It's January, and the cold doldrums of the garden year are upon many of us. (Tropical residents and those in the Southern hemisphere, forgive our little whine and read on.) Your flowerbeds and veggie rows are either frozen or buried in snow and it's too early to start any seed. This is the season for a bit of botanical joy just inside the window instead of outside. I landscape my windowsills with dried flowers, forced bulbs or branches or evergreen cuttings, displayed in assorted glassware. My glassware collection includes a fair amount of vintage Brody glass.
Normally I hate shopping for and decorating the home, and am totally baffled by the concept of collecting or antiqueing. I could buy new vases at the craft store and be done with the job. What sparked my interest in searching through old glass? My mother-in-law is an apartment dweller and devoted gardener of several small indoor plants. To dress up those plants she sets them in leakproof, overflow-proof green glass bowls. One day she proudly showed me a new acquisition from a nearby yard sale: a Brody bowl. She was tickled to have gotten a "collectible" piece at a bargain. Unlike my mother-in-law, I suppose I am prone to baser motivations such as greed. I wondered if there was an untapped supply of semi-valuable, collectible glassware floating around my area, resting occasionally at yard sales or thrift shops. It might be worth my time to buy a few Brody bowls myself. I stored the name Brody in my mental cache of precious random bits of information.
My life being what it is, I didn't drop everything and start searching for Brody glass. But I did have a few minutes to kill one day between errands. I browsed a thrift store for books, and then thought I'd glance at the glassware. Lo and behold, between two somewhat muddy green pieces I saw a pretty green bowl. The name E O Brody was molded into the bottom.Within minutes I had snagged the rare inexpensive yet meaningful impulse gift for Grandma Miller.
In spite of that find, I still did not immediately embark on a Brody quest. (Give me some credit for leaving that green gold for somebody else to mine for awhile!) I ran my usual errands with their usual time-to-kill opportunities. Another thrift store look-see, this one more focused, yielded TWO pretty bowls, in a new (to us) style. With one to give and one to keep,I could start dressing up my own windowsill plants as well.
This Brody thing was starting to show promise. Enough promise that I made "look for Brody glass" into an official errand one day. Scanning the shelves of yet another thrift store, I discovered clear Brody glass. I bought a cute hobnail bud vase and a large hefty wheat-sheaf pattern vase meant for a dozen roses or similar big bouquet. Prompted by that revelation, I checked some old vases I had used for dried flowers and found I already owned a medium size clear, diamond pattern Brody vase. Well, knock me over with a feather.
Realizing that Brody glass didn't seem so rare, I thought I better do some research. It was time to decide whether I had a new inexpensive hobby or was making an investment. I imagine its also time to tell many of you just what Brody glass is, too.
According to The Glass Encyclopedia, Brody glass was originally a product of the E O Brody Company of Cleveland Ohio. Despite what some e-sellers say, Brody glass is not "Depression era" glass; the company was founded in 1958. Brody pieces were made by several companies from Brody molds. They were then sold wholesale to the florist trade. Most Brody glass is imprinted in a circle on the bottom with E O Brody Cleveland Ohio and a style number. Large numbers of clear and milk glass pieces were made, as well as green, brown and some clear with red paint. I have yet to find any brown or clear with a painted surface. This recent newsletter from Florist Supply Limited, The Source, includes the news that the Brody Company continues to exist as part of a larger entity and still produces florist glass. The Glass Encyclopedia also states that Brody pieces "will become collectible items one day." It occurred to me that I might find out what the market is paying for this glassware.
A look at eBay shows quite a few Brody glass listings. I see some pieces I have, and others I've haven't seen here yet. It also shows me that I might be paying less for my Brody than I would be by strictly shopping on eBay. I may have an advantage by having several thrift stores available to me; I have not tried tapping into the flea market or yard sale stocks. But I don't think the online sellers are getting rich on this. Where does that leave me and my new obsession?
I shop for glass to supply my floral display and gift needs. Between the FTD vases and Good Seasons salad dressing cruets, I see more Brody than I can use, and there are a few Brody shapes that I find actually hideous, to be honest. I'll buy whatever I like, such as a simple basic clear vase for forcing paperwhite narcissus. (Grandma Miller's paperwhites were of course in a Brody vase.) A bowl or two can hold smaller houseplants on my windowsill or table. I will use some of my Brodies for a mid-winter display of dried fern fronds and floral seedheads. In February I can cut forsythia branches for my favorite Brody vase. The big vases urge me to step up my cut flower production. Next summer you can stop by my house and I'll send you home with one nice flower in a Brody bud vase. And while the garden sleeps and the sky weeps, I'll keep browsing glassware as a new hobby, looking for Brody but also checking for a few other glassware names I have discovered. They could make a collector out of me yet.
Resources and creditsBowey, Angela M. The Glass Encyclopedia websiteFlorist Supply Ltd. The Source, (.pdf file)
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