I was wondering if you might know if there is a list of artists who worked at the Gay Fad Studios. I have a cookie jar signed Pokee' . The scene is of Hansel and Gretel. The cookie jar is frosted white with a brown lid, the scene is also in brown. I have attached a few pictures, not the greatest photos, but I think you can see what I'm talking about. Any info would be appreciated.
Thank you for your time,
When I looked at your photo, the Hansel and Gretel design just didn’t look like a Gay Fad design to me, so I’ve done some more research on Gay Fad Studios. From what I can determine, your cookie jar was made by Bartlett Collins, an Oklahoma glass company that is still in business today. As you probably know, Gay Fad Studios was located in Lancaster, Ohio, and although I’ve discovered that they decorated Anchor Hocking, Hazel Atlas, and Federal blanks, I’ve never found a connection between Gay Fad and Bartlett Collins. Today I found this cookie jar for sale online. The seller says it was made by Bartlett Collins and “these cookie jars have, at times, been mistakenly referred to as Anchor Hocking Fire King due to the Gay Fad design.” Frankly, I don’t think this is a Gay Fad design either, although it is similar in style. I’ve found absolutely nothing about an artist named Pokee.
Fran Taylor started Gay Fad Studios in the mid 1940's, and if you’ve read our Gay Fad email pages, you know that we have heard from Fran’s daughter and two of her nieces. I’ve emailed these ladies to see if they might have a list of the artists who worked for Gay Fad or any information about the Hansel and Gretel design. If they do, I’ll certainly let you know. In the meantime, I’ve added your email and photo to that page.
Hi Stephanie, Pat, and Rose,
How are you coming on the Gay Fad history? I’m sure a lot of people – not just me – would love to know more about Fran Taylor and Gay Fad.
For instance, we got an email from Kim, another SFTP site visitor, who’s wondering if there’s a list of the artists who worked for Gay Fad. She has a frosted glass cookie jar, photo attached, with a Hansel and Gretel design that she believes to be by Gay Fad. The artist’s signature is Pokee’. I’ve been unable to discover anything about this artist or even to verify that Gay Fad ever had a Hansel and Gretel design. However, I did discover that the cookie jar was produced by Bartlett Collins, an Oklahoma glass company.
So, I’m turning to you three experts! Any chance you might have some answers for Kim?
Hope everything is going well with all of you, and I do hope you’re working on that history!
Dear Miss Kitty,
Thank you so much for your email! I've had a chance to visit with my amazing cousin several times since last summer. She has a delightful family and a practice focusing on Women's Health. She is also a Tai Chi master! I was fascinated by a lovely glass serving tray that Stephanie had created in her Mother's Gay Fad studio and that is now displayed in her China cabinet.
There is a page on Fran Taylor at the National Women's History Museum website. It is in the Chronicles of American Women section. Stephanie did a nice job of writing a mini bio. I have also located the site by Googling: Gay Fad Fran Taylor.
My brother ordered a disk on “The Gay Fad Studios” from a P.L. Hopper who has the Anchor Hocking Glass Museum in San Antonio, TX. I found the information on the disk fascinating. I believe a lot of the information came from a Mrs. McGrady who was an avid Gay Fad collector. The disk not only has pictures of many of the patterns of glass products produced over the years but photocopies of business related papers as well. Mrs. McGrady may have knowledge of the artists who worked for the Gay Fad Studios. Aunt Fran had great talent as a designer and business woman.
I recall my Mother referring to Aunt Fran's business as one specializing in "frosted" glassware at one period of time. Also, Aunt Fran invented a silk screening process that worked well on the glass blanks that she purchased. On a number of pieces, it appears hand detailing was applied after silk screening. I don't know the chronological order of these various steps through the years.
My boyfriend ordered a 1949 book from Amazon titled, “How to Make Money at Home” by Polly Webster which references Gay Fad Studios on page 82. It begins, “Her friends said she was foolhardy, but that didn't stop an Ohio woman who gave up dress designing and bought twelve dozen tin wastebaskets for thirty dollars. She went to work painting them with bright oil paints and opened the Gay Fad Studios.”
Fran's oldest brother, Joe, was my father. He was an engineer and businessman. As a wedding gift for him in 1941, Fran painted flowers on frosted glass cylinders which were signed and made into lamps. I even came across a hand painted metal (tin?) recipe box which my Mother used over the years.
Another interesting reference to Gay Fad is in a lovely book, “Designed & Signed” ('50s & '60s Glass, Ceramics, & Enamel Wares) by Leslie Pina, 1996. Although the book is largely a tribute to Russian/Polish immigrant Jascha Brojdo (Georges Briard), Chapter 5 contains pictures and a tribute to Fran Taylor's Gay Fad Studios.
I am not aware of any cookie jars produced by the Gay Fad Studios of Lancaster, Ohio. I know a lot of Bartlett Collins items show up on the eBbay site under the phrase Gay Fad. Bartlett Collins may have had a pattern that I thought I came across once called Gay Fad? If so, that may have led to a bit of confusion.
The cookie jar you sent a picture of is lovely. The fact that it is frosted glass and appears to be silk screened (?) makes me wonder if there was “cross pollination” among the various glass companies? Perhaps Mr. Hopper might know who Pokee was?
Thank you for your marvelous email! I don’t have to tell you what a fascinating person your Aunt Fran was, and every time I get on one of these Gay Fad research kicks, I wind up with a whole bunch of new nuggets that even then doesn’t tell her full story. It’s just never-ending! I found the National Women's History Museum website you mentioned and was so happy to find a picture of Fran Taylor. Wow! Not only was she smart, talented, and entrepreneurial, she was also beautiful! [Note to readers: that site is www.nwhm.org/get-involved/chronicles/women/fran-taylor/ ]
When I did my original research on Gay Fad, I found that excerpt from Polly Webster’s 1949 book online. What bugged me about it was that she never identified your aunt by name. You’re the one who solved that mystery in your very first email to us. We’ve all sure come a long way since then, haven’t we?
It’s also interesting that you mention the information from Mrs. McGrady on the Gay Fad CD your brother got from the Anchor Hocking Glass Museum in San Antonio, TX. Prior to receiving your latest email I’d discovered a blog site with the following entry from a Donna McGrady:
“I am a long time Gay Fad researcher and collector. I find it interesting that many collectors are confusing hand painted fruits done by Bartlett Collins Company with Gay Fad fruits. Gay Fad never decorated any cookie jars that I'm aware of. Gay Fad hand painted the fruits on Hazel Atlas plates as well as on Fire King. As most collectors know, Gay Fad was a hand decorating company and used blanks from several different companies for their beautiful decorations. For "hardcore" Gay Fad collectors there's much Gay Fad out there that's not on Fire King.”
I think your speculation about “cross pollination” among the glass companies is dead on. As for Bartlett Collins, I found out some more about them. They were a division of Indiana Glass and located in Sapulpa, OK. They went out of business in February of 2008. Whatever other kinds of glass pieces they produced, they made lots of cookie jars, both clear glass and frosted glass. I found a website offering this yellow one for sale, saying “Although made by Bartlett Collins, it is often categorized with the Fire-King Gay Fad patterns.” Considering that the artwork is strikingly similar to that of your aunt’s Gay Fad Studios, I’d say “cross pollination” is a very polite term for you to use!
Regarding Gay Fad’s “frosted” period your mother remembered, I’ve recently found a couple of new nuggets. Gay Fad had a “Gay Nineties” line of glassware that included these Hazel Atlas whiskey decanters.
I also ran across a website featuring Gay Fad frosted Currier & Ives glasses with the following information:
“These glasses were hand painted by Gay Fad Studios in Lancaster, Ohio owned by Fran Taylor. Their work has become some of the most highly prized in the Kitchen Glass category. These glasses were made as an accessory to all colors used for the Currier & Ives china. We are only aware of 8 different C&I scenes on the glasses.”
Royal China Company of Sebring, Ohio introduced their Currier & Ives dinnerware in 1950. It was given away as premiums at A&P grocery stores, with extra pieces available to complete the set, and it was also sold at department stores. Both Hazel Atlas and Federal Glass produced the coordinating glasses, and Gay Fad did the frosting and artwork on blanks from both companies. The glasses are in three color combinations: pink and white, blue and white, and multi-colored as shown in the photo.
By any chance does that lamp your aunt created as a wedding gift for your parents still exist? Could you possibly send me a photo of it? Likewise with your mother’s recipe box. I’d love to see those one-of-a-kind family treasures your Aunt Fran created.
Thanks again for your latest email. As always, it’s a pleasure to hear from you, and of course I’ve added everything to our Gay Fad emails page. At the rate we’re going, our SFTP site may itself become a great resource for Gay Fad collectors!