Beginning in the 1920s America was swept by a popular craze for antiques. At a time when sprawling cities, radical ideologies and crowds of foreign immigrants seemed to threaten the country's stability, antiques collecting offered Americans a way to celebrate their cultural roots and the triumphs of the Founding Fathers. While doing so they could exercise their intellect, cultivate their taste, flaunt their prosperity and maybe even enjoy some good old-fashioned treasure hunting through the countryside. It was during this period that the words "Sandwich glass" came to acquire an almost magical significance. That significance had nothing whatsoever to do with the sandwich as a popular lunch food.
The Boston & Sandwich Glass Company operated in the seaside town of Sandwich, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, from 1826 until 1888. Company founder Deming Jarves was a romantic, even heroic figure in the minds of early collectors. In the charming setting of glass furnaces nestled among the sand dunes, as they imagined it, Jarves oversaw the manufacture of beautiful, traditional, hand-blown glassware, but also pioneered the new, mechanized process of glass pressing. As such he appealed both to Americans' veneration of their Colonial past and celebration of their progressive, innovative national spirit. Even when they learned that Sandwich was not the only or even the first factory to make pressed glass, the popular mystique of the company remained secure.
Writing the introduction to her 1939 book Sandwich Glass, Ruth Webb Lee summarized the appeal of her subject: "Whoever in these United States has felt the inescapable thrill at the sight of a collection of objects that sing in colors, the glittering marvel of the survival, through the years, of such fragile creations, has perforce heard of Sandwich glass. More books have been written and articles printed, more human-interest stories told - and more misinformation circulated - about the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company than about any other glass factory in the United States, and, perhaps in the world."
During its more than 60 years of operation the company produced a wide variety of glass, ranging from extremely fine blown and cut tableware, chandeliers, banquet lamps and fancy centerpieces to less expensive pressed glass, pharmaceutical goods, telegraph insulators and door knobs. Almost none of this glass was signed. In the absence of easily recognized hallmarks, collectors and dealers frantically scoured the countryside looking for any glass that had a Sandwich "feel." Sandwich was all the rage, and what had been the cheapest article of pressed glass when it was made in the 1830s - perhaps a modest salt dish or tiny plate - might suddenly and inexplicably excite the passions of the rich and famous. Millionaire collectors like Henry Ford were making headlines and shocking the nation as they set auction-hall records in pursuit of "Old Sandwich."
Through the decades that followed, and right up to the present time, collectors and historians have immersed themselves in the enjoyable study of the Sandwich company and its products. Shards dug from the factory site, glass descending in the families of the glassmakers, patents records, contemporary accounts and company records, including a few illustrated trade catalogs from the later years, all strengthen our ability to distinguish Sandwich products from glass made by other companies.
These advances notwithstanding, a piece having a known history of association with the Sandwich company or one of its workers will still excite very special admiration. Such a piece appears to the upper left. It was illustrated in Kenneth M. Wilson's landmark study New England Glass and Glassmaking (Sturbridge, MA: Old Sturbridge Village, 1972, p. 335). More recently it was featured on the cover of the latest book by Raymond E. Barlow and Joan E. Kaiser, A Guide To Sandwich Glass: Cut Ware, a General Assortment and Bottles (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1999). Identified as a cigar holder by the authors, it descended in the family of James Danforth Lloyd, who was responsible for mixing the glass ingredients at the Sandwich factory and developing new colors. This position was critically important to the company. When, following a dispute with the Board of Directors in 1858, Deming Jarves left to establish a rival factory just a few blocks away, he made certain to take Mr. Lloyd with him. The new Cape Cod Glass Works, later incorporated as the Cape Cod Glass Company, operated successfully for a period of ten years. The company's furnaces were extinguished on April 15, 1869, the very day that Jarves passed away at age 78.
NBMOG acquired its cigar holder directly from a Lloyd descendent. Family history records that it was made at the Cape Cod Glass Company about 1865, and its family association is permanently documented by the initial "L" engraved on the side panel. The glass is exceptional for its beautiful color and distinctive cut pattern, but most importantly for its wonderful family connection to James Lloyd and, through Lloyd, to the legendary figure of Deming Jarves.