Our museum feature this month, a wonderful collection of over 600 different crystal cordial glasses, is not only one of our favorites; it also speaks to the heritage of our company. The collection was started by our founder and President, Bob Page, and actually represents the product type (crystal) for which he first began to help others find replacement pieces, and which ultimately led to the formation of Replacements, Ltd. 25 years ago!
Cordials, which evolved in the 17th century for use with strong drink, have more recently been used to serve sweet liqueurs like schnapps and other fun after-dinner drinks. And just to help all of us enjoy using these pieces more, the term “cordial” derives from obsolete medical usage, as various beverages were prepared which were believed to be beneficial to one’s health, especially for the heart ( cordialis, Latin). In recent years, these pieces have become highly collectible for several reasons. First, modern makers of crystal have begun to phase out the production of cordials similar to what has happened in many cases with sherbet champagne glasses. Because these pieces are becoming increasingly rare, they are becoming more and more popular with collectors. Another reason for collector interest is that in most cases cordials are miniature replicas of a given pattern’s water goblet.
It takes refinement of processes and craftsmanship to create a miniature replica in crystal of a large water goblet, retaining all the intricacies of the pattern in the miniature version. (Because of the rarity of some of these pieces, we did not remove the pieces from the display cases in which they currently reside.) In the image above, you will note a group of cordials surrounding a large banquet goblet made in Cambridge’s Nudes pattern. In the image below, you’ll see a variety of cordials from this same Nudes pattern. It should be noted that the pattern “Nudes” was made in a wide variety of colors and some versions of the pattern featured intricate etched designs.
The cordial collection at Replacements, Ltd. features more than 670 patterns from manufacturers like Cambridge, Heisey, Imperial, Tiffin, Seneca, Bryce, Morgantown, Noritake, and Fostoria. (Due to the size of the collection, we are unable to show all of it here, which is another great reason to come visit us, you can see it in person.) One large group of cordials is by Tiffin Glass, and features 212 different patterns. We also feature cordials in 175 Fostoria patterns, 25 Imperial patterns, and 55 Heisey patterns. Our collection of Cambridge cordials features a number of the Harlequin patterns. These pieces were produced in a variety of colors and were meant to be mixed and matched in much the same way as Homer Laughlin’s Fiesta dinnerware.
There are also a number of patterns in the collection with historical reference. Pristine by Cambridge features a stem that has a series of graduating repeated circles. The pattern was introduced in 1937 and is an excellent example of designs popular during the Art Deco period. Another interesting pattern is Flanders by Tiffin. This pattern was produced between 1927 and 1935. The bowl features the etched image of a poppy. Tiffin produced the pattern to commemorate the loss of life that occurred during the Battle of Flanders during World War One. This battle was the last major conflict of 1914, the first year of the war. John McCrae penned the poem “In Flanders Field” in which he refers to the poppies that grew across the field after the mass burial of slain soldiers. It is from this reference that Tiffin drew the poppy design for the Flanders pattern!
There are many other cordials with a historical pedigree featured in our museum. You must try to visit us in person to see the entire collection. And remember, while our featured cordial museum pieces are not for sale, we do have a huge selection of cordials that are for sale in various crystal patterns on our web site. We hope to see you soon at our Greensboro, North Carolina facilities. Our Showroom and Museum are open from 9am to 7pm ET, 7 days (except holidays). The Showroom and Museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. We look forward to your visit!