Frit Vases, Dugan

Frit glass has been around since the 1600's. As I understand it, it is made by crumbling broken iridescent glass and remelting it. Some of the iridescense remains so it is generally lumped with Carnival Glass. Because Frit pieces do not have a pattern of representational objects, they do not get much attention or bring much value.

The 6-inch aqua pinched in vase above left brought $55 in 2016. The blue rosebowl on the right sold for $80 in 2018. All photos courtesy of Seeck auctions.

The vase on the left is 6 inches tall and was listed as green. It was noted that it glows. It brought $100. On the right is a sort of wonky-shaped vase in what was listed a red or pink. It sold for $35.
The vase on the left is 8 inches tall and is amethyst. It sold for $80. The 4 1/2-inch tall whimsey vase on the right in green sold for $60.
The green pinched-in vase above is 4 1/2 inches tall. It sold for $85. On the right is a tricornered paneled vase in amethyst. It brought $60. All vases sold at the Texas Carnival Glass club convention in 2018.

In the interest of providing more extensive information, here are some additional sales:

Frit bowl, 4 3/4 inch tall, triple pinched, amethyst, 90 (2021)

Frit: vase, 4 1/2" gourd shape, aqua, 60 (2021)

Frit vase, large, 4 sides pinched in, amethyst, 60 (2021)

Frit hyacinth vase, 7-inch, aqua, 80 (2021

Frit hyacinth vase, 7 1/2 inch, marigold opal, 200 (2021)

Frit starburst Saki bottle, 6 inch, cobalt, 90 (2021)

Frit swirl Saki bottle, 6 inch, aqua, 230 (2021)

Frit twisted vase, 6 1/2 inch, aqua, 30, 2022

Tom Monoski is a major collector of these vases, with a collection of some 150. Here what he says about them:

They were made by Thomas Dugan in Indiana Pennsylvania. They are part of his "Venetian Vase Assortment", as they were advertised in Butler Brothers catalogs around 1906. Which means this line was probably developed and produced prior to 1906. I would assume 1905, or sooner. My study and reading shows Dugan was making these "frit" vases as early as 1904. These vases can be heavily irridized! They are mould blown iridescent glass with patterns of a sort. Which makes them "Carnival glass" by definition! This also makes them, in my humble opinion, the very first carnival glass pieces to be made as "Factory Production Items." They have two mould seams, which is very typical of all Dugan frit vases. I have never seen a Dugan frit vase with more than two seams. Sometimes they are difficult to find, but they are always there, if they are truly Dugan frit pieces, and not "art glass."

Dugan also made similar frit vases and bowls in other shapes. He advertised a "Japanese vase assortment" and a "Pompeian Art Vase and Rose Bowl Assortment."

(My opinions) Dugan wanted to copy the rich look of European art glass from the masters of his day. But, he did not have their formula. But he did have lots of their glass. I speculate that he may even have purchased "second quality" or damaged pieces at bargain prices. He crushed these iridescent items into small pieces of frit which carried the iridescence. He made a two part moulded cylinder vase which was blown from the top and had a marie type bottom that could be snapped up later. This vase had vertically aligned outside ribs. While very hot, the vase was rolled over the crushed particles of glass, picking up the iridescent frit on the tops of the ribs. The vase went back into the glory hole to be carefully heated to attach and expand the frit and color. Then directly into another mould, that was smooth on the outside. The artist would blow the glass against this "final shape" mould. This pushed the ribs to the inside, leaving a smooth frit exterior. This created a unique ribbed iridescent color affect and an "oil spot" appearance. The size of the iridescent spots, that looked like vertical ribs, were directly proportional to the size of frit used. And, they followed the internal ribs. This vase had large frit with great iridescence applied to large ribs. The ribs were pressed so tightly that there appears to be a tightly packed thin vertical line between the columns of color. Great look!

Then it was snapped up on the marie and broken from the blower's rod. Back into the glory hole, now in the bulbous shape, and held from the bottom. When hot enough, the piece was removed. The vase, with a now "fire polished" top, was flared and ruffled by hand. The artist used his ruffling tool, which had a scissor type gripping ability, to make the pinches on the outside. With careful and close inspection, one can see the two closely aligned little points of the end of his tool. As he pushed the pinched areas inward, he left little pin holes in the surface of the glass. I don't believe this piece was swung. They are nearly all the same in shape and height. With some variation in the depth of the pinches. This is how they got the frit color to follow the interior ribs. Also, why there is no irridescent color on the inside. No frit, no color.

Sometimes Dugan used iridescent frit, sometimes not. Sometimes both! In many cases, small blotches of irridescent color seem to have escaped the frit and migrated across the surface under the intense heat. Or, these blotches were probably another frit application of smaller size. The frit does not move. A small dot of color can expand when heated. Closely packed frit can be heated enough to melt the frit until it disappears, to produce color that mimics the best sprayed-on iridescent formula color used in later carnival pattern pieces. Sometimes the heating of the rolled on frit may nearly obliterate the Estate pattern. I have examples that have a very faint Estate pattern. They usually have better color.

Updated 4/11/2022