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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The ubiquitous swung vase

Makers of mid-century glass, such as Viking Art Glass and L. E. Smith Glass Company, made swung vases, which were very popular. Other companies like Pilgrim, Fenton, Tiffin and Fostoria made their own versions of the swung vase, but they were not as common.

The vases generally ranged in height from a 7” bud vase to the giant “architectural” floor versions that were sometimes over 40” tall. They were hand-blown, then hand-swung to lengthen, and then the opening was hand-tooled and heat polished smooth.  The vases were literally swung around to produce the neck, with stunning results. 

Popular colors were amberina (an orange-red fading to yellow, also called persimmon), green, amber, red, blue and an opaque orange usually referred to as bittersweet. However, the vases can be found in other colors, such as peach, amethyst, pale yellow, pale aqua and even multi-colored art glass versions.

With the exception of the very large pieces, these iconic mid-century vases were produced in large quantities, so they are still easy to find and very reasonably priced.
L. E. Smith architectural vase
Tiffin vase
Viking vases
Fenton hobnail opalescent vase
L. E. Smith aqua blue vase
Fenton amber hobnail vase
Viking amethyst vase
L. E. Smith vase
L. E. Smith bittersweet vase
My daughter's collection of swung vases


  1. What a great collection! I haven't actually ever seen the larger sizes in real life.

  2. @Tanya: I saw three HUGE ones yesterday at Room Service Vintage in Austin, Texas. My daughter started her collection a few years ago, and I help her add to it every Christmas. I was tempted to buy the largest one for her yesterday, but it was $200...and she was with me, so that would have kinda spoiled the surprise anyway, even if I weren't a cheapskate.

  3. I think my daughter's largest ones are only around 24" tall. I think the 40" ones can weigh 100 pounds or more.

  4. Thanks for the info. I've seen this style a lot and wondered about them. LOVE your daughter's collection. Beautiful!!

  5. @Rhan Vintage: When I was a kid growing up, everyone I knew had at least one of these vases. They really bring back memories of the 50s and 60s to me.

    My daughter's collection keeps growing and growing, and she doesn't show any signs of wanting to stop getting them, so I have a feeling they'll have to move to the top of a credenza soon. She's running out of shelf space.

  6. I've seen these around, but had no idea they had a particular name or method of production. I learn so much from your blog! I passed up one of the 40" ones at an estate sale. I considered it, but it was lavender and just way too big in scale for my apartment.

  7. @monogirl: Wow, I'd love to find one of the big ones at an estate sale, although I wouldn't have any use for lavender either. Thanks for the kind words about the blog. I'm glad you enjoy it.

    1. Hi i have a collection of 4 in orange that i have for sale if your intrested

  8. super cool post! i have one of my grandmother's that is an aqua blue color, she kept huge peacock feathers in it next to her crushed blue velvet couch. mega glam :)

  9. @Bandita: Hey, welcome to my blog! After reading yours the other day, I was hoping you'd stop by. Sounds like you had a style-conscious grandmother. I did too. I give her all the credit for my love of decorating, as well as all the blame for my compulsive shopping. :)

  10. Those are awesome! I know my grandparents have some too. I wonder if they'll donate one to the "make Ginas' apartment pretty" foundation....

    PS: Bandita- that is brilliant! Your grandma must have been one seriously stylish lady!!

  11. @Gina: Welcome to my blog. I just checked yours out and loved it. Hope to see a lot more of you around here.

  12. Wondering where I might find the names of and value for the ones I have

  13. Wondering where I might find the names of and value for the ones I have