"Dorothy Thorpe began as a music student at University of Utah. During the depression, her husband's career suffered many reversals. Dorothy chanced upon a broken wine bottle in the street which was the beginning of her very successful career and her own glass designing and sandblasting company. Dorothy Thorpe was born January 5, 1901 and died August 4, 1989.
While Dorothy is better known for her glass designing, she also designed dinnerware. Dorothy's work is seen on many types of elegant glass including Heisey, Tiffin and more."
Let’s learn a little more about Dorothy - Dorothy Thorpe did not do the actual manufacturing of glass, instead she used existing glass made by any number of manufacturers and decorated that glass. The same applies to ceramics such as dinnerware. For those lines of stemware that Thorpe did design, she did not manufacture them. Instead, Thorpe bought large lots of blank dinnerware and decorated them. There are very few items of stemware designed by Dorothy Thorpe for Dorothy Thorpe. There are a lot of Thorpe decorations on pieces by other makers though the debate over whether those pieces were not signed because they were designed for another maker or because they were overlooked rages on.
Among those pieces are various and unique designs of stemware. Perhaps the most famous and highly prized stemware manufactured by Heisey was designed by Dorothy Thorpe.
It is called "Hydrangea" and features a line of stemware with a base created in the form of a hydrangea flower. These were offered by Heisey in a few shades, they are truly beautiful.
Not all Dorothy Thorpe Pieces are marked. This inconsistency has the capacity to drive some folks crazy when trying to differentiate Thorpe from other sand carved glass artists of the same period. In most cases, Thorpe sandblasted her trademarked logo into her pieces.
The logo shows a small, upper-case D next to a larger upper case T which has an exaggerated top bar making the T go over the upper case D and a smaller, upper-case C opposite the D, on the other side of the center T. In some cases it will look like DTD but upon closer examination it looks like DTC. In some cases, Thorpe used a label. There does not appear to be any logic or reasoning behind which pieces were labeled or marked with the trademark logo. It is thought that pieces that missed the sand blast process were labeled; other thoughts are that it was simply what the company policy was at the time a particular piece was made while other pieces were decorated for the company who manufactured the glass. Like Grosz, Billie Rae and other artists of the time, including some Verlys for Heisey, these pieces would not be signed by the artist if offered for sale by the manufacturer.
Dorothy Thorpe also decorated tableware for companies like Crown Lynn in New Zealand as well as several of her own lines. It is not uncommon to find sets of dinnerware with some plates marked with a manufacturer's mark as well as Dorothy Thorpe's mark and some dishes in the same set bear only the Dorothy Thorpe mark. Some people may be confused or think the plates with two markings are counterfeits. This is not the case at all. Simply put, Dorothy Thorpe did not manufacture anything; she purchased blanks from any number of other companies and added her own stamp before the decorated dinnerware was fired after the decoration was applied. In the middle of the century, Dorothy Thorpe began to experiment with Lucite and began to add it to some of her regular pieces as well as creating new pieces. Among the most common are the "pretzel" silver band candles. Recently, a number of Lucite and glass items have been showing up such as glass cake trays with twisted Lucite stands. Dorothy Thorpe did not manufacture these. There are no known examples of any Thorpe Lucite and glass work that were not either part of her Allegro, Silver Band or sandblasted floral pieces. It's important to remember that Thorpe was a decorator; she did not make blank glassware. The pieces showing up on eBay are not Thorpe and they have no provenance.
In addition to her line of Silver Band, Thorpe also made a line called "Allegro". The difference in these designs is that Silver Band used a band of 1" sterling silver around the top rim of most pieces. Some serving pieces might have an additional line. This sterling will tarnish. Allegro used a band of metallic material that does not tarnish. Allegro has a mirror like appearance. That being said, that is the only difference. The same 1"
band would be applied to the top of the Allegro pieces. There are a number of West Virginia Glass pieces with a mirror finish that extends down most of the piece. Those are not Thorpe. Almost all barware in the Silver Band and Allegro lines had paper labels or foil labels. They are not sand etched with the logo. There is also a gold band decoration. Thorpe ceramic dinnerware most commonly seen is "Persimmon" and "Periwinkle" which are named for the colors used in the dishes and not the design itself. There are complete dinnerware sets with accompanying serving pieces in both decorations. There is also a crystal (clear) colored line known as "Spring Harvest" which is a transferware (not hand painted) decoration of spring flowers in a wreath around the plates, bowls and on serving pieces. Larger pieces will be signed with Dorothy Thorpe in yellow.
Another Thorpe odd practice was taking some of their most popular decorations and stenciling them on to glass.
This has been seen in the Thorpe Iris decoration which has been stenciled on to glass as well as sandblasted on to glass. The stenciled glass is not signed, but the pattern is identical. These likely came with a paper or foil label. Very few Thorpe pieces have color, but there are a number of smaller trays featuring iris and other flowers that have some pale greens, blues, pinks, etc.
Resin: There are a number of resin pieces which bear labels marked Dorothy Thorpe, Inc. Mexico. Their date of manufacture is unknown and the fact that they were manufactured at all calls their authenticity into question. Also interesting is that none of these sculptures are of any of the flowers or floral items that Thorpe was best known for. Also interesting is that the label used is typically only seen on Silver Band or Allegro pieces in that they are white with silver lettering with a silver band around the edge. The labels say "Dorothy C. Thorpe, Inc. Mexico which implies that Dorothy Thorpe's company was located in Mexico. Otherwise, the items should say "Made in Mexico". Dorothy Thorpe's company was located in San Fernando, California and there is no reference in any biography about her ever doing resin pieces in Mexico.
Beware of imitations! Companies are making new items that look nearly identical to old Thorpe decorations. When paying for Thorpe pieces, the rule of supply and demand applies. A complete barware set, including stand and coasters, can be very hard to find, expect to pay more. The rule for Thorpe floral decorations is the larger the piece, the higher the price, the rarer the piece the higher the price. There are very rare one of a kind pieces that command high prices. These include clocks, coffee pots, etc. If you're a collector, you know what you want to spend and you'll weigh the odds of finding the piece again.