No. 3371 Zephyr Bowl

May 1, 2023 | Museum Monday Treasures

Today’s Museum Monday Treasure from the Museum of American Glass in WV focusses on just one of the extraordinary pieces in the Martin Massman Collection of Steuben Glass. It is the No. 3371 Zephyr bowl, standing 9 3/8” high and 11” wide. Martin Massman’s copy of this exquisite glass sculpture was accompanied by a leather presentation binder, with the following description: “Swirled crystal form suggesting a gust of wind, engraved to represent the Greek god of the west wind. The figure of Zephyr runs impishly across a field of dandelions, scattering seeds with his breath.” As you can see in the close-up of the engraving, the detail is exquisite.

In Steuben’s catalogs, it was routine for them to attribute both the designer of the form and the creator of the engraving design. The glass design for Zephyr was done by George Thompson, an architect who joined the Steuben Design Department when it was created in 1936 and remained a senior designer until his retirement in 1974. He was responsible for at least 30 other pieces in the Massman collection.

The engraving design was the work of Don Wier, a painter and graphic artist, who was also a member of Steuben’s Design Department from 1945 until his retirement in 1968. He is represented in the Massman collection by close to a dozen items.

But this is a rare instance when we can identify the individual who actually did the amazing engraving, in this case the incredibly talented Max Erlacher, who recently passed away at the age of 90. As much as I admire the designs of Mr. Thompson and Mr. Wier, it was the skill of Max Erlacher that gave them the enduring beauty that we admire today.

Zephyr was introduced in 1960 and last offered circa 1964, a true treasure, indeed.

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