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Who is Dorothy Thorpe and What Glassware Can Be Attributed to Her?

Thorpe is best known for her timeless and modern, wide-band sterling overlay glass pieces.

Born in Salt Lake City in 1901, Dorothy Thorpe was a mid-century American artist who designed beautiful glassware and ceramic pieces out of her Los Angeles studio. Like many of her mid-century contemporaries, such as Georges Briard and Fred Press, she was a designer, not a manufacturer, of glassware. She purchased simple blank glassware, mostly crystal, from U.S. and European manufacturers and decorated them with her personal designs. In 1945, Thorpe wrote to a collector that many of her floral motifs, which included eucalyptus, irises, roses and narcissus flowers, were inspired by flora and fauna that surrounded her on trips she took to Hawaii. She created these breathtaking designs by using a sandblasting technique. She was also known for her silver overlay and paint speckled glass pieces which included all types of glassware and punchbowl sets.

While some of Thorpe’s glassware pieces are signed with a large “T” and a smaller “D”, many of her pieces found today do not carry her signature or her original logo sticker on them. Her sandblasted pieces are undeniably Thorpe as most, if not all, have her trademark signature. This is also true of her paint speckled pieces, which include designs in gold fleck and pastel speckled colors. Because of the popularity of television shows like Mad Men, that showcase her popular silver rim roly poly glasses, many attribute any silver rim pieces to Thorpe. However, since Thorpe designed on “blanks”, the only known silver pieces that can be attributed to Thorpe are her timeless and modern, wide-band sterling overlay glass pieces. Silver rim and mercury pieces were quite common in the 1950s and 60s. Many U.S. glassware companies, such as Libbey and Queens Lusterware, produced glassware that was in the style of Thorpe but did not carry Thorpe’s signature. While still beautiful, this glassware typically has smaller bands of silver or mercury on the glass pieces. Faded mercury glassware which “bleeds” into the glass (and derives its name from the color of old mercury thermometers used at the time) is also often attributed to Thorpe but was likely produced by these other glassware companies.

Click here for more examples and available products of Thorpe’s vintage glassware. 

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