Story: Tiffany Burgess |
Fresh, bold colors have never been more popular in fashion or home design. However, it wasn’t this vibrant contemporary trend that led Neil McConnell to his first piece of Moon and Star glassware. Rather, it was a childhood memory and a trip to an antique mall more than 17 years ago. “I saw a blue glass canister with that signature Moon-and-Star motif, and I remember thinking it was just like the ones my mother and grandmother had when I was growing up,” says McConnell. “My mom’s canisters were green and my grandmother had ruby ones,” he adds.
While the glassware, which was made in a variety of tabletop pieces, experienced great popularity in the 1950s and 60s, it has been produced since the late 1800s. The pattern was originally known as Palace glass; however, it soon earned the nickname Moon and Star due to its star-like impressions. Later productions of the pattern in the early 1900s made the nickname its official title.
The original color, crystal clear, also changed. Soon, a range of shades was developed in enough hues to make even the color wheel jealous of their vibrancy. “Originally, I was only going to collect blue, the shade of the first canisters I’d seen, but then I found a piece for just $5, and I started collecting every shade they offered,” laughs McConnell.
Today, he has a collection of more than 2,500 pieces of the iconic glassware. Tumblers, goblets, candy dishes and canisters are among the more popular pieces, and are therefore often easier to find. McConnell owns a set of tumblers and goblets in every color made. However, it is the rarer, hard-to-find items that he enjoys hunting for and collecting. Some of these pieces include decanters, epergnes, candlesticks and punch bowl sets. He is particularly fond of the large stein tankards or mugs. Only 12 of these exist in each color, and McConnell currently has two in his collection. He also likes the pattern’s lamps and tea-courting candlestick holders.
With a collection this large and varied, it may seem that McConnell has been on a near daily hunt over the past two decades. “I was fortunate to find a lot of my pieces in the 1990s when there were not a lot of people seeking it. Only more recently has it gained popularity and become harder to locate, and therefore more costly,” he explains. The pattern is also still produced today by Weishar Enterprises. Those on the hunt can recognize these pieces, which were all made in 1988 and after, by their Weishar signature.
Not only has McConnell enjoyed the hunt for each unique piece, he has also had the opportunity to meet other collectors through The Society of Moon and Star Pattern Glass, a club specifically for enthusiasts of the wares. Glass shows around the nation bring the club together to compare pieces. McConnell is currently serving as chairman of the club. “It’s fun to get together, set up a display and hear how others have grown their own collections,” he says.