Growing Your Own Flower Garden

by Reyne Haines

As I look out my window I notice many things changing. The color of the grass is beginning to look green. I see a few robins searching for food in the early morning dew.  The squirrels run about the yard as if just waking from a long winters nap.  Springtime is here.

Soon my tulips and daffodils will be in full bloom. Butterflies will be searching for sweet nectar to drink.  The bees will light briefly on each looking for nurishment and will help next years array of flowers to be grander than the year before. 

As I drink my morning coffee I realize, this is what Spring is all about.  I set down my cup, and head for the garage.  It is this time of year that causes me to pull out one of my favorite dinnerware collections.  Made in the late 1920s by an American firm called U.S. Glass Company.  The pattern, Flower Garden with Butterflies.

Each year about this time I begin searching the Internet for more pieces to add to my collection.  Something I haven’t seen before or read about in the books.  This is a pattern that was made in many pieces, yet can be very hard to find.  A few pieces turn up at better glass shows across the country, and each month a piece or two will turn up online. 

Before the evolution of the Internet, I might be lucky to find two pieces a year.  With the help of a few online dealers, my collection has expanded and I can now be a bit more choosey for which pieces to add to it next.

Flower Garden and Butterflies is also known to some collectors as Butterflies and Roses.  It came in a variety of springtime colors such as pink, green, blue-green, blue, canary yellow, crystal, and amber. A few pieces can be found in black.  There is also the elusive black amethyst. Black amethyst being pieces that appear black, but when held up to the light change to deep purple.  Some of the pieces you find have gold gilt bands around their edges.  I have seen a few pieces with enameled flowers.  All pieces have the butterfly though.  There are some pieces that have been mistaken for Flower Garden and Butterfly that were covered with flowers but with no butterfly. No butterfly, wrong pattern. 

Searching for the butterfly is one of fun aspects about collecting this pattern.  It is not always in the same place, and can be like finding Waldo.  Not always an easy task, but you enjoy the search.

It is hard to understand why a pattern so hard to find came in such a large array of colors and in approximately 49 different shapes and sizes.  There are many other Depression glass patterns with less pieces made more readily available.  What is also interesting is the differences in a few of the shapes.  For example, there are four different styles of candlesticks, three different covered candy dishes, nine different comports, three different powder jars and five different vases.  Interestingly enough, they made a glass candle to go into one of the sets of candlesticks.  Go figure!  Keep in mind though, not all pieces were made in each color.  It varies. 

I’ve always thought if something was too easy to find, why bother.  This pattern can keep collectors searching for years and still not come up with a complete set in a single color.  The optimist in me thinks having a complete set in a variety of colors would be more fun.   Multiple colors much like your own flower garden. 

If you are a beginning collector, or have just seen this article and decided this would be a great pattern to start with, good for you!  I must warn you though, this pattern is not for one who clings tightly to their checkbook.  It will cost you a pretty penny to put together even the smallest of collections.  If you are patient, you can find deals.  Book values on these items can start out as cheap as $15.00-20.00 a plate and rise up to $500.00 for a pair of 12” candlesticks with glass candle inserts. But who’s counting??  It’s no different than buying fine china and crystal in your finer department store. You just have to swallow the fact that this is a) not new and has been used by someone else before you and b) is not fine china OR fine crystal.  When your friends ask you about your collection, tell them its Depression Glass…with attitude!

Holy Grail

There is always a piece in every pattern collectors dream of.  The holy grail if you will of collecting any specific thing.  Be it paintings by a specific artist, a piece of silver, vintage jewelry…you name it.  There is always the elusive piece to hope for.  The most sought after piece in Flower Garden and Butterfly is the heart shaped covered candy dish.  This piece was made in pink, green, blue-green, blue and canary yellow.  With all those colors made, it rarely turns up.  Apparently this piece was originally sold as a Valentines Day gift with candy.  The price guides list this piece in the $1500.00 range, and some consider it too rare to price. The boxes that the candy containers were originally sold in are even more elusive.  One was shown in the Collector’s Enclyclopedia of Depression Glass, 13th Edition and the author notes “The piece was sold the day after Valentines Day and the collector is now searching for the other colors. It is doubtful he will get lucky enough to find another one boxed, but stranger things have happened.” 

Many people today think smoking is “out” however with the value of an ashtray in this pattern, you’d never know it.  Ashtrays were made in blue, canary yellow, pink, green, amber and crystal. Their book value is a low of $175.00 and a high of $200.00.  Do you think they could be used to hold after dinner mints?  Nuts perhaps?

Tips for Collecting 

You’ve decided to create your own Flower Garden and Butterfly collection.  What are some do’s and don’t when collecting this pattern. 

1)      Buy a book.  The first thing on your checklist. This will tell you what pieces were made, what sizes they were made in, and in what colors.  It will also give you a range in which to expect to pay for each piece.  Two of my favorites you can pick up online or at your local bookstore are:   

Mauzy’s Depression Glass, a Photographic Reference with Prices by Barbara & Jim Mauzy.  $24.95 Hardback.

Collector’s Encyclopedia of Depression Glass, by Gene Florence. Hardback, $19.95

  2)      The time to buy an antique is when you see it.  Unless you wish to become one of those collectors that has “The one that got away” story, when you find a piece, buy it. Too many times we go into shops or stores only to have someone two steps behind us waiting for us to put something down and walk away. They are all too happy to pick up our mistakes and when you come back 15 minutes later, you will find the piece long gone. 

3)      Buy mint!  Glass collectors like things in mint condition.  That means free of chips, cracks, lots of scratches and are not cloudy from use.  Now if you happen to spot a chipped heart shaped box, go for it.  But other pieces can be found in better condition another day.  Save your money and buy the best.  It will keep the value of your collection in the long run and should the day come when you need to part with it, there will be no excuses when you present it to another collector. 

4)      Make a list!  Keep a list of what pieces you have or you are looking for.  Make copies of the list. On that list, put your name, email address or phone number. Bring these with you to antique shops and shows. When you find someone who has a piece or seems to carry a good array of depression glass, leave this with them for future pieces they may come across.  It can help put your name at the top of the list when new inventory comes in.  


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