The Ugly Elephant|
Posting Number 3169 Date: 04/09/19 Return to Posting List
Makers: Sidney Waugh and Steuben Glass, c.1937
The Robert E. and Carol J. Nelson Collection at The Corning Museum of Glass
I was pleased to see Gail Bardhans Gazette on accessing pictures of the Nelson Collection. Bob Nelson was a great collector and his wife Carol was a willing accomplice. Once he began seriously collecting Steuben Animals he wanted ALL of them. He had a standing order at Steuben for all newly-issued Animals. However, he also wanted to acquire all Post-Carder Steuben Animals that had been discontinued before he started collecting. Bob turned to collecting Carder-period animals once he had most of the later pieces. He would acquire the same form in different colors if and when they turned up.
Bob had a Missing Animals List that he shared with his preferred dealers. If you had one of the animals Bob was missing, you were expected to call and hold it for him. I think I still have one of his old lists tucked into my copy of Madigan that showed he was missing six animals.
Many years ago Steuben hosted an exhibit of the highlights of the Nelson Collection at its New York showroom. I was invited to the opening of the exhibit. The previous week I had acquired one of the animals Bob was missing; a Shape 7780 Molded (or Cast) Elephant which we called the Ugly Elephant. It was rare because it was a bad design that did not sell well; it was discontinued shortly after it was introduced in 1937.
I brought the Ugly Elephant to the opening in a Steuben bag. When I walked in carrying the bag Bob was speaking with the President of Steuben. Bob introduced me to the President and asked what was in the bag. I told him it was the Ugly Elephant and the President of Steuben insisted that Steuben never made an Ugly Elephant. Bob unwrapped the elephant and the president asked if he could hold it. Bob asked him why and the president said he wanted to hold it so he could drop and break it because he agreed that it really was an Ugly Elephant.
Bob, being a gentleman as well as a serious collector, asked what he owed me for the Elephant. For the only time in over 30 years as a dealer I told a client what I had paid for a piece. I received Bobs check for my cost plus a modest profit several days later. Fortunately, I have never seen another example of the Ugly Elephant.
Followup To Glass Cleaning Article
Are there any recommendations for a glass "tumbling" business which is reputable and reasonable? The process in the article sounds interesting.
David P. Donaldson, MFA
Click to view image one: Ugly Elephant.jpeg
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