The Italian Barbers
Rocky and Johnny - Here's to you

Italian Barbers

 

The Italian Barbers. Scarce South Jersey-Italian hybrids. These are a category of extra-magnum pedestal weights that probably date to the 1960s and 1970s, plus or minus a decade or two. In my opinion they are overlooked. These are great weights – very well made with the classic, elegant design of a single bloom captured in glass. A set of these is a must for a crimp flower collector. I took some of these to the Tacoma convention to show to Gay LeCleire Taylor, formerly of the glass museum in Wheaton. She was giving a talk on New Jersey crimp roses and she knows her Old Jersey glass. I thought some of these were close to some of the Old Jersey stuff and especially a few with significant footwear. She told me that back in the 1960s and 1970s the proprietor of the major retail glass shop in Wheaton worked with glass artists in Italy to make copies of some of Ralph Barber’s work. Who could blame him? He probably got tired of ten people a day asking him if he had any Ralph Barbers. I am not sure if the Italian company already made such pedestal weights or if this started it all. I am also not sure that all of these are from the same maker, but I suspect they are. Bottom line: these are a top pick – cool weights for a low price. I call them Italian Barbers kind of as an inside joke. Some of these are an attempt to copy Barber by Italians, hence Italian Barbers, but also when I was a kid the barbers I went to were always born in Italy. You could get a haircut and place your bet at the track in Saratoga at the same time. This was in New York in the 1950s. (The haircut was 50 cents.) Within the category of Italian Barbers, I am including similar pedestal flower weights that appear to be from the same maker. Some of these also may be (almost certainly are) attempts at copying sought-after Milville weights like the parrot tulip in addition to the roses - others may just be newly inspired.  These are a subset of Murano and are consequently the product of generations of focused energy, talent, experience, and glory. And being made in the great Murano tradition, they are expertly crafted using top quality glass with strong optics. I guarantee that the glass is a far better quality than it was in the original. Since the globe portion is essentially a sphere, it flips images when you look through it. Darn well made glass. And heavy. These will generally weigh two pounds or more.

NOTE: The portion of the descriptor where I used the term Phase 1, 2, and 3, is an unscientific guestimate based on what I have seen and interpreted as possibly being steps toward the goal of copying the old Ralph Barber pedestal crimp rose with the forward facing rose and the vine.

PS Special thanks to Rocky and Johnny, my Italian barbers and overall great guys.

PPS One of these sold on eBay last week (September 2016) for $1688 - they claimed it was an antique American piece (NEGC) and it wasn't even a nice one (I would not sell one that bad on my website). Someone got ripped. It's not the first time I've seen this done. I once saw a Chinese flower weight sell for many times its value when offered as a Mount Washington antique. Be careful out there.
PPpS One of these I have seen is signed

 
 On the left is a real Ralph Barber. On the right is an Italian Barber.

PW3099. Italian Barber. Murano Magnum Crimp Rare Aventurine Tulip Pedestal Museum Piece. Stunning and expertly made. Flat polished base with light shelf wear. Probably 1960s-1970s. The glass is beautiful crystal and the orb is nearly a perfect sphere. The tulip is astoundingly beautiful. Although the glass is uniformly colored, it shines with aventurine as you turn it in the light – you can see this in the pictures. The glass of the tulip petals is exquisitely colored from the inside out, layered – white, pink, and translucent with sparkling golden aventurine. The single flower weight can be stunning as a paperweight and has been produced since the 1840s with a variety of results – to me, this is about as beautiful you can get. Condition is excellent. I have never seen another of this alluring color. 3 5/8 inch diameter orb; 4 7/8 inches tall; two pounds and fourteen ounces.  $500

PW2537. Italian Barber Family. Murano Magnum Crimp Flower Pedestal Museum Piece. Very nicely made flower with unusual petals in two colors that nicely complement each other. Flat polished base in center that is beveled to the edges. Almost no shelf wear. Probably 1960s- 1970s. It’s a sculptural piece. The glass is beautiful crystal. Made by a master. Condition is excellent. 3 1/2 inch diameter orb; 4 3/4 inches tall; two pounds and ten ounces.  $250

PW2548. Italian Barber. Murano Magnum Crimp Rose Pedestal Museum Piece, after Ralph Barber. Pink and white crimp rose within a green vine. The rose is precise and beautifully shaded pink and white. Expertly made. Flat polished base with very little shelf wear. Probably 1960s-1970s-ish. The glass is beautiful crystal and the orb is nearly a perfect sphere. Condition is excellent, as you might find new at retail shop.  This one is signed in very neat script: “Miles Larson, Milville [sic] NJ”, which I cannot explain. To my eye, this is the best of this style I have seen. 3 3/4 inch diameter orb; 5 5/8 inches tall; two pounds and fourteen ounces.  $325

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