Guest Blogger: Judy Penz Sheluk

When Facts Find Their Way Into Fiction

I’m often asked how I came up with the name of the Glass Dolphin antiques shop, which in turn lends its name to my amateur sleuth mystery series, and the answer is really quite simple: the Glass Dolphin antiques shop, and its owner, Arabella Carpenter, play a pivotal role in the first book, The Hanged Man’s Noose, as well as in the second book A Hole in One. The shop itself is named after Arabella’s first antique “find,” and the candlesticks in her store window can indeed be found in antiques shops, as well as at auction.

In addition to writing an antiques-based mystery series, I’ve also been the Senior Editor for New England Antiques Journal since 2007. So in answer to your next question: Yes, there really are glass dolphin candlesticks, and as you see from the photo here, they are beautiful.

Some History

Four matching Sandwich pressed dolphin double-step cobalt blue candlesticks (sold for $4,600 in January 2015 at Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates).

Production of dolphin candlesticks began about 1840 and continued for approximately 35 to 40 years. They were produced in clear or opaque milk glass, as well as in colored glass, including green, canary yellow and cobalt blue. Blue is generally the most sought after color.

Dolphin candlesticks were made by many American glasshouses, but it was the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company who first introduced them. The company was founded in 1825, in Sandwich, Massachusetts, by Deming Jarves, a Boston businessman and former agent of the New England Glass Company of East Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Jarves recruited glassmakers from England and Ireland, considered the foremost craftsmen during the early nineteenth century, as well as bringing glassblowers with him from the New England Glass Company.

In the mid-1820s, American manufacturers began to experiment with pressing glass with the use of a lever-operated machine. While Jarves did not invent the pressing process, he did receive several patents for improvements in pressing techniques and mold designs.

In the 1840s and 1850s, Boston & Sandwich perfected the pressing processes further to eliminate surface imperfections. They mass-produced a stunning spectrum of colored tableware, such as lamps, perfume bottles, and candlesticks, which included the very popular dolphin pattern.

The final years of the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company saw a number of economic and labor problems, and in 1887, the glass workers union called for a national strike. In sympathy, the Sandwich workers also went on strike, an event that ultimately forced the company to close in 1888.

Of course, very little of this history has made its way into my books, but the research is never wasted, if only because it lends authenticity to the text. And as Arabella Carpenter likes to say, “Authenticity matters.”

Indeed it does.

About Judy Penz Sheluk:

The author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin

Mysteries (THE HANGED MAN’S NOOSE and A HOLE IN ONE) and The Marketville Mysteries (SKELETONS IN THE ATTIC), as well as short crime fiction, Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Regional Representative for Toronto/Southern Ontario.

Find Judy on her website/blog where she interviews and showcases the works of other authors and blogs about the writing life.

A HOLE IN ONE, the latest book in The Glass Dolphin Mystery series, was released on March 6, 2018 and is available in trade paperback and all eBook formats at all the usual suspects, including Amazon and Barns & Noble.