RUSHVILLE — Retro is all the rage: People love having a piece of history all to themselves, and with a collection from a retired Ohio University professor up for auction next week, they’ll have their luck.
The collection includes over 3,000 pieces of glassware, sourced from Gay Fad Studios and Anchor Hocking Glass.
There are full sets of pitchers and mugs, as well as barware like carafes and glasses. The lot will go on sale at Mike Clum Auctions Inc. on April 28.
Mike Clum, owner of the auction house, said he’s seen Gay Fad glassware over the years, but it has to be the largest collection his company has seen.
“I’ve been in the business since 1968. I started with my wife, and after she went to heaven five years ago, my daughter took her place. Now it’s a family business with my daughter, her husband and my grandson,” Clum said. “We’ve had a lot of farm sales here over the years, and there have been a few Gay Fad glasses, but nothing like that.”
Gay Fad Studios was founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1939, before founder Fran Taylor moved operations to Lancaster in 1945. At first, Taylor hand-painted metal trash cans and other household items, then resold them to department stores for resale.
Due to the World War II metal shortage, she switched to painting on glass. The workshop painted goblets, carafes, pitchers and other glassware. Demand for the product increased and Gay Fad took off in Lancaster.
According to USA Today records, Taylor and company were featured in the June 1947 issue of the American magazine. She was quoted to say that she moved to Lancaster because she “loved [the] best in town.”
The studio was located at 220 Pierce Ave, with 50 employees, including 16 artists. “Hand-decorated glassware”, including goblets of all sizes, bowls and pitchers, was the studio’s specialty. The studio operated until 1963.
There are complete sets of drinking glasses that include their original packaging. Clum speculated that some collectors would appreciate the original packaging for its authenticity, but most of the collection lacks it.
“My grandson and son-in-law went to western Indiana to pick up this glassware. I was worried I’d need to go to the store and buy a few shovels to pick up all the broken glass, but (the owner) Dr. McGrady’s friends had done a great job packing them, almost too well,” Clum remarked. “They arrived in great shape and we had to unpack them.”
He added that he was unsure of the success of the pieces once auctioned: in the past, Gay Fad studios were not particularly popular.
“But I had a few customers coming in looking for other pieces they had purchased, and when they saw it, they showed me all kinds of online posts looking for Gay Fad Studios pieces. prices that people are looking for for these ‘retro’ pieces are crazy, I was definitely surprised,” Clum said. “I really think it’s good to be a part of it, in addition to continuing to work with my family.”
On the 27th, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the doors to the auction house open at 7 a.m. on Thursdays and sales begin at 9 a.m.
Clum said there will be multiple auctioneers, but only one will focus on glassware.
“The other auctioneer will focus on the other items we have for sale, so buyers won’t have to rush between sales to get the pieces they want. The sale could last up to 4 p.m., but should not exceed 6:30 p.m., even though it has happened in the past,” he said. “Buyers will register at the window inside and receive their auction number, and that window is where they will pay.”
More information can be found online at the auction house’s website.
Barrett Lawlis is a reporter for the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, part of the USA Today Network. You can share story ideas or comments with him at 740-681-4342 or email [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BarrettLawlis