Glass exhibit sparkles at Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK — When some see a glass half-empty or half-full, Bonnie Penders sees not so much the contents but the glass itself. In fact, she specifically see’s patterns in the glass and has hundreds of examples to showcase her unique examples.

Bonnie is a 30-year collector of early American pattern glass, also known as pressed glass, molded or Victorian glass which was made popular during the last half of the 1800s.

Today these vintage glass objects are sought after by collectors and a small sampling of Bonnie’s collection is on display at the Acton Public Library, 60 Old Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook.

Her obsession began innocently enough on a summer afternoon while wandering through an outdoor flea market where she was drawn to a glass goblet. Having never given glassware a second thought, she was captivated by the artistry of the object and when the vendor explained the nature of the “Open Rose” pattern, she unknowingly was at the beginning of a long and pleasurable pursuit of learning and seeking additional examples..

The heyday of early American pressed glassware production was the second half of the 19th century. Peddlers and small shopkeepers sold their pattern glass items to families who were attracted to its functionality and affordability, but also to its beauty and artistic design. Over the years, many pieces become family heirlooms.

The number of early patterns of EAPG is estimated to be as high as 3,000 and include goblets, pitchers, egg cups, cordials, vases, door handles and compotes etc.

Each of her more than 300 item has its own story, she says, but her favorite is that first Open Rose goblet purchased at the flea market.

The Bonnie Penders Collection of Early American Pressed Glassware will remain at the Acton through mid-February. Residents with unusual collections or items to exhibit are invited to contact the Old Saybrook Historical Society.

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