"Grand Prize" punch bowl on stand


Libbey Glass Company ( American, 1888 )

c. 1905
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General Description

This "Grand Prize" punch bowl is an excellent example of American brilliant cut glass, a type of glass known for its deeply cut decoration. The increased sparkle or reflectivity is due to the addition of lead oxide to the hot glass, commonly referred to as 'leaded' glass. Brilliant cut glass was popular in middle-to upper-class families during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and provided the perfect accessory for extravagantly laid tables and social drinking in the home. A concoction of spirits, citrus juices, spices, sugar, and water known as "punch" could be ladled from this bowl, but it could also simply act as an ostentatious display piece in a room even when not in use.

After World War I, production of brilliant cut glass dwindled because many glass manufacturers in the country stopped utilizing the labor-intensive cutting it required, and because the flashy ornamental style was seen as old-fashioned by the 1920s. Made by the Libbey Glass Company of Toledo, Ohio, it was patterned after that company's celebrated and award-winning creation for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair (Louisiana Purchase Exposition). The design was marketed as the "Grand Prize" pattern in the firm's catalogue, but required so much cutting that the price was prohibitively expensive. Consequently, only a handful was ever sold, and this example is the only one known in a public collection.

Adapted from

  • DMA unpublished material, Label text (1997.140.a-b), 2017.

  • Stephen G. Harrison, Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts, DMA unpublished material, 1997.

  • Samantha Robinson, DMA unpublished material, Label text (1982.84) from the exhibition Shaken, Stirred, Styled: The Art of the Cocktail, November 18, 2016 to November 12, 2017.

Fun Facts

The original Grand Prize punch bowl, made for the Libbey Glass Company exhibit at the Louisiana purchase Centennial Exposition in St. Louis is said to be the largest single piece of cut glass in the world. This bowl is a duplicate.