Degenhart Owls

Jan 3, 2022 | Museum Monday Treasures

Today’s Museum Monday treasure from the collection of the Museum of American Glass in WV is an army of 289 owls (yes, go ahead and count ’em) made by Degenhart’s Crystal Art Glass between 1967 and 1978. Do owls come in herds? Coveys? Whatever the correct term, these are reproductions of the Westmoreland Glass Company’s owl sitting on 2 books, originally introduced 1919, and made by that company in many colors — but not nearly as many as Degenhart!

I’ve often wondered if Elizabeth Degenhart, who continued to run the Degenhart factory after her husband’s death and who billed herself as “First Lady of Glass,” was just as astute businesswoman or, perhaps, just a tiny bit of a con man (woman). She knew she had customers waiting for every new color, so if a batch came out one day slightly different from the way it had appeared the week before, no problem — a new color! I have to confess I can’t tell the difference between some of these owls.

Look closely at the photographs and see if you can spot the gooney birds. You’ll know them when you see them. They are filling in for owls for which better examples of the color were not available.

These are from the collection of Elizabeth Degenhart and were part of the Degenhart Paperweight & Glass Museum display, gift of her estate in April 1978, and later donated to MAGWV in 2010 after that museum closed.

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