Admiral Dewey Pitcher ReproducedBy Mark Chervenka
Admiral Dewey Pitcher Reproduced
Shown below (Fig. 1) is the reproduction Admiral Dewey water pitcher. The original pitcher (Fig. 2) was issued to commemorate the Spanish American War naval battle of Manila Bay fought May 1, 1898. It was made by the Beatty-Brady Glass Company of Steubenville and Dunkirk, Indiana, ca. 1899-1900.
Beatty-Brady made two vintage water pitchers featuring Dewey. The one being reproduced, Fig. 1, is generally known as the "Gridley pitcher" (even though it features Dewey). It so called because it is embossed with Dewey's command to Gridley, captain of the flagship Olympia, to begin firing on the Spanish fleet when ready (see Fig. 3). In addition to the quotation, the other prominent feature of this pitcher is a band of pointed artillery shells around the bottom of the pitcher.
There is only one known documented original in colored glass; all other documented original production found to date is in clear crystal. Reproductions are available in clear, amber, cobalt blue, ice blue and green. Wholesale price of all reproductions regardless of color is $12.50 each; clear originals average $90-$150. Reproductions in colors– listed as "rare"– have routinely sold for $150-$250 on eBay.
The best way to detect the reproductions is by examining details in the mold. The new spouts, for example, have a definite crease or fold in them directly above where they pass over the body of the pitcher (see Fig. 4). Old spouts form a seamless, smooth curve (Fig. 5) as they extend beyond the body of the original pitcher. Looking at the spouts from the side, you'll see that the new spout also extends about 1″ away from the body which is twice as far as the original spout which extends only about 1/2″ (see side views, Figs. 1 & 2).
The most obvious difference in the overall pattern is to the viewer's left of the Dewey portrait where a soldier stands holding a flag. In the original pitcher, there is a substantial gap, about 3/8″, between the wreath that frames Dewey's bust and the soldier's body (vertical arrow, Fig. 7). Note that the soldier's body touches the wreath in the new pitcher (Fig. 6).
Also check the position of the bottom of the American flag. In the original pitcher, the flag remains a considerable distance above the wreath (diagonal arrow, Fig. 7). In the new pitcher, the lower right hand corner of the new flag is firmly set within the wreath.
The original pattern has apparently been compressed to fit the slightly smaller new pitcher. As a result, many details in the reproduction are cramped, out of proportion and distorted. Don't be mislead by statements explaining such differences as "mold variations", or made in a "back up mold" or "retooled mold" or other such nonsense. All antique pressed glass originals of the same shape were virtually without exception made in only one mold. Original molds were occasionally repaired but the pattern or design was virtually never altered or changed unless there was a production problem related to the design.
Although the quality of the new glass is not as high as the original, this may not be obvious to all buyers. This is especially true if asking for a description of an item bought over the phone or the Internet.
The original clear pitcher fluoresces strong yellow green under long wave black light. The new pitcher has a very faint glow of washed out green which might be confusing. In this case, you would be better off to rely on differences in molded details rather than a black light test.