The Genius of Frederick Carder: Akiba Antiques to Auction Wide Array of Steuben Glass This December

Liz Catalano
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At 16 years old, a young Frederick Carder spotted a copy of the legendary Portland Vase in the studio of English glassmaker John Northwood. The ancient Roman cameo vase left a strong impression. Carder went on to dedicate more than eight decades of his life to the study, design, and production of fine glass. Steuben Glass Works was the fruit of his labors, and Carder established a legacy of collectible colored glass that continues today. 

“He was obsessed with historical precedents,” independent curator Donald Albrecht told The New York Times in 2005. “At the same time, he was one of the most innovative, eclectic, and creative designers in the history of glassmaking. His revolutionary techniques changed the field.”

Akiba Antiques will showcase Frederick Carder’s innovations in an upcoming auction this December. The Florida-based auction house will offer an extensive selection of rare Steuben glass, European antiques, and fine art from the Schultz Collection in time for the holidays. Bidding begins at 12:00 PM EST on December 16th, 2021. Auction Daily explores the listings— and Frederick Carder’s genius— before the event.

Rare Steuben iridized Tiffany Blue vase, c. 1903 - 1932. Image from Akiba Antiques.
Rare Steuben iridized Tiffany Blue vase, c. 1903 – 1932. Image from Akiba Antiques.

Aurene Vases

Frederick Carder was first and foremost an innovator. While competitors such as Louis Comfort Tiffany diversified their output, Carder dedicated himself fully to the nuances of glassmaking. He produced over 7,000 varieties of decorative art while managing Steuben Glass Works in the early 20th century. His first and most famous creation was Aurene. To achieve the style’s distinct shine, Carder sprayed stannous chloride on hot glass. Compounds such as cobalt oxide and iron chloride were added to change the color and give a brighter sheen. The result was an iridescence that defined Steuben glass items for decades. 

Steuben Aurene glass from Frederick Carder is now prized by collectors worldwide. The upcoming Akiba Antiques sale highlights over 60 examples of this style, including several coveted Gold Aurene pieces. A notable lot among the offerings is an iridized Tiffany Blue vase with Gold Aurene accents (estimate: USD 2,000 – $20,000). A swirling leaf-and-vine pattern covers this piece and offers a striking visual. A similar sapphire blue vase sold for $25,000 with Akiba Antiques in July of 2021.

Steuben Frederick Carder Intarsia goblet, c. 20th century. Image from Akiba Antiques.
Steuben Frederick Carder Intarsia goblet, c. 20th century. Image from Akiba Antiques.

Intarsia Glass 

Many other styles grew from Frederick Carder’s Aurene technique. A crisscrossed decoration frequently appeared on Carder’s Brown Aurene works after 1915. The glassmaker rubbed various colored threads into the Aurene casing to achieve this effect. Carder named the style “Intarsia” after the Italian “intarsiatura,” which describes a common wood inlaying technique. 

He also applied the name to a tricky new technique that he formalized in the 1920s. For these Intarsia works, Carder placed a colored floral design between layers of clear crystal glass to create a mind-bending illusion of depth. With the exception of goblets, he signed many of these Intarsia works on their fronts or sides to signal pride in his accomplishment.

A Steuben Intarsia goblet by Carder is available with Akiba Antiques this December (estimate: $2,000 – $8,000). Unlike most small Intarsia goblets, Carder signed this example along the stem of a flower. Akiba Antiques states in the lot description that this unusual goblet with a hexagonal base may be one-of-a-kind.

Steuben black Cintra cologne bottle, c. 1903 - 1932. Image from Akiba Antiques.
Steuben black Cintra cologne bottle, c. 1903 – 1932. Image from Akiba Antiques.

Cintra Cologne and Perfume Bottles

Glassmakers across history and cultures have used powdered glass in their creations. Frederick Carder greatly respected such traditional glassmaking techniques and worked to master and improve them, often with a twist. Carder already had experience working with the material before he founded Steuben Glass Works. By creatively combining powdered materials (such as gold leaf and mica) with molten glass, Carder designed controlled effects that were highly unusual for their time. 

Carder soon launched the Cintra glass series to showcase his improved powdered glass techniques. He added powdered glass to hot glass and covered the resulting piece in crystal to achieve bubble effects in cologne and perfume bottles. This effort was Carder’s cheeky response to the industry’s widespread disdain for bubbles in clear glass. 

Akiba Antiques’ December sale will include several Cintra cologne and perfume bottles. One features a striking black center with a hexagonal faceted stopper (estimate: $1,000 – $5,000). Another bottle is pyramid-shaped in a paperweight style (estimate: $2,000 – $8,000). Its internal decoration fades from pale pink to violet to deep blue.

Rare Steuben Diatreta vase, 1953. Image from Akiba Antiques.
Rare Steuben Diatreta vase, 1953. Image from Akiba Antiques.

Diatreta Vases

Frederick Carder eventually left his beloved Steuben Glass Works amid the economic pressures of the Great Depression. However, he continued as the Art Director for Corning Glass Works, the company that acquired Steuben. Carder devoted the next phase of his career to the lost wax or cire perdue technique. He developed a new ceramic formula to create complicated, separated glass forms with the lost wax technique. Carder called these new styles Diatreta, a reference to ancient Roman “cage cups” with inner and outer glass layers. Carder perfected this style in the 1950s. He was in his nineties. 

A rare Steuben Diatreta vase will come to auction this winter. This clear frosted glass piece features elaborate openwork along the sides. Leaves and vines crawl up the vase in a high-relief trellis. Its presale estimate is $5,000 to $25,000.

Akiba Antiques will present The Fabulous Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Schultz on December 16th, 2021 at 12:00 PM EST. As members of the Carder Steuben Club, the Schultz family built this extensive collection over 40 years. Find the full auction listings and register to place a bid on LiveAuctioneers

Akiba Antiques has long been a destination for Steuben glass collectors. Read our coverage of Akiba Antiques’ July auction featuring early Steuben glass from the Alan and Susan Shovers Collection. 

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Liz Catalano
Liz Catalano
Senior Writer and Editor

Liz Catalano is a writer and editor for Auction Daily. She covers fine art sales, market analysis, and social issues within the auction industry. Based in Chicago, she regularly collaborates with auction houses and other clients.

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