Cool Find:

A set of six MCM silver fade wine glasses with a heart-adorned chrome caddy. This shiny, never used set was passed on to me by a friend of my mother’s. They were a wedding gift she never used that she thought I might be able to use or re-sell. Well, I do have a swanky vintage bar cart and what bar cart is complete without fabulous barware to go with it? I think they’re pretty cool. And timely, too!

What’s so special?

I had never even heard of the “silver fade” phenomenon that shook the vintage airwaves recently. Of course, I don’t have TV so I don’t watch Madmen, but if I did I might have noticed the sleek vintage Dorothy Thorpe whiskey glasses from which Don Draper casually swigs away the workday. My new wine glasses however, are NOT Dorothy Thorpe as most eBay postings would have you believe. The design is from the same era as the iconic Thorpe glasses, and I think it’s awesome that a female designer from an era so dominated by men is getting so much credit, but they are not hers. There. That said, let’s talk about what they are, besides awesome and shiny and even a bit sparkly.

Don Draper Mad Men and Dorothy Thorpe silver fade glass

How it all began: still from Madmen, the dawn of the Dorothy Thorpe era! (From http://www.filmandfurniture.co.uk)

This has been a tough find to research; but not because of a lack of information, but because of so little accurate information. The silvery fading thing on the glass is called “lusterware” and my best guess at a manufacturer is Vitreon Queen’s Lusterware in New York. The etched, or more accurately, embossed floral pattern seems to be a later design from the plain silver fade (70s perhaps?). Oh, and they are lately referred to as “silver ombré” cuz that’s the word of the moment. (Mind you, using French-sounding words to be cool is older than Don Draper.)

Another factor that confuses the attribution issue for me seems to be the heart-shaped caddy, which shows up with several sets that are either embossed or not, highballs or wine glasses, and even attributed to other manufacturers. I’m going to guess that the glass manufacturers did not make the caddies and, instead, sourced them from another supplier who sold them ‘all around the town’. (In fact, it’s possible the silver wasn’t even added by the glass manufacturers — I read somewhere in passing that Dorothy Thorpe actually added her silver banding to glasses that she purchased, so…anything is possible here!)

The important points are these:

  1. Not Thorpe
  2. Likely Queen’s Lusterware
  3. Caddy is common
  4. Don Draper doesn’t do floral motifs (actually, I’m just guessing on that)
  5. These things hold wine

Silver fade wine glass close up of embossed pattern

What I did to them.

I shined them up and put them on the cart. I haven’t had a drink from them yet, but I plan to. It’s also important to note, that I will not be putting them in the dishwasher when I do. Apparently, that’s a bad idea, so it’ll be a ‘morning after’ clean for these glasses.

What are they worth?

Egads, it varies! Anywhere from $30 – $90

It really depends on the market and who’s buying. And whether you like wine or whiskey. (Whisky is so ‘in’ these days, but who’s really drinking it?) And whether you try to pass them off as something they are not. And whether you use the keywords: Madmen, Mid-Century Modern, Don Draper and Dorothy Thorpe in your listing. However, with the returning popularity of the bar cart, the desire for cool barware is there. I love the bar cart trend…why should one hide their liquor away? Personally, I keep mine within toe-dragging distance of my desk…just like Don.

Screen-Shot-2013-05-13-at-11_19_35-AM

Don Draper contemplating another swig. (Photo from blog.couchelo.com. Click photo to visit the chic post on Madmen room styling.)

 

Learn more about silver fade wine glasses and barware

Some seemingly credible information from a drinking glass and recipes website: Classy Concoctions. They also have some really cool vintage bar glasses too…drool!

Read about the phenomenon and see some examples of the glasses

A set of the embossed version with highballs, tumblers, shot glasses and even an ice bucket that sells for over $160 CDN

 

Madmen Season 3 whiskeyglass

Even the producers knew they had started something with this Season 3 poster for the show of a Dorothy Thorpe “rolly poly” whiskey glass.

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