Roly Poly. Silver Band Glass. The Mad Men Glass. It goes by many names, but the iconic design was made famous by Glendale, California designer, Dorothy Thorpe, in the '40s-'60s.
Thorpe started her venture in glass artistry during the depression era by fashioning tumblers from beer bottles, cutting off the necks and attaching wooden handles to them. She later discovered sand etching techniques, and began experimenting with unusual and dramatic floral patterns on crystal platters and glassware. What started as a hobby gained her great fame as a pioneer in the world of glass design. Her designs were first marketed though a small Hollywood gift shop, but soon became a featured product at luxury home retailers including Neiman-Marcus, making her creations readily available for consumers nationwide.
For mid-century enthusiasts, it is Thorpe's Allegro line that is the most recognizable. The iconic silver band is soft and simple, adding delicate elegance to any table setting. Often imitated, but never duplicated, authentic Allegro glassware features real silver applied to crystal, unlike many modern reproductions, which use reflective chrome finish. These replica designs more closely mimic Thorpe's Old Gold line, which used platinum instead of silver.
I was fortunate enough to stumble upon an authentic Allegro glass and pitcher set a couple of years ago. The tarnished bands on the glass caught my eye right away, signaling that this was real silver instead of a chrome knock-off. Upon closer inspection, I found that one glass still had the original Dorothy C. Thorpe, Inc. sticker! I couldn't quite believe that this set had been so pristinely maintained over the years, and with the sticker intact, I wondered if the set had ever been used.
Each piece cleaned up beautifully with delicate polishing and a gentle hand wash. It is a treasured set that I like to keep prominently displayed on the living room coffee table. Guests often give a curious turn of the glass with the sticker, wondering what it says.
Authentic Thorpe designs can still be found at antique shops and online stores in a variety of shapes and sizes, including cocktail glasses, punch bowls, creamer and sugar sets, candy dishes and more. If you're looking to start or expand your collection, begin by looking for real silver bands, and don't be afraid of a tarnished set. A little silver cream goes a long way in restoring the original beauty and luster.