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    Auction Finds

    What do you do with glass grapes?

    As soon as I saw the eight to 10 trays of glass grapes under the auction table, I was stumped. What would you do with them? Dust them off  too often or let them just collect particles somewhere in your house?

    Were they someone’s collection? If so, it’s one of those that baffles me.

    I had seen the blue and green and purple and red and yellow clusters of single glass grapes at auction before, and I was always curious about them. We never had them in our house, and I assumed they were figurines for a living room table – strewn here and there to match the color décor.

    Now, bunches of them were stacked on trays at one of my favorite auction houses, waiting to clutter someone else’s home. One tray contained a bunch of small grapes; I hadn’t seen small ones before. Some of the bunches were attached to wooden stems or mounds.

    One bidder took most of them, and I was curious as much about their origin as I was about how he’d use them.

    From what I could see, the grapes looked to be glass, but after researching, I’m wondering if they might have been resin. I found out that these decorative grapes apparently go back to the 1960s, and may have been started by Mormon women. The name Mormon kept popping up on various sites as the original purveyors.

    The grapes were apparently done on what is called “Work Day,” where the Mormon Relief Society – the women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – would get together for crafts and quilting. This blogger at potsandpins.com says they are collectible (I couldn’t find an association for them – yet). Here’s an amusing essay from a Mormon writer named Janet Kay Jensen on how glass-grape-making got started.

    Several people commenting on websites mentioned seeing the grapes in the homes of their grandparents in the 1960s (not sure if these were non-Mormon grandmas). Many had very fond memories of the grapes. Check out comment #5 on this blog sunstoneblog.com from 2006 on how they were made (with resin, Christmas ornaments and copper wire) and this photo album of women making them.

    Here’s a writer on the site apartmenttherapy.com who told of a friend who’s building a collection, and offered photos from it. There, too, is a hefty list of comments from folks who also remember them from grandma’s, along with ones from folks who think they are awful.

    At the auction, the grapes did not sell for much, only about $5 a tray. Resin grape clusters were selling for 99 cents to $20 on Ebay, and many were not selling. I also found a bunch retrieved from a California winery with a latest bid of $275.

    I watched as one high bidder loaded his trays on a trolley to take to his car. I had to know what he’d do with them. So I went over to ask him.

    He’ll discard the “plastic leaves” on them, he said, and put two clusters together to make a chandelier-like fixture to hang from the ceiling. “These mid-century lights sell well,” he said.

    Good buy and great ingenuity.

    Tell me about your memories of glass grapes adorning your grandmother’s living room.

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    1. I absolutely love them, we had them growing up in the 60’s, a decorative table top piece and a beautiful hanging light to match, ours were blue and green, don’t know what happened to them but am looking for a good deal on some for a gift for my sister.

    2. Hi there, i am really interested in the history of the Lucite grapes. I got my first bunch (amber) on ebay for like $9.00 on a really nice piece of drift wood.
      This past weekend i got another one, $2.50, i was like wow, i don’t need another one but i should and gift it. Got it home and while cleaning it, i found that it was signed, Ken Craft 1969. I tried to look it up on ebay and found one that looks just like it on for sale $148, I can’t find anything on Ken Craft or anything beyond what you wrote in your article. I can’t really figure out why some are higher priced than others.
      Thank you, Victoria

      • Hi Victoria, the grapes are likely different prices depending on the color, design (elaborate or simple), condition and preference of the buyer. That’s usually the case with lots of the same types of items. On eBay, you can find the same item selling for a range of prices.

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