Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Commercial Billy

Clips from an undated holographic William E. Hentschel resume (c. 1950) in the Cincinnati Art Museum archives.

“Accustomed as is the City of Cincinnati to being the home of a great pottery industry, it will surprise many to find that one of the newest and most interesting glass industries is in the Queen City. This is no ordinary glass industry, but one having at its base an entirely new idea and beauty.
Its very name, crystal bent glass, prepares us for its novel quality.
The great European glass industries like Orrefors and the private makers such as Decorchemont and Marinot have at their back great artists who are highly trained designers; so, too, has crystal bent glass. In the very beginning the organization was fortunate enough to secure the services of one of the great designers of this country, William E. Hentschel, instructor in design at the Cincinnati Art Academy. As a designer Mr. Hentschel has been thinking for years in terms of material; his designs are created so as to bring out the natural beauty of certain mediums.

Original image from Enquirer story with interesting archival staples.
For nearly a year now Mr. Hentschel has been creating and working out the forms and decorations of crystal bent glass, which come in unusual and interesting shapes in the form of clocks, picture frames, desk sets, writing sets, book ends, cigarette sets, table sets, candle sticks and bowls, and other forms innumerable. These are all signed pieces and are remarkable examples of skillful and interesting adaptation of design to glass.
We have seen a large exhibition of these pieces which were assembled for an exhibition in the semi-annual gift show that is now current in Chicago.

Unattributed, unsigned example sold online. Alerted by Commenter MB Hays.


Pieces of crystal bent glass that exploit the beautiful richness and naturalness of glass are the clocks in which subtle qualities of color are obtained by the overlapping of layers of soft sea-green glass, one upon another, such as you may observe in one of the reproductions. The leveled edges produce varied effects and help to bring out and enrich the subtle color of the translucent glass. Parts of the clock itself, such as the hands and numerals of the face, are specially designed to harmonize with the basic form and decoration.

Original Enquirer image with that design's Patent Office submission.

Another example of fine glass design is a large photograph frame in a deep blue of great brilliance, which is the ground for a simple, clear, cut-out polished pattern of circles and lines that have the exquisite quality of a design that is natural to glass.
That translucent quality of some pieces, enriched by the overlaying of one piece upon another, is further enhanced by the application of a mirror back. Lovely variations are secured by this method—also, by the use of different mirror substances such as gold, silver, platinum or bronze; combined with different colored bent glass. Notably attractive is one piece—a photograph frame—made of peach-colored glass which, treated with a mirror back produced a lovely platinum bronze.
We are promised that in the autumn Cincinnati is to have an exhibition of crystal bent glass.”

--Mary L. Alexander, Cincinnati Enquirer, August 9, 1936

Written in Billy's hand on the undated photo’s reverse side:
“W. Hentschel Mirror Frame and Coffee Table
The Nurre Company Designed 15 years ago Coffee table - Lemon wood and glass top – bottom part 2 concave semi-circles Mirror black ebony frame”

The Nurre label (R) was found online.

Images: Cincinnati Art Museum, Ebay, United States Patent and Trademark Office



  2. Thanks for the link, the color images are beautiful and I'd love to know the clock's selling price. It certainly looks like one of Billy's patent designs but Decophobia doesn't mention the artist mark, likely etched along an edge of the glass, referred to in the above Enquirer article.

  3. I've only seen three of these for sale over the years and with fleabite chips they have asked anywhere from $700 to $1,000. I couldn't find a patent online for this design so reading this article and seeing the sketch was very informative. One of your posts mentions that he did design work for the Andrew Jergens Co. Do you happen to know anything more about what he might have done for them?

    1. If you see another Hentschel clock snap an image of the artist mark if any...

  4. Most likely he designed packages or advertisements. An undated resume in Billy's hand in the CAG archive reads:
    "Designer for, Rookwood Pottery-20years, Kenton Hills Porcelains-Vice Pres., designer-5 years, Womens' [sic] Wear, Malinson Silks, Marshall Fields, Andrew Jurgens Company, Cincinnati Products Company, Nurre Glass Company, Wadsworth Watch Company, Scalamandre Silks, Dalcrank Lubrication Equipment Inc., Designs for Architecture projects."
    Most of these companies no longer exist or have been bought and resold to new owners with no archival storage interest for ephemera
    The rare Duke Gallery (1987) biography says, "His designs included intricate and imaginative packages for cosmetic products, furniture designs, a beauty parlor chair for the Marshall Field Company in Chicago and a series of clocks done in bent crystal glass..."
    In the late 1940's, again according to the Duke bio, "Billy served as a spokesman for Ruxton Products' line of Casein emulsions in testimonial ads and a leaflet entitled: 'Techniques and Methods of Casein Painting by Hentschel."
    I would love to find a picture of the Fields salon chair, any of his packaging designs, a Ruxton ad or a picture or an actual copy of the Ruxton leaflet.
    I'm glad my little blog has provided a service to you.

  5. It's a great resource. I wish it had been around when my wife and I did the catalogue for our exhibition "Bringing Modernism Home: Ohio Decorative Arts 1890-1960" back in 2005 for the Columbus Museum of Art. We put in an index with truncated cv's/bios for the artists and could have fleshed out his a lot more than we did.

    1. Your book arrived in today's mail...very nice, some beautiful photos. Right away leafing thru the bios I saw Conant had worked for Wadsworth Watch Co in Dayton, KY as a designer as had Billy...can't wait to dig into it...lots of production and cheap train travel opened all sorts of avenues that don't exist today for an ordinary person. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.