GI-28 Washington Portrait – Albany NY – Sailing Frigate Flask

Provenance: Anonymous

Very little is known about Albany Glass Works which is prominently embossed on our olive-yellow glass GI-28 pint Washington Bust and Sailing Frigate historical flask.

The first reference to the glass house occurs in 1847 with follow-up small advertising for Albany Glass Works in 1848. They were located on the corner of Church and Schutler Streets in Albany, New York and listed as “manufacturers of Demijohn of all sizes, Druggists’ Glass, Vials &c. of superior quality; Carboys, Wine, Porter, and Mineral Water Bottles; also, Patent Medicine Bottles, and all other articles made in private moulds.” Daniel O. Ketchum was noted as the agent. On Monday, March 15, 1852, a public auction occurred at the rotunda of the Exchange Building, Albany city, where “all the buildings, brick &c. of the old Albany Glass Works” was sold. D. O Ketchum was again acting as an agent.

Our museum example is extraordinary to behold as the glass is full of all sizes of air bubbles and exudes character at every level. The obverse of the flask features a small three-quarter George Washington portrait facing to the left. Washington is in uniform with three buttons on the jacket breast. “ALBANY GLASS WORKS” is embossed in a deep horseshoe configuration surrounding the bust of Washington. Two lines embossed, “ALBANY N Y” occurs below the bust. The reverse of the flask depicts a fully-rigged frigate sailing to the right on a turbulent swell of water. The flask sides are vertically ribbed with a heavy medial rib. The pontiled flask is known to have three different lips; plain sheared lip, double rounded collar, and a broad sloping collar.

Although the flask was produced in many glass colors, most are difficult to find. Known colors are amber which is scarce; aqua and light green which is comparatively scarce; emerald green, dark green, green (yellow tone), blue-green, yellow, clear amber, dark amber, red amber and, cornflower is considered rare; olive amber, olive-yellow and light sapphire, very rare and clear olive green and medium cobalt blue are extremely rare.

George Washington Portrait

John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, commissioned the portrait of George Washington used in this narrative. As Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, Washington liberated Boston (visible in the background) from the British in March 1776. Hancock wrote to Washington, “I beg, Sir, you will be pleased to accept my heartfelt thanks for the attention you have showed to my property in that town.” 

Washington reluctantly accepted Hancock’s invitation to sit for the Philadelphia painter and radical patriot Charles Willson Peale. In a diary entry dated July 2, 1776, Peale recorded work on the portrait along with these terse but resonant words: “This day the Continental Congress declared the United States Colonies Free and Independent States.”

USS Constitution

This watercolor and gouache painting, attributed to Michele Felice Corné and completed about 1803, is the earliest known depiction of USS Constitution. It is not known if the Constitution is the frigate depicted on the flask though the ship is similar. The image reflects the ship’s appearance after having already undergone several refits since its launch in 1797, and shows much of the complement of sails set and the original Hercules figurehead on the bow. The figurehead was destroyed in 1804 when Constitution and USS President collided while on patrol in the Mediterranean during the First Barbary War.

Support: Reference to American Bottles and Flasks and Their Ancestry by Helen McKearin and Kenneth M. Wilson, Crown Publishers Inc., New York, 1978.

Support Images: Auction Lot 39: Washington Bust And “Albany Glass Works / Albany / NY” – Sailing Frigate Portrait Flask, Albany Glass Works, Albany, New York, 1848-1850. Brilliant sapphire blue, applied sloping collared mouth – pontil scar, pint. GI-28 Exceptional in all aspects. Beautiful and rare. Fine condition. Ex Pardoe collection, ex Thomas McCandless collection. – Norman C. Heckler & Company

Support Images: Auction Lot 5: Washington Bust And “Albany Glass Works / Albany / N Y” – Frigate Portrait Flask, Albany Glass Works, Albany, New York, 1847-1850. Medium yellow amber, applied double collared mouth – iron pontil mark, pint; (light exterior high point wear, 3/8 inch fissure, 1/4 inch sliver flake and 1/4 inch resin repair on base edge). GI-28 A scarce flask with bold embossing and bright color. – Norman C. Heckler & Company

Support Images: Auction Lot 65: Washington Bust And “Albany Glass Works / Albany / NY” – Sailing Frigate Portrait Flask, Albany Glass Works, Albany, New York, 1847-1850. Dark root beer amber, applied double collared mouth – pontil scar, pint; (manufacturer’s roughness along the base edge on the frigate side). GI-28 Strong embossing, fine condition, damage noted is a manufacturer’s flaw. Ex Crawford Wetlauffer collection, ex Edmund and Jayne Blaske collection #56, Gerry Strubel collection. – Norman C. Heckler & Company

Support Images: Auction Lot 74: Washington Bust And “Albany Glass Works / Albany / NY” – Sailing Frigate Historical Flask, Albany Glass Works, Albany, New York, 1847-1850. Aquamarine, sheared mouth – tubular pontil scar, pint. GI-28 Brilliant example, strong embossing. – Norman C. Heckler & Company

Support Images: Auction Lot 41: Washington Bust And “Albany Glass Works / Albany / NY” – Frigate Portrait Flask, Albany Glass Works, Albany, New York, 1847-1850. Light to medium bluish-green, applied double collared mouth – pontil scar, pint; (just a hint of exterior high point wear). GI-28 A bright example with a strong mold impression. Fine condition. Robert and Janice Weekes collection. – Norman C. Heckler & Company

Support Images: Auction Lot 23: Washington Bust And “Albany Glass Works” – Frigate Portrait Flask, Albany Glass Works, Albany, New York, 1848-1850. Brilliant yellow with a topaz tone, applied double collared mouth – iron pontil mark, pint. GI-28 Extremely rare color, possibly unique. Strong embossing. Beautiful, finely pebbled glass. No high point wear. Great condition. Exceptional. – Norman C. Heckler & Company

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