Story and favorite Christmas gift sharing time.
Looking back, it’s not really that much of a surprise that I ended up such a lover of antiques, vintage items, and the stories behind them. Both my grandmother and my mother are fans of having beautiful works of art and treasured objects in their homes (even though their styles are very different). I used to hate being dragged around to antique shops and auctions when I was a little girl; now I kind of can’t imagine anything better!
My grandmother and I especially bond over old objects. Years ago, when she visited me in SF, we drove out to the Alameda flea market one Sunday and happened to walk past a beat up set of mid-century tumbler/tea glasses and their original caddy. The set was kind of expensive and didn’t have a design I truly loved, but I happened to mention to my grandmother how much I wanted a set for my home. I just think they’re cool sets of a bygone era — you have these ornamental glasses, used for tea or cocktails, and a carrying rack to tote them around in, which often can have its own cool shape. You just don’t see things like this anymore!
The hard part, I have found, is finding a set that is 1) in good condition, 2) has all the pieces, and 3) has a design you actually like. Plus, these sets are just hard to find in general. If you type in “mid century tumbler glass set with caddy” into eBay or anything similar, you can find a few sets, but it’s tough to find one that meets the above criteria. Long story short, I’ve never found one that I liked enough to buy; plus, I never really wanted to buy one online anyway, as I think discovering these types of things when you’re out and about is what makes them true treasures.
Anyway, cut to this past Christmas.
My grandmother told me she had found something I had mentioned wanting years ago. I had no idea what it could be — until I opened the box and found the most perfect set of these glasses I could’ve ever dreamed of! The glasses have a beautiful, simple gold pattern on them, and have a surprisingly heavy weight — they feel substantial. The rack they come in is also a polished brass, with a smooth wood handle at the top. I honestly don’t think these glasses have ever been used.
“Where did you find a set like this?” I immediately had to ask her. Believe it or not, on a drive to Austin one day (my grandmother lives in Houston), she happened to pull off the road and stop in this little antique shop in the middle of nowhere — the kind of place that you pass for years and never think about wandering into, until one day, the impulse strikes. She walked in and immediately spotted these — there were actually two sets of these, underneath the register counter.
I love this for many reasons. One, I love that she found this thing I’d looked for in the middle of nowhere between the two cities I spent the most time in as a child. And two, I love that of all the sets she could’ve found and bought for me, it was this one — basically the exact design I would want if I could dream it up. I don’t think I ever imagined anyone could discover a set this pretty! Many of the sets you find are a little kitschy, and you sort of accept them that way. And three, of course, that she bought it at all, and I’ll have this set in my home forever — a really wonderful memory of this shared passion we have in common.
So, who made these glasses? My grandmother didn’t know and the shop owner didn’t either, so I didn’t think I’d ever really know the maker. But, as it has in the past, blogging led me in the right direction! Looking around for other mid century glass sets to share with you in this post, I found a set that had a similar serving caddy, which led me to the glassware company Culver Ltd. A little more Googling, and I discovered that my glasses were produced by Culver Ltd, which produced beautiful barware in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. I can’t even believe I could find this, but these glasses are from their Antigua line (a Culver Antigua highball set, to be exact). Pretty cool. Culver is a company with an interesting history; I even found an entire Pinterest board someone started, dedicated to their glassware.
The glasses arrived in the mail yesterday after my grandmother carefully had ’em packed up and shipped, and I got excited all over again when I opened the box…I just had to share the story with you! It was a truly wonderful gift.
And something else I just realized too: the table I photographed the glasses on above was one we found together on that exact trip to the Alameda flea market, when I mentioned these glass sets to my grandmother in the first place. When antique treasure hunts come full circle!