Antique Detective: What Do You Know About Friggers?

friggers walking sticksBy Anne Gilbert

      You may have some friggers and not even know it. To add to the confusion  friggers are also known as end-of-the-day glass and “whimsies.” They were made in the 19th century by Victorian glass makers at the end of their working day. If you have inherited some novel 19th century glass figural objects in a variety of shapes and multi colors,  could be that is what you have. They also come in a variety of categories from darning eggs and rolling pins to decorative canes. Unknowingly, collectors often lump them into other categories. For instance bell collectors often include them with ceramic and metal bells. Rolling pin collectors add them to ceramic and wooden rolling pin collections.

      Historically, they were made of multi-colored glass, as early as 1790 in England. Those made in Nailsea, England, are known for glassware with colored louping of opal glass. However what shows up these days are the Victorian whimseys. The practice spread to other glass works in England and by the 1880s to American glass houses in Sandwich, MA, and Pittsburg, PA.

When machines took over the production of glass, glass blowers no longer could get the glass for their off-hours creations.

      Superstitions in the 19th century played a part in the popularity of the canes. They were placed over the front door to repel germs. The germs were supposed to swirl around the colors (like moths in front of a flame) and bypass the house.

FRIGGER ROLLING PINFriggers also had a romantic touch in the 1800s. Sailors  would inscribe hollow glass rolling pins with hearts and verses to their sweethearts. They were tasty love gifts when filled with rum or tea. The rolling pins had a practical side when they had metal stoppers.

      Collectors love and look for the glass darning eggs not only made in colored glass but in a variety of types of Art Glass.
CLUES: Reproductions have never stopped being made. They are difficult to tell the old from new. One way however, the glass is heavier. Since pieces aren’t marked the makers are unknown.

      Friggers in aqua or clear glass were probably made in a window or bottle factory. Many decorating  and glass-blowing techniques were used to create friggers. Not only the familiar Nailsea types but also colors swirled to resemble Venetian glass, peach blow and milk glass. Don’t worry if they have a few nicks and chips. Could be a sign they aren’t reproductions.

      Prices vary depending on age, rarity of form or decoration: from $100 up.

PHOTO CAPTIONS: (1) Nailsea glass walking stick friggers PHOTO CREDIT: (1) World Collectors Net, U.K. (2) Cranberry glass Nailsea rolling pin frigger PHOTO CREDIT: (2) Potteries Auctions, Staf-fordshire, U.K.

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