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The Jack in the Pulpit Vase

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A Style Originating Abroad and Named in the United States
Durand Art Glass Jack in the Pulpit Vase, Ca. 1925

Durand Art Glass Jack in the Pulpit Vase, Ca. 1925

- Photo Courtesy of Morphy Auctions
This type of vase is said to be named after its resemblance to the poisonous jack in the pulpit flower, which grows in woodland areas of North America. While it does often resemble a preacher standing in a pulpit, the glass vase deriving its name from this flower is more stylized and largely represents the shape of its trumpet.

It’s said the term Jack in the Pulpit was first used to describe this type of glass vase around 1900 by Louis Comfort Tiffany, who was greatly influenced by the natural beauty found on his Long Island, New York estate. Tiffany’s studio made a number of these vases in varied colors with beautiful iridescent finishes, and these Favrile pieces are prized by collectors today.

Although Tiffany is purported to have named the style, his studio was not the first to produce this type of vase. In fact, it is believed that the first vases in this style were made in England by Stevens and Williams around 1854, according glass catalog references discovered by glass historian David M. Issitt. Other English glassmakers are also known to have produced Jack in the Pulpit style vases, as well as Czechoslovakian companies, long before Tiffany and other American glass companies made their own versions.

Since then Jack in the Pulpit vases have remained popular, and have never entirely gone out of style. Well-known glassmakers producing versions of this fanciful vase are Steuben, Northwood, Loetz, Moser and Fenton among many others. It’s interesting to note that Fenton originally called their version of this vase “Tulip” and later “Jack in the Pulpit” in its catalogs, according to research done by Issitt.

Jack in the Pulpit vases have been made of all types of both opaque and clear colored glass including cranberry, milk glass, peachblow and uranium glass. Some pieces were decorated with applied glass chains, ropes or ribbons after initially being blown.

One of the best aspects of collecting this type of vase is the variety available in all price ranges. While Tiffany examples are out of reach for most shoppers, other antique examples are far more affordable, especially if they aren’t readily associated with a well-known glasshouse. Newer versions of these vases are still being produced as well, and can many times offer the same styling for far less than an antique example.

About the Example Shown Here: The Jack in the Pulpit vase featured above was made by Durand in the mid-1920s, and marked "Durand 1984-8". It is considered to be a rare example and expected to bring $3,500-6,500 at a decorative arts sale conducted by Morphy Auctions in early November, 2012.

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