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Matsu-no-kee

     Mat-Su-No-Ke, (properly pronounced today “Matsue Nokay” and written as Matsu Noke), written by Stevens and Williams as "Matsu-No-Kee" in an advisement as of March 1, 1887, "The Pottery Gazette".  It is a decorating style or motif.  Matsu Noke translates as The Spirit of the Pine Tree.   In addition to MATSU-NO-KEE it can also be found written as and Matsu No Ke.  It is not a type of glass.  Japanese decorative styles then in vogue was the influence behind Stevens and Williams Mat-Su-No-Ke motifs.  

This was written to provide glass collectors, mainly rose bowl and fairy lamp collectors, an accurate definition or description of what constitutes a Mat-Su-No-Ke.  The term Mat-Su-No-Ke is frequently misapplied to many pieces of glass today.  There were many glasshouses that tried to copy or emulate the true Stevens and Williams Mat-Su-No-Ke registered design pattern, Rd #15353.   

Kovels states that “Matsu-no-ke was a type of applied decoration for glass patented by Frederick Carter in 1922.  There is clear evidence that pieces were made before that date at the Steuben Glassworks.  Stevens & Williams of England also made an applied decoration by the same name.”  Several other articles state: “The decoration was used in 1922 by Frederick Carter at the Steuben Glassworks.  He had developed the decoration years earlier while working in England.” 

The reality is Frederick Carder (at the age 17) joined the firm of Stevens and Williams in their design section as an apprentice in 1880.  John Northwood became "Artistic Manager" two years later in 1882.  At that time, Stevens and Williams then started producing several innovative and beautiful types of colored glass in addition to their traditional cut and engraved crystal.

In 1885, John Northwood I, father of Harry Northwood (the founder of Northwood Glass Co.), was the Artistic Manager of Stevens and Williams Ltd. of England.  He invented and received a Patent for spring pinchers and a stamping device (see below) that allowed for quick application of flowers or rosettes / florets, notably for Mat-Su-No-Ke vases and bowls.  It is highly unlikely that Frederick Carder was responsible for the creation of the Mat-Su-No-Ke decorating motif.  It is more probable he learned about this glass decorating technique while working for Stevens and Williams and later copied it. 

The Mat-Su-No-Ke design pattern was registered on October 18, 1884 by Stevens and Williams under the English Rd #15353.  Stevens & Williams was likely the first and only glassmaker to use the term “Mat-Su-No-Ke” commercially.  However, other English glassworks produced similar designs. In some cases, their floral patterns were very similar to S&W’s registered Mat-Su-No-Ke.  These English glasshouses include Thomas Webb & Sons Ltd., John Walsh Walsh, James Powel, Hodgett & Richardson, Stuart & Sons, Burtles, Tate & Co., Boulton Mills (possibly), and other fine Stourbridge / Bringham regional Victorian glasshouses. Believe it or not, Stevens and Williams also made pseudo Mat-Su-No-Ke pieces.  It is also likely that Bohemian glasshouses produced almost identical or similar designs.

We don’t know if Stevens & Williams had exclusive rights to the Name itself, but many within the collecting community believe that they did.  Period documentation seem to support this.  In a copies of The Pottery Gazette from both the months of March and April, 1887, Stevens and Williams published a full page advertisement stating they were the "SOLE MAKERS OF DAMASCENED GLASS, MATSU-NO-KEE, ACANTHUS, &c. &c."  The Matsu-No-Kee was a registered design but it appears that John Northwood’s Patent only included the tools, not the process itself.  In our opinion, it is unlikely that the Patent included the process, since appliqué glass had been around many years prior to the Northwood’s Patent.  Northwood’s tools simply made the manufacturing process more efficient and cost effective.  We do know that the design was registered before the tools were patented.  It appears the designed necessitated the tools to be manufactured.   

Northwood’s patented tools lent themselves to a variety of motifs and were not exclusively used for typical Mat-Su-No-Ke designs.  However, we must not forget that Northwood was an artistic designer primarily and then later designed tools to effectively produce the glass designs.  It is logical that the required tools were created after a need was envisioned.  In the 1800s, Patents in the country of issuance have some merit and strength for enforcement; outside of the country of issuance, they were unenforceable.  If any foreign glasshouses thought that their production could be enhanced by the use of knock-off tools, they were in use as soon as they could be made. 

As per John Scherz, a fellow researcher and glass aficionado, Stevens and Williams only produced Mat-Su-No-Ke decorated glass for a period of one year, starting in 1894 and ending in 1895.  This was due to the high manufacturing costs of this type of glass and inordinately high failure rates in production.  Problems included the overall complexity of placing the stylized daisy head blossoms with Northwood’s “syringe” and the application of the highly stylized “rustic” legs and delicate trailing vines on top of usually Cased Glass or Tri-Cased Glass.  We must remember all work was completed by hand.  The glass was in a molten to semi-molten state.  The differences in cooling rate between the bowl and the appliqué glass created problems.  After final assembly the glass had to survive tempering in the lehrs, (annealing oven).            

Today, the term, Mat-Su-No-Ke is often incorrectly applied to many pieces of glass that exhibit some parts of the Stevens and Williams Mat-Su-No-Ke style or motif, regardless of the maker.  At times, the term is applied to pieces with applied glass decorations that do not remotely resemble the true Mat-Su design. 

To the best of our knowledge, there are no written Stevens and Williams’ factory  specifications for the Mat-Su-No-Ke motif.  However, the original pattern application and design sketch are still in existence.  We have attempted to describe this decorative style or motif by observations of known, confirmed Stevens and Williams’ pieces and their common characteristics, in addition to the English pattern registration.  At the bottom of this write-up, we have developed a quick check list for Mat-Su-No-Ke confirmation.  At the end of this document you will see several photographic examples of true Stevens and Williams Mau-Su-No-Ke and examples of miss-identified pieces of glass. 

 Requirements of a Mat-Su-No-Ke

A registered pattern Mat-Su-No-Ke will have branches or vines for feet normally (there exists a few known examples that have S&W pattern rustic ball feet in place of vines for the feet.  This may have been an attempt at simplifying the manufacturing processThe vine feet are always in the form of rustic oblique looping design.  The vines or branches will scroll up the side of the vase and are covered with numerous small flowers or florets at the end in multiple sprays.  All the florets, vines, and branches will be made of clear or frosted glass, never colored glass.  The florets may be individual or in groups of two, three or more.  They may be in multiple layers of florets stacked overlapping and on top of each other.  The Stevens and Williams registration sketch illustrates four groups of florets, one single floret, two florets, a group of three florets, and a group of eight florets.  Actual number of groupings and the number of florets in each grouping may differ.  Florets are always small with a small center.  The number of petals on the florets will vary from 12 to 16.  The florets were always originally applied in even numbers.

One source states: “The description by Charles Hajdamach is a liberal extract from the John Northwood II précis of the patent. These flowers were produced in flint and colored whereby the colored flowers often have an opal core cased in colored flint. They were either "matted" or left bright i.e. the natural finish.”   Mr. Hajadamach also stated that “however the random shape of Matsu-no-ke indicates that it was done with a simpler tool similar to that used for raspberry prunts, a device similar to that used with sealing wax.”   We must point out that in Mr. Hajdamach’s book, British Glass 1800 -1914; there was no mention of Mat-Su-No-Ke vines, branches, or flowers being of colored glass.  All examples of a Mat Su illustrated in his book were of clear or frosted flint glass.  We know that Stevens and Williams decorated other pieces of glass with colored flowers.  These colored flowers were much larger than the Mat Su flowers.  The Mat Su flowers were much too small to have an opal core.  Only the larger flowers, often of color, had opal cores.  These flowers were probably made with pincher and plunger as described in the Northwood patent.  The Mat-Su flowers would have been made with a smaller and simpler tool, such as the tool used to make the raspberry prunts.  Again, this device would be similar to that used with sealing wax. 

The reader will note that rose bowls and other pieces of glass are often mislabeled (by major and well-known auction houses and dealers as Mat- Su-No-Ke), even when they are not.  Reading the following will help in proper identification: 

The piece is NOT Mat-Su-No-Ke:

A.    If it was not made by Stevens and Williams.

B.    If it does not have the Stevens and Williams registration on the bottom of the piece of glass.

C.    If it has larger flowers, leaves, fruit, nuts, birds or animals.

D.    If the flowers are colored or have a colored center of the flower-like and opal core.

E.     If it has a single vine.

F.  If it has multiple vines and large flowers, it is probably Bohemian.

The piece is a Mat-Su-No-Ke if it has all of these characteristics:

A.    Manufactured by Stevens and Williams.

B.    Has the Stevens and Williams registration design (Rd #15353) in longhand on the bottom of the rose bowl in conjunction with a doubled domed extended raspberry prunt.

C.    It will normally have multiple branches or vines for feet.  There will be only three feet–never four.  The vine feet are always in the form of rustic oblique looping design.   Occasionally, registered Stevens and Williams Mat-Su- No-Ke are found with Stevens and Williams “rustic pattern ball feet” rather than rustic vine or branch feet– again three only.   

D.   The vines or branches scroll up the side of the bowl.

E.    The branches have multiple sprays of small, numerous flowers or florets.  The florets may be individual or in groups of two, three or more.  The Stevens and Williams registration sketch illustrates four groups of florets, one single floret, two florets, a group of three florets, and a group of eight florets.  Actual number of groupings and the number of florets in each grouping may differ.  (Note: See the copy of the original S&W design sketch below.)

F.     Florets are always small with a small center.  The number of petals on the florets will vary from 12 to 16.  The florets were always originally applied in even numbers.  Florets are easily damage therefore some may be missing. The Florets are clear or frosted but not colored glass.   

G.    All vines, branches, stems, and flowers are of flint glass, either clear or   frosted. 

Stevens and Williams Pseudo Mat-Su-No-Ke:

The writer is not aware of the existence of any Stevens and Williams rose bowls that have true Mat-Su-No-Ke like decorations applied, but do not have the S&W Rd #15353.  Therefore, any rose bowl without both, is not a Mat-Su-No-Ke.  An example of this can be found in Mervyn Gulliver’s book, Victorian Decorative Glass British Designs, 1850-1914, on page 69, figure 14, and also on page 127.  Both images are of the same rose bowl.  Also see examples at the end of this document. 

As stated earlier, there were many English glasshouses other than Stevens and Williams that manufactured very similar floral motifs.  Some of the inspired floral designs produced were equally as beautiful as the Sevens and Williams produced items but they are not a Mat-Su-No-Ke

Stevens and Williams Mat-Su-No-Ke Pattern Design Sketch:

 

John Northwood’s patented Spring Pincers and a Stamping Device patented in 1885

 

 Below are photos of “Confirmed” signed Stevens and Williams’ Registered Pattern

Mat-Su-No-Ke 

We have supplied detail description to make it easy for the reader to properly visually identify real Mat-Su from the Pseudo Mat-Su.  Don’t be fooled, it is not hard.  Many auction houses and dealers do not know the difference.  This detail description guide is the only one in existing, to the best of our knowledge.

      Photos of a Stevens and Williams Registered Pattern Mat-Su-No-Ke

Side View and Top View

 

 Photo Courtesy of the Candice and John Scherz Collection

 Please note the color is altered to enhance the Rd #15353, which is hard to see, it is left and below the top center foot and above the raspberry prunt.

Bottom View

Photo Courtesy of the Candice and John Scherz Collection  

Below are more Documented Stevens & Williams, Mat- Su-No-Ke Rose Bowls Photos with detailed descriptions

 

Below is a Tri Cased Glass Egg shaped (Ovid) Mat Su with large Box Crimp Pleats, with clear vines and florets with proper Rd #15353 in longhand on the bottom of the rose bowl in conjunction with the proper double domed extended raspberry prunt.  This is a rare Mat-Su simple do to the fact it is Tri Cased Glass.  This means it has a third clear glass coat over the second blue cased glass which is over the pastel interior base glass.  You will see a Tri Cased Mat-Su-No-Ke maybe one in ten or 10%.  Every additional layer of glass, exponentially increases the complexity of the manufacture.  After all casing is finished then the clear glass rigaree also known as Appliqué work must be applied.  This includes the florets, vines, and feet.  After the final assembly the glass had to survive tempering in the lehrs, (annealing oven).            

    

           

Photos Courtesy of the Candice and John Scherz Collection

 

Non Cased Glass, i.e. transparent Cranberry Glass Egg shaped (Ovid) Mat Su with large Box Crimp Pleats, with clear vines and florets with proper Rd #15353 in longhand on the bottom of the roe bowl in conjunctions with the proper double domed extended raspberry prunt.  

 

               

 

Satin Cased Glass Squat form, robin’s egg blue interior base glass with butterscotch to caramel exterior Cased Glass with large Box Crimp Pleats, with clear vines and florets.  With a faint Rd #15353  in longhand which can not be seen on the bottom of the rose bowl in the photo but it exists.  It has the proper doubled extended raspberry prunt.  

 Photos courtesy of Woody Auctions

 

The left rose bowl is a single glass (non-Cased Glass).  The right rose bowl is Tri Cased Glass being robin’s egg blue interior base glass with butterscotch to caramel exterior second Cased Glass and then a top clear Cased glass with small Box Crimp Pleats.  Both have proper Rd# and prunts.

    

  Photos Courtesy of Fieldings Auctioneers

 

Below is a Cased Glass pastel interior base glass with butterscotch exterior Case Glass with large Box Crimp Pleats, with clear vines and florets.  It has the proper Rd #15353 in longhand on the bottom of the rose bowl.  It also has the proper doubled domed extended raspberry prunt.  

Photos Courtesy of Norma Naber's Collections

 

Below a Stevens and Williams Mat Su, in single glass (non cased) with simple crimps with Rustic Pattern Ball feet.  One could call this a basket because of the vines over the top of the bowl. Yet is more decorative than functional as handles.  This rose bowl though highly complex, somewhat appears as a end of production run line item.  It shows changes to simplify the manufacturing process, such as the Rustic Ball Pattern feet, and that fact it is single glass no cased.  Then again it may just be a different design.       

Photos Courtesy of Fieldings Auctioneers, LTD.

 

Improperly Identified Rose Bowls, often called Mat-Su-No-Ke some manufacture by Stevens & Williams’ and some by other manufactures.

 

The two rose bowls below are Stevens and Williams, neither are Mat Su.  The one on the left is a pull up and the one on the right is Case Glass.  Both are very nice quality.  Note the flowers are not correct style and they are not clear as they are colored.  Neither rose bowl has the proper Rd #.  Note, the vines are not clear or frosted glass they are amber.  I have only seen Mat-Su in clear and frosted glass vines.

               

Photos Courtesy of Fieldings Auctioneers

 

Below is a Stevens and Williams rose bowl but it is not a Mat Su.  It is a pull up and a very nice piece of glass.  Again note the flowers are not the correct style and they are not clear, they are colored.  This rose bowl does not have the proper Rd #.  Note the vines are not clear or frosted glass they are amber. 

Photos Courtesy of Fieldings Auctioneers

 

I believe this to be a Stevens and Williams rose bowl but not a Mat Su.  It has no flowers and is enameled.  It  does not have the proper Rd #.  

  Photos Courtesy of Fieldings Auctioneers

 

This center bowl was most probably made by Sevens and Williams.  It is Air Trap (MOP) with small box crimp.  While it does have flowers and a prunt the flowers are not the proper Florets for a Mat Su and it has no Rd #.  It is not a Mat Su.    

 

Photos Courtesy of Fieldings Auctioneers

 

This is a Stuart and Sons Cased Glass Rose bowl.  Note the difference in the flowers beside it dose not have the proper Rd # or proper purnt.

 

Close up of in-correct Flowers (Not S&W produced)

 

These two different rose bowls, were manufactured by Stuart and Sons.  Both are Case Glass one has clear a gloss finish and clear glass vines and flowers while the other has satin glass finish with frosted glass vines and flowers.  This is from the acid treatment to give the glass the satin finish.  Look at the difference in the flowers from the true S&W Mat-Su.  They also do not have the proper Rd # or purnt.  If you look that the flowers closely you will see they are no 3D stacked florets like an S&W rose bowls.  It is a one piece stamped flower with five sides and five petals.  You will note these flowers are an exact match to the previous green Case Glass Stuart and Sons rose bowl. 

          

Photos Courtesy of Fieldings Auctioneers

 

Unknown manufacture but not an S & W Mat-Su.  The leaves are not correct.  It has nice florets and vein legs.  The Florets look more look more like those of Thomas Webb as does the Crimp.  The color is classic Web peach blow dye away.  The legs just are not ornate enough for S & W.  The florets, legs and crimp do not match Stuart and Sons either.  We would attribute this rose bowl to Thomas Webb and Sons.  

 

 

A late 19th Century Stourbridge glass bowl of compressed ovoid form with three stylized feet with applied stylized flowering blossom boughs and veins  over the Amberina tinted glass with clear glass edge trail at crimp area.  With a width  of 7".  This is actually a center bowl.  ca. 1880

 Courtesy of Fieldings Auctioneers, Ltd.

 

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