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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Simple Useful Practical and Attractive

Well what the heck is it? Hint, it has to do with flies/insects! The antique ones are hand blown or a two piece molded pressed glass. This one shows a cork as a stopper on top and an opening at the bottom where the glass goes inward leaving a well for a liquid such as sugar water (in the Victorian era people used milk mixed with arsenic). It can be found in many sizes and colors of glass. Some are found with metal tops or a decorative glass stopper for a closure (most had cork stoppers) and some have a wire bail to hang by. They were made in different shapes and sizes, usually have feet on the bottom for elevation and easy entry, or somewhat warped on bottom, and the top is covered. If they do not have feet, they were made for hanging only with a wire bail attached.

Have you figured out what they are yet?

They could hang in a tree, be found on the porch, or sit on a table in the house.
They are fly/insect traps.
The genius is their simplicity, extremely useful for catching the pests, practical because they can be used anywhere, and when displayed in an area with the light shining through they are attractive.
The fly,bee, or any flying insect attracted to sweet nectar, will enter at the bottom hole, and the hole is just the right size so that you wouldn't catch larger bugs such as moths. They will then drink from the liquid in the bottom well. When they decide to leave apparently they only fly sideways and upward, not downward, and not back the way they came in through the bottom. Doom 
Interesting huh?
The photos above show the bottle shaped traps which are from the 1900's. Earlier forms are usually in two pieces and shaped differently. In the early 1900s, there were many "bottle" fly traps that were apparently made from bottle molds. These pieces have definite mold marks, molded lips and simply appear to be bottles with the bottom pushed in.
 These are still being made today because of the genius and simplicity involved. Only experience in recognizing the difference in old versus new glass can help you determine if you have found an antique bottle or a brand new version. You will usually not find a new one that is hand blown but that doesn't mean they are not out there.
For some history -- Many of the Victorian fly traps (1890's) were either blown by art glass makers or they were two-piece pressed glass contraptions.

An older blown glass fly trap. Note the blown glass stopper.

Dome shaped Victorian flint glass, pressed, two-piece fly trap, patent dated 1890.




Close up of fly finial.

Pressed glass fly trap with fly finial.


The "Unique Fly Trap" has a 1914 patent date, an inserted fly screen cone and a tin lid. This is a blown-molded piece and some examples do not have the patent day, just Pat. Appl'd.

So, the next time a fly is in your house, you might wish you had one of these on a table to attact it, instead of running around with a fly swatter trying to get it. 

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