The Silver Figurehead

by Joseph A. A. Bourque Sr.
Issue 303 - July 1998

Dear Readers,

In this article, I will share a most wonderful Triangle-C find with you. It is item No. 40, a Flower or Fruit Center of the Sea Shell line.

My daughter Darlene, an NCC member, first saw this item depicted in an auction ad of a national weekly antique journal. She thought it would be a good Father's Day surprise gift for me. She requested an auction night phone line but was told they would not be used. She then entered a bid without knowing what the Sea Shell No. 40 was worth.

She was not sure her bid was high enough. So, she decided to forego the surprise element and speak to me about it. When I saw that Cambridge gem in the photo ad, I got a case of triangle-C jitters. (Bear in mind that I had been searching for en outstanding silvered Triangle-C item since the last Convention, knowing that the next one would be our Silver Anniversary.) The nude lady on the front of that bowl was black in color, which appeared to be a black silk-screening decorate, but ... it could also be tarnshed sterling silver, I hoped.

At this point Darlene read my thoughts and volunteered, "She's covered with silver." (See picture) Let me tell you my heart began to beat a little faster. She added, "And both rims are silvered." (See photo below) Those Triangle-C jitters started again. She had a third surprise to add. She said, "There are two silver decorations inside the bowl." (She had gotten all this information from the auction house.) I asked what they were. "Two silver seahorses." she replied. "Fantastic," I said adding, "Sea horses for a Sea Shell bowl." At this stage I had to remind myself that I did not own this centerpiece, and there was a good chance that I never would. I figured that this item was the top silver Sea Shell piece of all the Sea Shell pieces, and would command a very high price.

Flying Lady Sea Shell Bowl She told me the amount of the bid she had left. It was a good bid for it and the fact that the auction ad only referred to it as an Art Deco bowl and made no mention of the word Cambridge gave her a fair chance at it.

On the night of the auction she received the call notifying her that she owned the "Art Deco bowl." In a few days the carton containing the silvered fruit/flower center arrived intact. I finally got to see this item. It is one outstanding silver decorated piece of Coral. The silver has a dark blue-black patina. Thank goodness no one tried to polish it.

[A Few Words of advice on this matter. Never polish or clean silvered glass to make it shine. By doing this, you destroy the age-old patina and eventually the silver wears away or breaks away from the glass. Its good practice not to handle silver overlay glass with bare fingers especially if they are sweaty as perspiration contains salt and certain fluids that will leave an etched print on the silver.]

I got my present early so could have enough time to write this article and share it with you in this July issue of the Crystal Ball. I'll take it to the NCC Convention along with some other items of interest that I have been asked to bring.

This particular 10" centerpiece is listed as being No. 40 of the 3011 line, as No. 40 of the Krystolshell line, and also No. 40 of the Sea Shell line. I only needed to copy one of several listed in the catalogs, because they are all alike. It really does not Sea Shell Plate matter to me which Cambridge line it is. But I would think it to be that of the Sea Shell line because of the pair of Cambridge Seahorse decorations inside the bowl area (See Colors in Cambridge Glass page 125. See also page 57 which lists three Seahorse examples.) I list one of these examples. (See photo at left) Match the known Cambridge decoration with one of the seahorses on the plate. They are identical seahorses.

In closing I would like to comment on this No. 40 Flower or Fruit centerpiece being listed as "The Flying Lady Bowl." See Cambridge Color book index page 127 and Pages 64 and 92. See also page 58 where it states that the flower center is frequently called a "Flying Lady" bowl. I see absolutely no indication that this nude lady is flying. I could understand her being called a Sea Siren or a Sea Goddess or even a Sea Nymph. Each time I see this nude, she reminds me of a sea sailing ship's figureheed. Were I to call her some kind of a lady, it would probably be a Sailing Lady as opposed to a Flying Lady. She's on a Sea Shell line bowl, there are two seahorse decorations inside the bowl, which has the definite shape of a large sea clam, and she definitely resembles a figurehead - a SILVER FIGUREHEAD at that.

Until next time,