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Gay Fad Studios

Gay Fad Studios

When I first started researching Gay Fad, the earliest reference I found was an excerpt from a 1949 book by Polly Webster, How to Make Money at Home. In Chapter 4:, Money in Your Hands, this fascinating little tidbit appeared:

Her friends said she was foolhardy, but that didn't stop an Ohio woman who, ten years ago, 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 Studio. Today she grosses several thousand dollars each year with her painted glass and tin trays, canisters, and bowls. The Gay Fad Studio is big business that grew out of a simple idea; but remember, it got its start as a home industry ten years ago when enamel painting was new. Today such painting is a fairly widespread pin-money venture. But women who have specialized in one article have been able to make a living at it.

Fran TaylorWow!! But why couldn’t Polly tell us the name of this early female entrepreneur??? That mystery was solved when a lovely lady named Pat sent us an email identifying her aunt, Fran Taylor, as the founder of Gay Fad Studios. At the time she first wrote to us, Pat had a mystery of her own to solve, and this led to a positively amazing series of emails, a heartwarming family reunion, and extensive discussions about Fran Taylor and Gay Fad Studios. By now, we practically have a blog and it just keeps growing! It’s great reading that you’re sure to enjoy, so click here. Pat even steered me to a Women’s History website where I found this picture of Fran and the bio written by  her daughter Stephanie.

Fran Taylor worked from home from 1938-1945 hand decorating those wastebaskets and other tin items, as well as an ever increasing number of glass pieces. She opened Gay Fad Studios in Lancaster, Ohio, in 1945, and for the next 18 years Gay Fad was one of the best known and most prolific decorating companies in the country. Pin money venture?? Hardly! Fran and her staff did extensive decorating work on “blanks” purchased from Anchor Hocking, Hazel Atlas, Federal Glass, and Imperial Glass, among others. However, few of the Gay Fad pieces were marked (many carried paper labels that were immediately taken off or became lost over the years), and this has led to a great deal of confusion as to which pieces were actually decorated by Gay Fad and which were decorated by other companies in the “Gay Fad style.” On the marked pieces, I’ve found five versions of the Gay Fad signature so far and there may be others. The mark, however, seems to be consistent, an interlocking G and backward F in whatever color coordinated with the overall design.

Fran Taylor was an amazingly talented and versatile artist and her pieces run the gamut from colorful fruits and flowers to people and cartoon characters to geometrics to 2-color state souvenir glasses to elaborate full-color Currier & Ives scenes. All are beautiful and all are eagerly sought after by collectors today. Here at the Trading Post we continue to seek out Gay Fad pieces that demonstrate Fran Taylor’s wide range of artistic endeavors. She and her family have become very special to us. Enjoy!

In 2010 the Ohio Glass Museum in Lancaster, OH held the first ever major Gay Fad exhibit entitled The Artistry of Gay Fad. Ol’ Swaphos and I were privileged to attend the Opening Gala. Click here to see photos!

Set of 8 “The Beast in Me” tumblers

This waaaaay cool set of eight tumblers is in Gay Fad’s “Beast in Me” design introduced in the 1958 Gay Fad Barware Illustrated Price List. Each clear glass tumbler features a cartoon beast, two in turquoise (bear and octopus), two in yellow-green (jackass and deer), two in siamese pink (monkey and cat), and two in golden yellow (lion and wolf), with “the beast in me” in a banner underneath. Kitchy, of course, but also amazingly beautiful given the 24 k gold portion of each banner and the gold cocktail glass or bottle held by each beast. Each tumbler is signed, with the Gay Fad signature done in the same color as that tumbler’s beast. I’ve never before seen a set of eight signed Gay Fad glasses where the signature color varies from glass to glass! Tumblers stand a shade over 5-1/2" tall with diameters of 2-3/4" at their rims and 2-3/8" at their heavy weighted bottoms. All eight tumblers are in pristine condition and look like they’ve never been used. No nicks, chips, cracks, scratches, or color loss. Truly an outstanding set of Gay Fad glassware! As an added bonus, we will include the page from Gay Fad: Fran Taylor’s Extraordinary Legacy where this design is shown. Require hand washing to preserve the paint, especially the gold. (Click on picture for more images.) Tell a friend.

Price: $175.00 + s/h and insurance

** SOLD **

 

Set of 5 Gay Fad “Autumn Nocturne” tumblers

This set of five tumblers is in Gay Fad’s beautiful “Autumn Nocturne” design composed of a variety of orange, black, and gold autumn leaves and an acorn, all on a completely frosted background. The “Autumn Nocturne” design first appeared in the 1954 Gay Fad catalog and is shown in Volume 1, page 36 of our books. These tumblers stand 5-1/2" tall with diameters of 2-3/4" at their rims and 2-1/4" at their bases. Bottoms carry the Hazel Atlas mark. All are in perfect condition with no nicks, chips, cracks, or loss of color. Require hand washing to preserve the paint and the frosting. As an added bonus, we will include the page from Gay Fad: Fran Taylor’s Extraordinary Legacy where this design is shown. (Click on picture for more images.) Tell a friend.

Price: $100.00 + s/h and insurance

 

  only 1 set available

 

Set of 8 Gay Fad “Currier & Ives” glasses

Eureka! We finally found them! A complete set of the eight Currier & Ives glasses hand-decorated by Gay Fad Studios on Hazel Atlas “blanks” in the 1950's! These are beautiful heavy satin glass tumblers that stand 5-3/4" tall with diameters of 3" at the mouth and 2-1/8" at the base. The highly detailed full-color scenes wrap 3/4 of the way around the glasses, making it impossible for photos to do them justice. Glass names are in accordance with the Currier & Ives prints on which they were based.

Loading Cotton on the Mississippi: The New Orleans Packet Eclipse, an old sternwheeler belching smoke from its two stacks and flying the American flag aft waits at a dock on the Mississippi while men load bales of cotton into it. Trees and a plantation house in the background.

Star of the Road: A 19th Century lady in period clothing and a bonnet rides in her carriage, urging her galloping horse onward down the road from a large house surrounded by trees. An embankment on the far side of the road is topped by a fence, with mountains in the background.

Home to Thanksgiving: A visitor alights from his horse-drawn carriage and steps up on the roofed porch of a log cabin where the lady and gentleman of the house have come out the front door to greet him. A groom in front of an ox-drawn sled waits to take the horse to the large barn where a man has opened the wide door, revealing a large haystack inside. Trees and an additional large haystack in the background.

Winter in the Country - Getting Ice: An ice shed sits at the left of a frozen mountain lake where a horse hitched to a sled stands patiently at the shore waiting for four men to finish chopping ice out of the lake and loading it onto the sled. Mountains, trees, and a house in the background.

The Partridge Shoot: Two hunters in 19th Century clothing and helmets converse while one of them reloads his long-barreled gun. Several birds lie on the ground in the forefront and two bird dogs wait for the shooting to recommence. Trees, bushes, and rocks all around.

The Morning Recreation: A 19th Century couple in period clothing and top hats stroll at the edge of a lake surrounded by trees and foliage. In the background, a large building flies a flag from its tower.

Central Park, Winter - The Skating Pond: Two 19th Century couples in period clothing enjoy the ice of a pond in front of a large house surrounded by trees. One couple is ice skating and the other lady is riding in a sled being pushed across the ice by her companion. A small dog in the forefront tries out his skating abilities, too.

The Express Train: A locomotive emerges from under a bridge, chugging down the track with steam billowing from its smokestack. Trees and bushes on both sides of the track and an embankment on the far side.

All scenes are in full color and surrounded by brown filigree, with “Currier & Ives” at the left bottom. Royal China Company of Sebring, Ohio introduced their Currier & Ives dinnerware in 1950. Pieces was given away as premiums at A&P grocery stores, with extra pieces available to complete the set, and the set was also sold in department stores. Hazel Atlas and Federal produced the glasses, and Gay Fad did the frosting and hand-decorating on blanks from both companies, advertising their Currier & Ives line of glassware in the 1951-52 Gay Fad catalog. As you probably know, Currier & Ives was the legendary printmaking firm that created exceptionally popular iconic 19th-century American art from 1834 – 1907. Nathaniel Currier (1813 – 1888) became nationally renowned when his prints of current events appeared in the New York Sun, the first illustrated newspaper ever published. Currier soon partnered with bookkeeper James Merritt Ives (1824 – 1895) and the firm garnered acclaim for their beautifully crafted affordable lithographs of scenes from American life. Currier and Ives, who employed a staff of artists and an assembly line of female colorists, produced more than 1 million prints which are still cherished today.

These beautiful Gay Fad Currier & Ives glasses are in outstanding condition with no nicks, chips, cracks, scratching, or paint loss. Someone obviously took very good care of them over the decades, and you need to be sure to hand wash them. Putting them in the dishwasher ruins the finish! It’s almost impossible to find a complete set of these glasses, so here’s a rare opportunity to have all eight of them. But should you already have a few of these glasses and need to complete your set, see our individual glasses. (Click on picture for more images.) Tell a friend.

Price: $125.00 for the set + s/h and insurance

** SOLD **

 

Gay Fad “Silver Fantasy” 4-pc chip dip set

This beautiful Gay Fad Silver Fantasy chip dip set gives new meaning to the words “understated elegance.” Sterling silver bands grace the rims of a large bowl, small bowl, and toothpick holder, the latter two securely held in place by a removable lucite holder that clips to the large bowl without damaging its silver. Silver Fantasy pieces, available with platinum bands as well as sterling silver bands, are very scarce since Gay Fad introduced the design in 1961, only a year before going out of business. Large heavy bowl stands 4-3/4" tall with diameters of 10-1/4" at its 1" silver rim and just shy of 3-1/4" at its base ring. Small bowl stands 2-3/8" tall with diameters of 5-3/8" at its 1/2" silver rim and 2-1/4" at its base ring. Toothpick holder stands 2-3/4" tall with diameters of 1-3/4" at its 3/4" silver rim and 1-1/4" at its thick glass base. Curved lucite holder is 6-1/4" long. Large bowl is a master at multi-tasking and can also be used as a punch bowl, salad bowl, or gorgeous centerpiece when filled with fruit, flowers, or mini Christmas ornaments. All three glass pieces are in perfect condition with no nicks, chips, cracks, scratches, or silver loss. No nicks or scratches on the lucite holder, either. Set requires TLC, hand washing, and an occasional polishing to keep it in its pristine condition, but the results are well worth the effort. Heirloom quality glassware to be used with pride and passed down for generations! As an added bonus, we will include the page from Gay Fad: Fran Taylor’s Extraordinary Legacy where this design is shown. (Click on picture for more images.) Tell a friend.

Price: $150.00 + s/h and insurance

 

  only 1 set available

 

Set of 4 Gay Fad “Bartender” decanters

What a find! A complete set of Gay Fad’s Bartender decanters first introduced in 1953! The front panels of these 7" tall (9" tall with stoppers)  x 3-1/4" square decanters feature a beleaguered bartender attempting to serve drinks while being harassed by a pesky fly. Each one is different. On the Gin decanter, he’s holding three foaming mugs of beer in each hand while the fly buzzes around his head. On the Rye decanter, the fly has landed on his tray, tipping over the cocktail glass and causing him to also drop the bottle in his other hand. On the Scotch decanter, the fly has landed on his nose, again causing him to overturn a tray full of cocktail glasses, but at least the bottle in his other hand is still safe. On the Bourbon decanter, a cat joins the destructive fun by tripping him while the fly attacks one of the glasses on his tray. As Gay Fad’s ad in the July 1953 issue of Gift and Art Buyer says, the bartender is “a happy, carefree gent with a special knack for being the ‘laugh of the bar-ty!’” Colors are red, yellow, and black on a completely frosted background. Sides, backs, and bottoms have a quilted diamonds pattern surrounded by diagonal “stripes,” while their front panels, mitered corners, and tops are unpatterned. Large 2-1/4" diameter stoppers are clear glass and completely covered in the quilted diamonds pattern. All four decanters are in superb vintage condition and look like they’ve never been used. There are no nicks, chips, cracks, scratching, or paint loss. Require hand washing to preserve the finish and paint. All stoppers fit snugly, although the cork casing on one of them is disintegrating with age.  As an added bonus, we will include the page from Gay Fad: Fran Taylor’s Extraordinary Legacy where this design is shown. (Click on picture for more images.) Tell a friend.

Price: $120.00 for the set + s/h and insurance

 

  only 1 set available

 

Set of 4 Gay Fad “Beau Brummel” cocktail glasses

This is a set of 4 absolutely delightful “Beau Brummel” cocktail glasses handpainted by Gay Fad Studios. Standing 5-1/2" tall, the front of each 3-1/2 oz cocktail glass depicts Beau’s face with a decidedly tipsy expression and a lock of orangish-brown hair falling over his forehead. Long faceted stem descends to a 2-3/4" diameter slightly concave base. The 1951 Gay Fad catalog features the Beau Brummel design and says “Gay Fad’s original hand decorated drinkware will enhance any home bar and add merriment and sparkle to all occasions. Each stunning decoration has been styled by Gay Fad’s own design staff, expertly hand decorated by skilled artists and ceramic fired for permanence.” All four of our glasses are in perfect condition with no nicks, chips, cracks, or paint loss. Be sure to hand wash them to keep them this way! As an added bonus, we will include the page from Gay Fad: Fran Taylor’s Extraordinary Legacy where this design is shown. If you already have a few of these glasses and need to complete your set, see our individual Beau Brummel glass. (Click on picture for more images.) Tell a friend.

Price: $60.00 for the set + s/h and insurance

 

  only 1 set available

 

Set of 4 Gay Fad “Beau Brummel” bent stem cocktail glasses

Bet you didn’t know that there are two versions of Gay Fad’s “Beau Brummel” design, but there are – and here is the second one! On this set of four cocktail glasses, Beau’s face has a different nose and mouth than he has on the set listed immediately above, plus his hair is yellow rather than orangish-brown. You’ll also notice that these cocktail glasses have bent stems. The story goes that Gay Fad’s first bent-stem cocktail glasses were an “oops!” caused by a malfunctioning firing oven that overheated to the point where it melted the glass and bent the stems. But rather than discarding the distorted glasses, Fran Taylor decided she liked the look and a whole new line of bent-stem glasses was born! In fact, the 1951 Gay Fad catalog urges buyers to “Add hilarity to the party! Serve the third round of drinks in bent and distorted Beau Brummels – the first two rounds in the clever straight stemmed ones.” How’s that for making lemonade out of lemons? These glasses stand 6" tall at their “up” sides and 4-3/4" tall at their “down” sides. The faceted stems descend to a 2-3/4" diameter slightly concave base. All four of our glasses are in perfect condition with no nicks, chips, cracks, or paint loss. Be sure to hand wash them to keep them this way! As an added bonus, we will include the page from Gay Fad: Fran Taylor’s Extraordinary Legacy where this design is shown. (Click on picture for more images.) Tell a friend.

Price: $60.00 for the set + s/h and insurance

 

  only 1 set available

 

Pair of signed Gay Fad “Beau Brummel” cocktail glasses

Now you can have a pair of signed “Beau Brummel” cocktail glasses, one with a straight stem, the other with a bent stem. These are the yellow hair version of Beau. Both glasses are in perfect condition with no nicks, chips, cracks, or paint loss. Be sure to hand wash them to keep them this way! As an added bonus, we will include the page from Gay Fad: Fran Taylor’s Extraordinary Legacy where this design is shown.  (Click on picture for more images.) Tell a friend.

Price: $30.00 + s/h and insurance

** SOLD **

 

Set of 7 “Official Seals” tumblers

This set of tumblers is in Gay Fad’s gorgeous gold and black “Official Seals” design introduced in Gay Fad’s ad in the August, 1956 edition of Gift and Art Buyer. Each tumbler features the official seal of six states, three in black on a gold square and three in gold on a black square. Each tumbler is marked with a Roman Numeral and has the following state seals:

I - New York, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland
II - Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut
III - North Carolina, Kentucky, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia
IV - Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia
V - Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan
VI - Nebraska, Oklahoma, Minnesota, South Dakota, Kansas, North Dakota
VII - Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana, Texas

These tumblers were originally sold as a set of eight, but sadly, we’re missing the VIII tumbler that contains the seals of Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. (Remember, neither Alaska nor Hawaii was a state in 1956, so they’re not included in this set. Alaska became a state on January 3, 1959 and Hawaii became a state on August 21, 1959.)

These tumblers have heavy weighted bottoms and stand 5-5/8" tall with diameters of 2-3/4". All are in great vintage condition with no nicks, chips, or cracks and only slight color loss to a few of the gold squares. As an added bonus, we will include the page from Gay Fad: Fran Taylor’s Extraordinary Legacy where this design is shown. These tumblers require hand washing. Putting them in the dishwasher will ruin the gold paint! (Click on picture for more images.) Tell a friend.

Price: $100.00 for the set + s/h and insurance

 

  only 1 set available

 

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