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Reuben Haley

Martin: OK I have jack Wilson on Skype, how’re you doing Jack?

 

Jack: I’m doing well Marty, yourself?

 

Martin: Good, thank you, and where are you?  You’re in Arizona?

 

Jack: Prescott Arizona; one of the top retirement locations in the United States.

 

Martin: Ah, well, that right away makes me think of a lot of goodies that may come in that area.

 

Jack: That’s Correct.

 

Martin: Yeah, I think of it this way, in retirement places like Florida, places like that, a lot of people may sell their furniture but a lot of times they’ll bring nice decorative arts with them or art work; in Florida a lot of things end up settling there and I’m sure it must be the same where you’re located.

 

Jack:  more so actually in phoenix than in Prescott. There’s a lot of the antiques shops here but not a lot of what I would classify as genuine antiques; more tourist type stuff.

 

Martin: Ah.  So today we are going to talk mostly about the subject of Ruba Rombic glass which has always fascinated me from the very first time I saw it, now how did you get interested in this subject and start researching and collecting this type of glass?  And before you get into that can you explain basically what the glass is, you know I think of it as like the Cubist type form in the Art Deco era but I want you to give a description if you would please.

 

Jack: Sure, in the mid twenty’s, actually 1926, the Consolidated Glass Company located in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, 15 miles outside of Pittsburgh, got into the art glass business at the urging of Reuben Haley who had worked at the U.S. Glass Company and had left when the ownership changed and he didn’t like the new owners.  So in ’26 he came out with a line of glass called Martele which is basically American Lalique and in ’28 he came out with a line of glass called Catalonian, all Spanish, and ‘28 was Ruba Rombic.  Ruba Rombic was very very Deco.  There’s a lot of different ideas of where the name came from, but I think it came from number one, Reuben, and number two, rhomboid which is a geometric figure with no parallel planes, and Ruben Haley was actually a sculptor; had worked at some of the silver companies earlier and the way I heard the story he picked a piece of plaster off the factory floor and sculpted the first piece of Ruba Rombic design in the plaster. And I heard that from a guy who worked for him.  I also interviewed his son, Ken Haley in Pennsylvania before he died.  So it’s very cubistic glass that came out in ’28 and the problem was it was ultramodern, number one, so some people liked it and some people didn’t, and in 1929, in October actually, we had Black Friday which was the great depression so bam the production lifecycle of Ruba Rombic wasn’t very long, and we’ve had varying estimates of how many pieces there are.  Bob Aibel of Moderne Gallery of Philadelphia thought it was about 1,500; based on what I know, I think it’s between 2,000 and 3,000.  But those are very, very, very small figures when you compare them to something like Lalique where if you go to a major glass show in Miami you’ll probably see 20 or 30 pieces of Lalique you can purchase, and if you see one or two of Ruba Rombic you’d be lucky.

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Show Notes: Martin speaks with expert, Jack Wilson on cubist art deco Ruba Rombic art glass produced by the Consolidated Glass Company in 1928.

Visit Jack’s website here.

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