Are They Really Canadian?

by Bob and Carole Bruce

(Reprinted from the April 1992 "the Pioneer", Volume V, No. 2.)

When you find a salt shaker that you know is from the Victorian era that you haven’t seen before, you get excited. Then when you look on the bottom and find a large embossed number, you begin to wonder what you have found, since numbers on the bottom are not typical of Victorian glass. This happened to us. However, a lady we met at Brimfield a couple of years ago got us started on a search that led to the answer… at least, to more information about the shaker. The shaker we had was very much like “Scroll, Narrow-Based” except it was more ornate. On the bottom of the shaker is a large #7, clearly raised and easy to see. We were in a booth at Brimfield looking at the shakers for sale and overheard a lady saying that she was trying to collect all of the “Burlington Shakers.” We had no idea what she was talking about, so we stayed around to find out. The lady was from Canada; Burlington was a glass house in Canada; Burlington supposedly made a series of shakers during the Victorian period, each with a number on the bottom. She said the information was in some book with the name “Canadian Glass” in the title. We looked for some time, asked several book dealers at shows but couldn’t find anything. Then we finally found a book by Unitt & Worrall, Canadian Handbook, Pressed Glass Tableware. The accompanying photos (below) are from this reference.

Burlington Shakers

Below are the list of shaker numbers, their Canadian Names, and when applicable/available, Common names/References

#1, Butterfly & Tassel.
#2, Oak Leaf & Inverted Fleur-de-Lis; Torch & Leaf (P 176F).
#3, Canadian Moon & Star.
#4, Swirl; SS #4 Twist Salt.
#5, Unknown.
#6, Canadian Corn; Corn Barrel (P 157O).
#7, No. 7 Design; SS #250.
#8, Frame & Shell; Shell & Coral (P 39G).
#9, Canadian Shell; Shell, Triple (P 172J).
#10, Beaded Lattuce & Frame; Same SS #53 (L2 p 205).
#11, Unnamed; Diving Bell (L2 p 222).
#12, Tassel; Tassel (P 41N).

Now the fun! If you have any of these, did you find the number on the bottom? We have seen the number on #7, #8, and #10. Also, we looked very carefully at #2, #4, #6, #9 and #12. On those that have been considered as U.S. made, we never found a number on any of them. The Canadian shakers are supposed to be found in either white opaque or blue opaque. Our experience has been the same. The blue is a very “soft” blue. We thought that the color of Torch & Leaf, and one of our Twist shakers were the same. Close but probably not the same. Darn!

It would certainly be interesting to hear from anyone with a numbered shaker. Some are supposed to come with or without numbers. Personally, I doubt it. My guess is that numbers 3, 7, 8, and 10 are Canadian, probably without U.S. origin. Numbers 2, 4, 5, 9 and 12 are of U.S. origin, possibly later made in Canada. Numbers 1, 5, and 11, who knows? Number 4 may be SS #116. Barbara White submitted the sketch and stated that someone told her thay were made by Burlington Glass in Canada! Has it got a number on the bottom, Barbara? Warman shows a similar salt (Plate 129D), but the twists go the wrong way. Number 7 is SS #250 submitted by Dick Krauss. Number 8 is Shell & Coral, P 39G. Peterson says it has #8 on the bottom and classifies it as rare. Number 9 is Diving Bell, L2, p 222, listed in custard. This is not a color indicated for the Canadian shakers. Does it have a #9 on the bottom? Number 10 is SS #53. It was identified as Unitt’s American & Canadian Goblets. The submittal stated it has a large figure 10 on the bottom. We have one in blue with a #10 on the bottom.

As we look through the AGSSSC’s unknown shakers, some of them look like they could belong to the Canadian series. Are you sure that one of the shakers you have doesn’t have a number on the bottom? Maybe you have the unknown #5 or one of the U.S. made with a number.

OK, now that you are back from going to look at all of your shakers like these, please finish the rest of the Pioneer or let us continue. There are more shakers to Canada in the book. Some of you will have other Canadian reference books to check. There was an excellent article by Bill Heacock in Collecting Glass, Volume 2, 1985. In this article, Canadian Glass Controversies, Heacock gave little or no credibility to the authors, Stevens and Unitt. He was very critical of their “work.” To stimulate your interest, we quote Heacock at one point in reference regarding Stevens’ research data which claimed certain patterns were of Canadian origin: “It seems incomprehensible that one single factory could produce more than 140 different table lines in an estimated 23 years, and yet not ONE can be PROVEN as being made there.” It is certainly interesting reading. So, like all written work, we must take it with tongue in cheek sometimes, and be careful what we learn from if it does not show documentation or proper references!

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