GII-33 Eagle – Louisville KY Glass works Flask

Provenance: Anonymous

The American eagle was chosen to decorate more flasks than any other single motif in the entire repertoire of flask design elements. It is not hard to understand why, as our young country chose the American bald eagle as its emblem to signify strength, power, and sovereignty on the Great Seal of the United States.

When looking at the McKearin and Wilson charts and their line drawing illustrations of eagles, you can not help but notice varied renderings of the eagle from clumsy as on the GII-114 Double Eagle quart, to highly detailed as you might see on a GII-24 Double Eagle pint.

When looking at our subject golden-amber, pocket-size GII-33 Louisville Eagle flask, you see a rather plain-looking, simplified, and stylized American Eagle. The embossed eagle has its head turned to the left, with spread wings that are slightly raised. It is featured within an oval cut-out panel in the vertical ribbing which occurs from the bottom of the neck to the base of the flask. The eagle has a breast shield, an arrow, or thunderbolt in the left talons, and an olive branch in the right talon. Five embossed stars are positioned above the eagle’s head.

The reverse of the flask has three lines of embossed copy reading ‘LOUISVILLE GLASS WORKS’ enclosing in an upper and lower arch the initials ‘KY’ in a straight line within the same type of oval as on the obverse side of the flask. The entire flask except medallions is covered with heavy vertical ribbing.

The flask is known to have a rounded collar, double collar, or a plain lip with a laid-on ring. The flask can be found pontiled or with a smooth base in a broad range of glass colors such as aqua and very pale green which is considered rare. Dark green, blue-green, dark golden-amber, dark amber, and red-amber are considered very rare.

The flask was produced at the Louisville Glass Works in Louisville, Kentucky from 1860 to 1873. From 1850 to 1901, at least seven different glass manufacturing factories operated in Louisville, Kentucky. Six were utilitarian bottle houses, and the others manufactured window and plate glass. In 1850, the first glass bottle and jar-making firm, known as the Kentucky Glass Works was formed, which, by 1855, was being referred to under the name Louisville Glass Works. “Louisville KY Glass Works” is the actual wording on some of the glass works embossed whiskey and scroll flasks of the 1850s and 1860s era. This copy is also embossed on our subject flask.

In the mid-1850s, the Louisville Ky Glass Works was being run by Douglass, Rutherford & Co., replacing the previous partnership of Douglas and Taylor who used the name Kentucky Glass Works in advertising. The glass works remained on Clay Street near Main with a warehouse on the east side of Second Street, between Main and Market Streets. The partners were George Douglass, John Stanger, William Doyle, William Douglass, and Thomas Rutherford.

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 46: Eagle – “Louisville / KY / Glass Works” Historical Flask, Louisville Glass Works, Louisville, Kentucky, 1860-1870. Vertically ribbed body, aquamarine, applied collared mouth with ring – smooth base, half-pint. GII-33 A bright, clean example with strong embossing, fine condition. – Norman Heckler, Norman C. Heckler & Company

Support Images: Auction Lot 50: Eagle – “Louisville / KY / Glass Works” Historical Flask, Kentucky Glass Works, Louisville, Kentucky, 1860-1870. Light to medium blue-green, applied round collared mouth – smooth base, half-pint. GII-33 Robert and Janice Weekes collection – Norman C. Heckler & Company Auction #167

Support Images: Auction Lot 76: Eagle – “Louisville / KY / Glass Works” Historical Flask, Louisville Glass Works, Louisville, Kentucky, 1860-1865. Raised oval panels with eagle and embossing on a vertically ribbed flask, deep root beer amber, applied mouth with ring – smooth base, half-pint. GII-33 A comparatively scarce flask with bold embossing and a pleasing form. Fine condition. Anthony Picadio collection – Norman C. Heckler & Company Auction #167

Support Images: Auction Lot 83: Eagle – “Louisville / KY / Glass Works” Historical Flask, Louisville Glass Works, Louisville, Kentucky, 1860-1865. Raised oval panels with eagle and embossing on a vertically ribbed flask, medium yellow olive, applied round collared mouth – smooth base, half pint; (professionally cleaned, light high point wear remains). GII-33 Rare beautiful color. A scarce mold. Carl Sturm collection. – Norman Heckler, Norman C. Heckler & Company

Support Images: Auction Lot 103 Window Shot: Eagle – “Louisville / KY / Glass Works” Historical Flask, Louisville Glass Works, Louisville, Kentucky, 1860-1865. Raised oval panels with eagle and embossing on a vertically ribbed flask, medium yellowish amber, applied mouth with ring – smooth base, half pint; (several flakes on edge of mouth, the largest being 1/8 inch, light exterior high point wear). GII-33 Fine condition. – Norman Heckler, Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #187, May 2020

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