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Matthew Turnbull - another Carnival Glass discovery

Matthew Turnbull catalogue

For many years, the maker of the May baskets has been a mystery - who made Maple Leaf, Duchesse (aka Fleur de Lys), George VI, and others? Some have speculated that they were made by Brockwitz. Others have suggested it might have been the English glassmaker, Davidson.

We have always believed that an English maker was responsible – our belief being strengthened by the fact that one of the baskets commemorates the Coronation of King George VI. We have considered that Sowerby or Greener/Jobling could be the maker. But our recent discovery of a handful of pages from a 1930s Matthew Turnbull catalogue provided the evidence to finally solve the mystery.


There on the catalogue page was Basket No. 480 - shown below, top left. It is a May basket, the design being Duchesse (aka Fleur de Lys) - pictured below, centre. The unusual pattern detail on the handle is the clue - it is identical to that on the other May baskets - as shown in the subsequent pictures. Also, in all cases, the handles are pressed with the basket itself, not applied later.


A eureka moment indeed!



Turnbull catalogue, basket no. 480

Duchesse May basket

Duchesse May basket exterior


 Duchesse May basket, courtesy Ian Williams

 Exterior of Duchesse, courtesy Ian Williams


George IV basket


Maple Leaf basket


Duchesse basket

 George VI May basket (above) and exterior (below) 

 Maple Leaf May basket (above) and exterior (below)

 Diamond Point May basket (above) and exterior (below), courtesy Lesley Smith. Confusingly - and like Duchesse - it has also been called Fleur de Lys

Exterior of George VI basket

Exterior of Maple Leaf basket

Exterior of Duchesse basket

More on the George VI basket: We heard of this commemorative basket in 1990 when it was first reported and we were able to buy it 2004. They are found from time to time in clear flint glass (crystal) but in Carnival they are very scarce items, and only a few are known, all in marigold. The date of manufacture is clear as it is shown on the basket: 1937, the Coronation of King George VI.

As the second son of King George V, he did not expect to inherit the throne, and it was his elder brother who was crowned Edward VIII when George V died in 1936. However, less than a year later Edward abdicated in order to marry Wallis Simpson; George VI ascended the throne and his daughter succeeded him as the current Queen Elizabeth II, and the rest is history….

The pattern is all exterior - but is cleverly executed in reverse so that it can be viewed (and reads correctly) from the top or inside of the basket. The design features a crown in the very centre, and the words CORONATION OF H.M. KING GEORGE VI 1937. Around the lettering are the stylized floral emblems of roses, shamrocks and thistles.

The design is cameo - raised up off the surface of the glass - and has been made with a "punch" to cut the design in reverse into the metal mould. This feature also adds to Turnbull being the maker - it was a technique they used on other Royal and commemorative bowls and baskets. 


George VI design

Stop Press: Carol Sumpter has sent us pictures of another basket that has the same handle and the same characteristics as the other baskets shown above - most likely another Turnbull item. She has called it Star and Grooves - pictured right courtesy of Carol.

Star and Grooves basket


Star and Grooves exterior

The Turnbull discovery does not stop there, for on the same catalogue page was another mystery piece that has been variously attributed to Jenkins, Davidson, Davison (sic), Sowerby and others besides. The Hobstar Reversed flower or rose bowl (aka Oval Star & Fan) was clearly shown on the Matthew Turnbull page as Rose Bowl, Flower Block, Plinth No. 495 - shown below.

 Turnbull catalogue image of Hobstar Reversed


The rose bowl is the bowl itself, the flower block is the “frog” or flower holder inside and the plinth is of course, the black glass base on which it stands.

It seems reasonable to think that the other items in this pattern - celery vases, butterdish and so on - were also made by Turnbull – although these shapes are not illustrated in the catalogue pages that we have, and also there are some differences in the execution of the pattern.

Go here to read more on these items.


Hobstar Reversed rosebowl

Another lesser known item can also be attributed to Turnbull too, on account of the catalogue page we found.

It is a seldom seen, footed bowl in a pattern known as Forty Five that resembles a hybrid of the Moonprint and Jacobean designs. A sugar bowl and a flared bowl were made by Turnbull in this pattern - Turnbull’s No.121, shown below and right.

Turnbull catalogue showing Forty Five sugar

Turnbull Forty Five bowl

Turnbull catalogue showing Forty Five bowl

We have long believed the Towers Vase to be a Turnbull piece (see Carnival Glass: The Magic & the Mystery 2nd Edition) and these fresh attributions add weight to that belief. No doubt other pieces will emerge as our research continues.