For the Love of the Treasure Hunt

culver antigua highball set

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!

mid century tea glass set - culver antigua glass

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. 

culver antigua glass mid century tea glass set with rack

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.

mid century tumblr set with rack - culver antigua glass

“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.

mid century tumblr set - culver antigua glass

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!

 

Images by Victoria McGinley

Leave a Comment

12 Comments

  1. 1.8.15
    Janel said:

    this is so sweet!! it was worth not giving in and just buying a set online- now the value of these glasses are so much greater

  2. 1.8.15
    Kate said:

    These are very beautiful. I kind of wish your grandmother had bought the second set and shipped it to me! :)

    -Kate
    http://www.theflorkens.com

  3. 1.8.15

    I love this story. First of all, they are BEAUTIFUL!! What a find! Go Grandma! Second, I feel like this is only something grandmothers would do. Bless them and their crazy memories!

  4. 1.8.15
    Sharona said:

    That’s such a special story – I loved reading it! I love grandmothers :)

  5. 1.8.15
    Allie said:

    What a great story – your grandmother sounds so thoughtful…how cute she remembered! I share a similar experience of being dragged around to antique stores/markets/auctions as a child…and I used to HATE it! My Grammy used to rent out space in several antique stores throughout the Eastern Shore, and was always looking for new treasures. I remember her dining room table being full of various objects she had found at flea markets, garage sales, and estate sales. Good memories!

    For any readers looking for a similar set, Room Service (an amazing vintage store in Austin) always has a few sets of these. I have yet to pick one up for myself, but scored an amazing barcart there for less than $100!

  6. 1.8.15

    I am OBSESSED with stories like these, and in all my crazy antiquing I am still searching for my “perfect” set of bar glasses — I don’t want to settle for one I just like. These are perfect, and the story behind them is amazing too.

    x Lily
    http://whilemyboyfriendsaway.blogspot.com/

  7. 1.8.15
    Erica said:

    What a lovely gift and story. The best gifts are those with history behind them. Your grandmother sounds fabulous!

  8. 1.8.15
    Kathleen said:

    Such pretty glasses. Great post!
    <3
    katsfashionfix.blogspot.com

  9. 1.9.15
    Agoprime said:

    wonderful glasses
    http://www.agoprime.it

  10. 1.9.15
    AnnMarie said:

    Such a great gift and story! Those glasses are perfect. I just did a quick etsy search off the link you posted and they made so many cool glasses (fyi, you may have seen this already but here are two of the same style as yours in case you want to order for backup): https://www.etsy.com/listing/216179539/vintage-culver-antigua-gold-crackle?ref=sr_gallery_23&ga_search_query=Culver+tumbler&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery)

  11. 1.9.15
    Rose said:

    I adore this story, and have had many similar experiences! Vintage/antique/flea market hunting has led to some of my best wares over the years (including a beautiful mirrored, crystal and glass jewelry case, many beautiful elephant figurines that I collect and a set of irish coffee glasses with a copper base).

  12. 1.23.15
    Jeanne said:

    My mother had eight of these tall glasses and four of the small size, which her mother had bought in the 1960’s and she inherited. Grandma K died in 1978; Mom died in 2001 and the glasses have been in my china cabinet the last 14 years, used occasionally for special guests. When my husband accidentally broke a glass last week, I was determined to replace it and, sure enough, found it on eBay. The newbie is not as special as the “originals” but I can continue to serve special guests with a full set and always remember Mom and Grandma lovingly when I do.

Subscribe to the newsletter

No spam, only goodness. I send occasional newsletters filled with my favorite links, great reads, and personal updates.