Sicilian Vase


Mount Washington Glass Company




Lead glass containing volcanic lava with inlaid enamel glass decoration


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Virginia Carroll Crawford Collection

Accession #


On View

On View - Stent Family Wing, Level 2, Gallery 211

The Mount Washington Glass Company is best known for its artistic glassware from the last two decades of the nineteenth century. In 1878, company manager Frederick S. Shirley patented his distinctive Sicilian line of glassware, likely the first line of colored art glass produced in America. This line was made from lead glass combined with volcanic ash from Mount Etna in Sicily, which gave the product its distinctive black color and linked the collection with Italy and Venetian glass. Shirley’s patented technique for the Sicilian line involved rolling a molten gather of glass through chips of brightly colored glass and enamels, which became inlaid into the surface after the glass was blown into shape and reheated. The variations in each object could not be duplicated or pre-planned, which added to the artistic effect.