It is a rare occasion when a piece of pressed glass bearing a previously unknown pattern appears on the market. But that is what happened in 2011, and the Museum was fortunate enough to acquire the piece. This oval tray, decorated with roosters, dogs, and birds, came from a private collection that was formed in the 1940s and 1950s.
The oval shape was used for several patterns, some with a stippled background (lacy pressed glass), which were probably made about 1835–1850. Some of these patterns have a butterfly in the center of the plate and were issued in three sizes, the smallest of which matches the newly discovered tray. An unstippled plate in the same shape has a heart in the center and at the ends, and another plate, decorated with acanthus leaves and fleurs-de-lis, was made in both stippled and plain versions. The very playful design on the Museum’s new tray is unlike any other known pattern in pressed glass. Animals are found on some children’s dishes, but they were made at the end of the 19th century and do not match this pattern. The size and shape of the tray suggest that it was a utilitarian object and not a toy. Most of these trays, which were probably used as bread plates, are made of lead glass. While some of them are thought to have been produced by the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company, that attribution is by no means certain.
For additional information on this tray, see Jeffrey S. Evans, “A Most Unexpected Pressed Glass Dish,” The Glass Club Bulletin, no. 220, Autumn/Winter 2011, pp. 15–19.