Dear G.U.: There is something just a little bit racy about these plates, with their nude dancers gyrating with garlands and scarves around the outer edge. It is a bit hard to visualize people eating salads off these surfaces and gradually uncovering the cavorting figures as bits of lettuce, cucumber and tomato are systematically devoured.
Several companies made plates similar to these, but there is no doubt that this particular set was made by the Consolidated Lamp and Glass Co. of Coraopolis, Pa.
This firm was founded in 1893 (some sources say 1894) in a merger between the Fostoria Lamp and Shade Co. of Fostoria, Ohio, and the Wallace and McAfee Co., a glass jobber (basically a wholesaler) located in Pittsburgh.
The original manufacturing plant was in Fostoria, but when that facility burned down in 1895 the company built a new factory in Corapolis because there was a better supply of natural gas to fuel the glass furnaces. The company's bread and butter was glassware designed to be used in making lighting fixtures until 1925, when the company decided to add a giftware line.
One of the chief designers of Consolidated's new lines was Reuben Haley, who was greatly influenced by the glass displayed at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925. In particular, he was enamored of the work of the famous French jeweler and glassmaker Rene Lalique, and several of the pieces he designed for Consolidated were based on Lalique's work.
In 1926, Consolidated introduced their "Dancing Nymph" line, which was very much in the French Art Deco taste. It was designed by Reuben Haley's son Kenneth, and originally there were only a few different shapes made.
In the initial production from 1926 to 1932, the "Dancing Nymph" salad plates like the ones belonging to G.U. were often decorated with ceramic colors and had beveled and polished edges. The plant closed in 1932 and reopened in 1936, and the "Dancing Nymph" plates made after that date do not have the beveled and polished edges.
"Dancing Nymph" pieces can be found in a variety of colors amethyst, green, yellow, blue and pink as well as in frosted, clear and "French Crystal," which is a combination of clear and frosted. "Dancing Nymph" pieces are highly desired, and a set of eight frosted salad plates such as these are not easy to find. The insurance replacement value for this grouping is currently between $1,000 and $1,250.
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of Treasures in Your Attic (HarperCollins, $18). Questions can by mailed to them at P.O. Box 12208, Knoxville, TN 37912-0208.
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