after glass was first produced at the Jamestown settlement in Virginia, collectors will gather in America’s heartland to celebrate this glorious substance. The first Mega Glass Convention will be held July 7-9, 2011 at the Marriott Overland Park Hotel.

“There are dozens of glass clubs, some covering a broad range, others specific. We thought it was time to get together and share information,” said Daniel L. Jensen, president of the Early American Pattern Glass Collectors, one of the seven glass clubs sponsoring the Mega Glass Convention.

Also participating in the inaugural event are the Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club, the National Toothpick Holder Collectors’ Society, the Wave Crest Collectors Club, Vaseline Glass Collectors Inc., Mt. Washington and Pairpoint Glass Society, and the National American Glass Club.

Each organization will conduct its annual meeting at the convention as well as all the various activities that go along with a club’s national convention. The Mega Glass Convention will offer activities and events that will involve the sponsoring clubs, such as seminars, dinners, auctions, antique shows and selling from participants’ hotel rooms.

One of the featured guests will be Jeffrey Evans, a Virginia auctioneer whose specialties include 18th to early 20th century glass.

“Our panel will discuss what to do with a collection, the ultimate dispersal, what to donate to a museum and what to sell,” said Evans, who has conducted live auctions for the Early American Pattern Glass Collectors. “We’ll also be looking into a crystal ball to see where the market is headed.”

The direction of glass collecting has been a concern for many in the trade in recent years. Jay Rogers, an antique dealer from Atlanta, said he has been kicking around the idea of a multi-club glass event for several years.

“We’re all concerned with diminishing glass club memberships,” said Rogers, who is concluding his term on the board of the National Toothpick Holders Collectors’ Society. As coordinator of the Mega Glass Convention he hopes “to capitalize on those who already have an interest” in antique glass. “We want to focus on education, motivation and expanding memberships,” said Rogers.

He said the key to putting a mega convention together was getting enough clubs to switch their annual conventions to a mid-summer date at a central location. The Marriott Overland Park is particularly suited from such an event because it can accommodate many small meetings simultaneously as well as having large halls for dinners and auctions, said Rogers.

Gloria Dobbs of the Early American Pattern Glass Collectors has been instrumental making arrangements with the hotel and convention center, said Rogers. “I don’t know how I could put this event on without her. There’s nothing like having a person with her experience planning events onsite,” he said.

As much as Rogers would like the Mega Glass Convention to be an annual event, he foresees one every two or three years to be a more realistic goal.

“We’ve had a positive response leading up to it, but we’ll have to see how everyone feels in the afterglow,” said Rogers.

Joe Heyman, president of the Mt. Washington and Pairpoint Glass Society, said that while looking forward to participating in the Mega Glass Convention, his organization is already committed to holding their own convention next summer in New Bedford, Mass., the city where Mt. Washington Glass Co. operated.  
  
The Wave Crest Collectors Club, which focuses on glass objects make and decorated by the C.F Monroe Co. of Meriden, Conn., is a relatively small club but will be represented by about three dozen members at the convention, said Jerry Anderson, the WCCC’s co-chair of the event.

“We are unsure how this is going to work out, but our group is excited to be a part of this initial Mega convention. I am excited to see some of the other collections; it may not be something that I would care to collect, but I always appreciate seeing them anyway,” said Anderson.

He noted that the WCCA will have a display case filled with the wares of C.F. Monroe, including Wave Crest, Nakara, Kelva, cut glass and some metal products.

“We will also have an auction with items brought in by members of our group,” said Anderson.

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More Images:

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This pair of large frosted lion-motif Early American Pattern Glass compotes, standing 13 inches high overall and 8 inches wide, with flakes on the bottom exterior edge of bowls, sold for $100 in a Feb. 19, 2011 sale by Central Street Antiques & Auction. Photo courtesy LiveAuctioneers and Central Street Antiques & Auction

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