Collection of antique memorabilia documents history
Patti Sells | News-Telegram Feature Editor

Oct. 2, 2005 -- History buffs will want to stop by Heritage Park Museum where a collection of early American glassware will be on display until December.

�You can learn the country�s history through glassware,� said collector Jerry Lamb. �In the early days, glass was used to commemorate important people and events.�

The collection currently on display honors Admiral George Dewey, known throughout history as “The Hero of Manila.” It includes Dewey pitchers, tumblers and butter dishes, as well as coins, spoons, a nautical pipe, and first editions of books on Dewey’s famous 1898 battle in the waters off the Philippine Islands in which every Spanish warship was sunk with not one United States ship lost nor any American soldiers killed.

Dewey was declared a national hero and named full Admiral of the U.S. Navy in 1899.

Jerry said glassware provided a way of documenting and remembering history through glass souvenirs that were often passed down from one generation to the next.

In fact, Jerry’s wife, Lynda, is a distant relative of the Dewey family, and some of the pieces they have were handed down through her family.

�Historical glassware usually surfaces when someone in the family passes away,� explained Jerry. �Everybody has family members who keep things as mementos. After that person dies, usually no one wants the pieces because they don�t know the age of it or realize the value of it. Sometimes that�s the only way this stuff surfaces and ends up back in circulation.

�Who knows where some of these things have been since 1898?� he added, laughing.

Jerry and Lynda are both glassware collectors and moved to the area in July of last year from California.

Though new residents of Hopkins County, Jerry said he spent many of his childhood summers with his grandparents, Cass and Lela Newsom Braziel, who lived in the Greenview community off of FM 1567.

�My fondest memories as a child were spent there, and I still have an aunt, Myrtie Shipley, who lives in Sulphur Springs,� said Jerry, whose mother also now lives in Greenview where he and Lynda have also made their home. �I�ve always loved Hopkins County.�

Jerry attributes his start in glassware collecting to his grandmother.

�When I was 12 years old, she gave me a little green daisy and button pattern Christmas dish,� he said, admitting the interest of historical glassware collecting really didn�t take hold until later in life. �It�s probably worth about $2, but I wouldn�t take anything for it. Out of all my collections, it�s my most treasured piece.�

�The Lambs have been collecting early American glassware, as well as other specialized patterns, since the early 1970s.

�I�ve just always had an interest in history, and we found that collecting the glassware is a hobby me and my wife can enjoy together,� Jerry said. �We�ll go antiquing, have a nice lunch somewhere, and just make a day of it.�

They both agreed that the best part of collecting is the thrill of the hunt, and although they do occasionally find a piece at a yard sale, most of their treasures are discovered in small, out-of-the-way antique shops.

�And even then, a lot of people don�t realize what they have,� said Lynda.

On one such occasion, Jerry came across a flag plate he had only seen in collection books.

�We study the books quite a bit,� explained Jerry, who said when he saw a shop owner unpacking the plate he immediately picked it up and asked how much he wanted for it. �The guy said, �I�ll take $15 for it.��

At that point, Jerry said, he exclaimed “$15 bucks!”, knowing the real value of it was closer to $125. The man, misunderstanding his shock said, “OK then, make it $10.”

�We just paid him and ran,� laughed Lynda.

�You just never know what you�re going to find or where you�re going to find it,� Jerry added.

The Lambs estimate that they have several hundred pieces they have collected from coast to coast throughout the years.

�One piece in itself may not be that valuable, but when you put a collection of it together, or make a set, then the value increases dramatically,� explained Jerry. �The real trick is trying to put a set of anything together from one era.

�But it�s really amazing how much old glass does still exist,� he added.

Not only do the Lambs collect the glassware, they also use it, as well.

�We do use it, and unfortunately we have broken a few pieces,� said Lynda. �But I feel like I have earned the right to break it.�

�We just think it�s a shame to lock them away and not display them for others to enjoy or use them ourselves,� Jerry said. �I mean, that�s what they were made for. And a lot of times you can purchase these pieces for less than what you would pay for new things.�

The Lambs also have collected, and use, a few pieces that survived the San Francisco earthquake of 1989.

�I figure if it can make it through that and last this long, then I should be able to use it,� Lynda said, laughing.

Other patterns collected by the Lambs will be on display at Heritage Museum throughout the coming year beginning with their centennial collection that will be on display sometime in December.

�I am really looking forward to that one,� said Cindy Elder, who works at the museum. �We have really had a good response to this collection. Anyone interested in history will really appreciate the Admiral Dewey Collection, and we hope lots of people come out to see it.�

Heritage Park, operated by the Hopkins County Historical Society, is located at 416 North Jackson St., at the intersection of Houston and Jackson streets, just southeast of Northeast Texas Farmers Co-op.

Older Archives

Looking for News-Telegram Sports and News Archives for January 2004 - November 2008