Q: We have a vintage fruit compote (at least, that is what we think it is). The metal base is pewter, brass and silver plate. The blue glass is thick and the pictures are hand-painted. The blue glass bowl is 5 inches tall and the diameter is 5½ by 7⅝ inches. Can you tell us the age, maker and value?
A: The old song says "two out of three ain't bad," and we hope that is right because it's about the best we can do.
This is a type of glass American collectors generally call "Mary Gregory." Mary Gregory (1856-1908) was a glass decorator who worked for the Boston & Sandwich Glass Co. of Sandwich, Mass. The most recent report we found states Gregory worked there between 1880 and 1884.
Gregory is most often associated with white enameled images of children in Victorian dress playing in an outdoor setting with hoops, butterfly nets, bubble pipes or fishing rods. The child on the piece in today's question appears to be carrying a torch like an Olympian would.
Sadly, Gregory never did this kind of decoration and focused instead on animals and landscapes. The pieces of glass embellished with the white enamel depictions of children were typically made in Great Britain, Italy and Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) by anonymous artists.
American glassware in the so-called Mary Gregory style was not made until the mid to late 20th century, primarily by the Westmoreland Glass Co. of Grapeville, Pa., and the Fenton Art Glass Co. of Williamstown, W.Va. In our opinion, the piece was made in the early years of the 20th century (say, circa 1910) in one of the Bohemian glassworks.
The pyramidal edges (gilded at one time), the glass' color and the metal mount style all suggest continental Europe in general and Bohemia specifically. It is also our opinion that the stand was at one time completely silver-plated, but use and polishing have worn most of the surface away, except for a small area directly under the bowl where aggressive polishing was difficult.
Mary Gregory-style glass is not in fashion with current collectors, many of whom consider it to be just too precious. But this is an attractive example that is rather unusual and desirable. For insurance purposes, value this metal-mounted fruit compote in the $275 to $350 range.
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques.