We here at Blenko know that you would like – more than anything else – to know whether or not this, or that, piece is, in fact, Blenko Glass. “Is this Blenko?” rings out across the internet, in the social media groups of our collectors and fans.

As we discussed in the last post in this series – Blenko cannot authenticate your glass. It requires more expertise than we can spare when we’re still really busy making and selling new glass – unlike, sadly, so many historical and beloved glass manufacturers that have fallen by the wayside. We’ve got our heads down and our eyes scanning the horizon, and as we have been here in Milton, WV for the last one hundred years – so we imagine ourselves here still in one hundred more, the Mecca of Colored Glass on the banks of the Mud River.

But we’re doing our best to help you answer that question. Our ‘Learn’ tab [LINK] on the website contains digitized resources in our cloud ‘Vault.’ For several years, we’ve had most of the catalogs posted to the website and accessible in the palm of your hands. You can pull up those catalogs on the fly in an antique mall – and if you’re knowledgeable enough about our colors, forms, and designers, narrow down pretty quickly what catalog years to look through to answer that burning question – “Is this Blenko?”

Still, using the catalogs for identification presumes some knowledge of our historical color palettes, or of a designer’s overall aesthetic and tenure. Worse, there have long been some gaps in our catalog coverage; and there have been more designs than have appeared in catalogs.

We’re proud to have worked with the Corning Museum of Glass’s Rakow Research Library in New York state – and we’ve finally begun to patch some of the holes in our catalog coverage. This September, we welcomed home our 1955 and 1956 catalogs – long an inaccessible storehouse of Wayne Husted’s early work here at Blenko.

These catalogs are rich with Husted’s relentless experimentation during his time at Blenko – like his pieces with primitive bitwork and motifs, including these 5514 glasses – each a different size with a ribbon of stamped primitive motifs. Die-hard fans of Blenko already know of Husted’s “Bat” Decanter – a squared flask with pinched sides and a splayed blob of glass applied to the front. These pieces with primitive motifs harken to Husted’s master’s thesis at Alfred University, where he admired stone age folk art motifs, and wondered how they might work in glass, that protean and elemental medium. These motifs also point forward to the work of another beloved Blenko designer - Don Shepherd, whose beautiful lithographic stamps and dump moulds celebrate natural and hunting scenes from early Native American artists.

There is much pleasure ahead if you haven’t yet looked at the newest catalog additions to our Vault. These digital catalogs are a stable resource for you to take your time with. There’s no quick path to becoming a Blenko Expert, but the starting point is most certainly taking the time to thumb through our catalog pages and become familiar with our voices, styles, and colors.

We are in the process of scanning the 2016-17 catalog, so keep your eyes peeled for that arrival soon! We have determined that, as far as we can tell, there was no 2006 catalog. We are working on locating clean, well-preserved copies of catalogs earlier than 1953, as well.

Insofar as most of our sales are direct-to-consumer now, we have less need at present to assemble a yearly catalog of wares, and subject ourselves to the crush of long sampling times and immovable wares. We have become more nimble, flexible and responsive with our design in recent years - but don’t worry, we are working on a solution that records and captures our innovations and new designs in recent years. From 2023 forward, instead of an omnibus catalog released at the beginning of the year, we aim to take a retrospective, and assemble a ‘Yearbook’ of the year’s offerings, be they wares or special editions. Stay tuned for that!