Dear Helaine and Joe:
I believe this glass rolling pin may have been made by my grandfather’s brother, Joseph Pote. He was a glassblower around the late 1800’s and lived in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania for awhile. THE PIECE has a hole in one end, which I think was where a cork might be placed. Could you supply some information about it?
Thanks for you help,
C. R., Aiken, SC
Dear C. R.:
The Etruscans are thought to be the first people to have used rolling pins for food preparation. In more modern kitchen rolling pins can be found made of wood, ceramic, marble, stainless steel, copper, aluminum, and silicone – but seldom does a glass rolling pin turn up in a drawer.
When most collectors think of glassware made in Pennsylvania, they think either of the many factories located in the Pittsburgh area, or perhaps the Northwood Glass Company (later Dugan-Diamond) located in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Both of these locations are in the Western part of the state (Indiana, Pennsylvania is a little more central than Pittsburgh), but East Stroudsburg is located in the far Northeastern portion of the state.
We suspect that if Joseph Pote made this piece he did not do so in East Stroudsburg, but probably in Pittsburgh. In Pittsburgh, glass rolling pins were commonly made for kitchen use, but sometimes the workers would make a special example to give as a love token to a mother or sweetheart. Of course, today’s woman when presented with a rolling pin by a man – even a beautiful rolling pin such as the one in today‘s question – might use it as a club. TIMES do change.
Many might describe the decoration on this piece as being in the style of Nailsea, an English glass house located about seven MILES from Bristol. Others might call the decoration “drag loop,” and SOME Englishmen (or women) might say that this piece is “festooned” glassware.
We believe this rolling pin was made in either the 1870’s or 1880’s (it is hard to be more precise without a little more family history), and along with being made as a gift for a loved one, it might also have been made to show the glassblower’s skill. Glass craftsmen often made objects such as glass parade canes and long chains of glass loops to display their skills to the public.
As for the hole in one end of this rolling pin, it was there to allow cold water to be placed inside the barrel of the pin and the end was sealed with a cork as C. R. surmised. This cold water facilitated the dough rolling process by keeping such items as puff pastry cool, and the water gave the rolling pin more heft for pushing OR ROLLING the dough,
In the 19th century, rolling pins could be quite elaborate. Some were painted with images of ships and there were also messages such as “A Present From a Friend,” or “A Present to My Mother From Her Son” with a ship in the center. Glass examples spattered with a variety of colors, several types and colors of Nailsea, and a variety of solid colors that ran the gamut from clear colorless to red, blue, green, and white.
If C. R. can present a reasonable case for this particular rolling pin to have been made at a particular glasshouse in Pennsylvania by her relative, the price of this piece would fall into the $650 range. But without this provenance, the insurance replacement value is in the $300 to $400 range.