The “Comet” pressed glass pattern is well documented as a product of M’Kee Brothers. It is shown in three company catalogs, dating from 1859/1860, 1864, and 1868, but in only two forms (a six-inch nappy and a six-inch sweetmeat). The Museum already had 31 pieces of this pattern of M’Kee glass in a variety of shapes; however, all but one of them are colorless. Indeed, most of the pieces produced in the “Comet” pattern were of colorless glass.
The tumbler is cobalt blue, and the Museum has two other colored pieces in this pattern: a plate in canary yellow (2005.4.11) and a spoon holder in opalescent white (2011.4.91, purchased with the tumbler). Because colored examples of “Comet” glassware are rare, it is likely that the company experimented with the production of such pressed colored glass but manufactured it in limited numbers and never sold it commercially.
This pattern has been attributed to two other companies. The Cape Cod Glass Company listed a “Comet” pattern in 1863, but it is not illustrated in the firm’s advertisement, and may well have looked quite different from M’Kee’s pattern. Fragments of glass that appear to be in the “Comet” pattern have been found at the site of the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company factory in Sandwich, Massachusetts, and this prompted several early researchers of American glass to suggest that the pattern was made there, but we have no other indication of this.
The “Comet” pattern is thought to have been so named because a comet appeared in 1860 (the Great Comet of 1860, C /1860 M1), and that is the name in the M’Kee catalogs. The appearance of a second sizable comet, known as the Swift-Tuttle comet (109P), two years later may have spurred sales of the pattern. Collectors began calling this glassware “Horn of Plenty” in the early 20th century, when it became a collectible item.
Whiskey Tumbler in “Horn of Plenty” or “Comet” Pattern, United States, probably M’Kee Brothers, Pittsburgh, PA, 1860-1870. Pressed. H. 7.8cm, Diam. 6.6cm (2011.4.88, purchased with funds donated by the Martha J. Herpst and Mrs. Jason Westerfield Estates)