Gundersen-Pairpoint "Cubistic Pyramid" Candlesticks (Post 2009, 05-23.1) The Pairpoint Glass Story by George C. Avila, published in 1968, was the first serious study of New Bedford glass for collectors. Although more recent studies have greatly expanded our knowledge of the subject, the Avila book is still quite useful and can still surprise us with generally overlooked tidbits of information. A case in point is provided by Avila's passing reference to the pressed glass "Cubistic Pyramid" candlestick design.
After noting the decline of the Pairpoint Corporation’s glass department in the early 1930s and its sale in 1938 to J. B. Kenner Inc. of Providence, Rhode Island, Avila briefly describes the individuals who subsequently acquired the business in 1939 and brought it back into production. Prominent among them were Isaac N. Babbitt, who became the new company treasurer, and Robert M. Gundersen, who became the new plant manager. The company was reincorporated in September of 1939 as the Gundersen Glass Works and operated successfully until Gundersen’s death in 1952. At that time the name was changed to Gundersen-Pairpoint, and Babbitt’s son James took over until the closing of the factory in 1957. The Cubistic Pyramid candlesticks were a product of this last-named company.
Avila devotes only half a page of text to the Gundersen-Pairpoint firm. He writes that "James Babbitt continued to experiment with various moulds and formulas hoping to promote sales.... During this period John DeVasseur was the designer and sculptor of the waterfall crystal bookends and cubistic pyramid candlesticks which were a large part of the line, and were made in clear, marina, amethyst, auroria, cobalt blue, and peachblow (p. 183)."
Unfortunately, Avila’s passing reference to Cubistic Pyramid candlesticks is not accompanied by an illustration. For this reason the form has been largely overlooked. Examples in Gundersen's distinctive peachblow color are the most recognizable, but even these are not widely known. In the year 2000 Sean & Johanna Billings illustrated a pair in their Peachblow Glass book(Iola, WI: Krause Publications, p. 109). The authors describe them only as "Gundersen’s waterfall candlesticks which are quite rare in peachblow." In 2006 collector Michel J. Jodoin generously donated examples in peachblow and marina blue to NBMOG (see illustrations to left), and the Museum is delighted with this opportunity to publicize them to a broader audience.
But we want to know more, and we turn to our web site visitors for help! Are you aware of examples in some of the other colors listed by Avila? Was the name "Cubistic Pyramid" used by Gundersen-Pairpoint? Does more information survive about the designer, John DeVasseur? Can anyone help us locate an illustration of one of the "waterfall crystal bookends" mentioned by Avila? Also, we wonder if DeVasseur was inspired by the related (and much better known!) "Ruba Rombic" design introduced in 1928 by the Consolidated Glass Company of Coraopolis, PA. Please share your insights with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (tel) 508-984
"Cubistic Pyramid" Candlesticks in Peachblow & Marina Blue Gundersen-Pairpoint New Bedford, MA, c. 1955 H: 3 3/16" NBMOG Collection Gift: Michel J. Jodoin Acc. 2006.003-004
Amethyst Satin "Cubistic Pyramid" Candlestick (Post 2009, 06-18.1) NBMOG member Kenneth Depew informs us that he has in his collection a "Cubistic Pyramid" candlestick in amethyst glass. This confirms the production of the form in amethyst, as claimed by George C. Avila on page 183 of his book The Pairpoint Glass Story (New Bedford, MA: Reynolds-DeWalt Printing, 1968). The delightful surprise documented by Mr. Depew's candlestick, however, is that the surface of the form sometimes received an acid-frosted or "satin" finish. Mr. Depew suggests the possibility that other colors will turn up with the same treatment. He sends along a photograph of his satin-finish candlestick (see illustration to left) and notes that he purchased it in New Bedford "some years ago" from Mt. Washington and Pairpoint glass authority and dealer Louis O. St. Aubin, Jr.