The Boston and Sandwich Glass Company, founded by Deming Jarves in 1826, flourished in the market for domestic glass tableware in New England and was a leader throughout the country. The company’s early production focused on utilitarian objects, but in the 1840s and 1850s, they began to produce luxury goods and large presentation pieces, such as these compotes.1 Only one other pair is known to exist (Bennington Museum, Vermont), and a limited number of single examples are extant.2

Compotes, decorative objects that could have held fruit or flowers, would have been displayed prominently in a dining room, either on a sideboard or table. The pair’s Gothic elements, the pointed arches separated by vertical openwork, and deep amethyst color were popular at the time they were made. Openwork basket designs, seen in nineteenth century American ware, originate from eighteenth century European porcelain examples.

To create the openwork basket and hexagonal base of these compotes, glass was pressed into two separate complex molds. The basket and base were then fused together with molten glass. Fine cracks, caused by the glass cooling and shrinking during this manufacturing process, are found throughout the compotes’ baskets.3 Michael E. Crane

Adapted from Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 81, nos. 1­–2 (2007): 18–19.


1. See R. W. Lee, Sandwich Glass: The History of the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company (Framingham, Mass., 1939), 97.
2. Ruth Webb Lee, author of the major text on the company, commented about the compote type, stating: “It is a fortunate collector indeed who can add one to his collection, to say nothing of a pair.” Additionally, the pair she described as being a particularly fine shade of deep amethyst are likely these. See Lee 1939, 358, pl. 143. Single examples can be found in the Art Institute of Chicago, Henry Francis duPont Winterthur Museum, Delaware, and the Sandwich Glass Museum, Massachusetts.
3. DIA conservation report, dated 3 March 1997, by J. Steele.
Manufacturer attributed to Boston & Sandwich Glass Company, American, 1826 - 1888
  • Compotes
Date between ca. 1845 and 1870
Medium pressed lead glass
Dimensions Overall: 8 1/16 × 8 1/2 inches (20.5 × 21.6 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Gibbs-Williams Fund, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund, Joseph H. Boyer Memorial Fund, Eleanor Clay Ford Fund, Director's Discretionary Fund; gifts from Mr. and Mrs. Edsel B. Ford, Mrs. Ernest Kanzler, Robert H. Tannahill, Mrs. Rene Muller, Mrs. George Kamperman, Mrs. D. M. Hollingsworth, Mrs. Lewis M. Parrot, Jess Pavey, Mrs. E. B. Gibbs, Mrs. C. L. Williams, Winfield Foundation, Lillian Henkel Haass, Virginia Harriman, Mary Chase Stratton, Mrs. J. Willard Babbit, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Littler, Florence Babbit, Julius Carlebach, E. P. Richardson, Mary F. Stevens, Mrs. Gustavus D. Pope, Mrs. M. L. Hastings, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Ladue, Mrs. Katharine De Mille Campau, Mrs. Charles Willim, Helen Keep, City of Detroit by exchange
Accession Number 1997.9
Department American Art before 1950
Not On View
until 1957, Channing Hare and Mountford Coolidge (Oguinquit, Maine, USA);
1957-1989, public institution;
1989-1997, Hirschl and Adler (New York, New York, USA);
1997-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Lee, Ruth Webb. Sandwich Glass. 1947, p. 397 (pl. 153).

Barrett, Richard Carter. “A Collector’s Handbook of Blown and Pressed Glass.” 1971 (pl. 16cf).

Nelson, Kirk J. A Century of Sandwich Glass from the Collections of the Sandwich Glass Museum. 1992, p. 15 (fig. 21).

Barlow, Raymond E. and Joan E. Kaiser. The Glass Industry in Sandwich. Windham, NH, 1993, p. 145, no. 1126 (ill.).

Palmer, Arlene. Glass in Early America—Selections from the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum. Winterthur, DE, 1993, p. 244, no. 209.

“American Decorative Arts Acquisitions 1985-2005.” Bulletin of the DIA 81, 1-2 (2007): pp. 18-19, 64.