Sicilian Vase Designer: Frederick S. Shirley (British, 1841–1908)
Manufacturer: Mount Washington Glass Company (American, 1876–1907)


American Decorative Arts

On view, 1st floor, American Decorative Arts before 1900

During the 1880s, novelties were the focus of many glass manufacturers. Larger, more established companies, including Mount Washington Glass, were leaders in the innovations of artistic glass, using both color and applied decoration as key components. Patented in 1878 by Frederick S. Shirley of Mount Washington Glass, Sicilian ware was usually black with irregularly shaped colored areas. This unusual effect was achieved by laying glass chips and enamels onto the surface of the newly blown form, placing it on the pontil, and reheating it so that the colors fused to the body. The gilded decoration was applied after the form had gone through the annealing process. Later called Lava Glass, the rare Sicilian ware may have been the first line of colored art glass in America.


Blown lead glass with fused lead glass and gilding


5 5/8 × 4 3/8 × 4 1/8 in. (14.29 × 11.11 × 10.48 cm)

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Yale University Art Gallery

Accession Number



19th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Fourth Quarter Antiques (Andrew Van Styn), Baltimore, Maryland, by 2000; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

  • John Stuart Gordon, American Glass: The Collections at Yale (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2018), 190–91, no. 100.
  • "Acquisitions 2000," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2001): 153, ill.
  • John Stuart Gordon, "Time in a Bottle," Antiques 185, no. 5 (September/October 2018): 93, ill.

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