Jenny Lind by Fostoria is a beautiful milk glass pattern with raised floral and geometric designs surrounding a cameo of Jenny Lind, a Swedish opera star who rose to fame in the nineteenth century. In our museum feature this month, we feature three 10 3/4-inches tall Jenny Lind cologne flasks, each crafted in a different color of milk glass – white, pink, and aqua. Based on an earlier pattern Fostoria had produced without a cameo, the white milk glass Jenny Lind pattern was made from 1954 to 1965, while the pink and aqua milk glass patterns were produced for just two years, from 1957 to 1959, making them especially rare. All pieces in the Jenny Lind pattern were made for vanity sets, and include items like pin trays, pomade boxes, puff boxes, handkerchief boxes, glove boxes, decanters, jewel boxes, and pitchers and tumblers for the bedside, and the cologne flasks featured here. That Fostoria would choose to dedicate an entire pattern to Jenny Lind comes as no surprise, considering Lind’s status as one of America’s first celebrities.
Born October 6, 1820 in Stockholm, Sweden, Jenny Lind’s singing talent was evident from a young age. She was accepted to the Royal Theater School in Sweden when she was nine years old, and within a year, was performing on stage. By the time she was seventeen, her work with the Royal Swedish Opera was starting to garner critical acclaim. By the age of twenty, Lind was not only a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, but also a court singer to Charles XIV & III John, the king of Sweden and Norway. Lind’s brilliant performances with the Royal Swedish Opera led to her talent being known across Europe, and she began performing for audiences in Vienna, Germany, and England, where she became a favorite of Queen Victoria. During this period, Lind began what would become a close friendship with composer Felix Mendelssohn. The two worked together on many occasions, and several of Mendelssohn’s compositions were written with Lind’s voice in mind. By the late 1840s, Lind’s performances had made her quite wealthy, and she began what would become a lifetime of philanthropic efforts, donating large sums to a variety of charities and causes.
By 1849, word of Lind’s talents had caught the attention of American showman P.T. Barnum. Although Barnum had never heard Lind sing, he knew her concerts were selling out across Europe and wanted to leverage her fame into a successful American tour. Having grown tired of giving operatic performances, Lind agreed to partner with Barnum, and signed a contract agreement for an American tour of up to 93 concerts. In preparation for Lind’s arrival, Barnum began a massive advertising campaign, heavily promoting not only Lind’s voice (emphasizing her reputation as “The Swedish Nightingale”), but also her gentle demeanor and charitable spirit. Although mostly unknown in America at the time, Barnum’s promotional work did its job. By the time Lind’s ship landed in New York in September of 1850, an enthusiastic crowd of over 40,000 had assembled to greet her. With Lind’s concerts getting rave reviews (and helped in no small part by Barnum’s advertising savvy), America was soon swept up in a sort of “Lindmania.” There were reports of hysteria at her appearances, and her name became attached to a wide variety of items, including clothes, locomotives, furniture, varieties of vegetables, parks, streets, even a town in California and an island in Canada. After satisfying her contract with Barnum, Lind returned to Europe, where she focused on starting a family and continuing her philanthropic efforts. Lind died in 1887 at the age of 67, leaving much of her wealth to charity.
Milk glass like that used in Fostoria’s Jenny Lind pattern is one of the oldest types of art glass. Originally called “opal ware,” milk glass is made by adding tin oxide, fluorides, arsenic, or other additives during the glass-making process. The production of milk glass is believed to date back to the sixteenth century, but it didn’t achieve widespread popularity until the late 1700s, when decorated milk glass became used as a cheap alternative to fine porcelain. Milk glass gained another surge of popularity during the Victorian period, when mechanized production allowed companies to mass produce a vast array of milk glass products. Interest in milk glass waned around World War I, but returned in the 1930s. Today, milk glass remains a hugely popular collectible.
Although the Jenny Lind cologne flasks in our museum are not for sale, we do have a Jenny Lind cologne flask available for purchase from our inventory. Replacements, Ltd. also carries a wide selection of Fostoria items in Jenny Lind and other patterns that are available for purchase, as well as Jenny Lind china, crystal, and silver patterns from many other manufacturers; be sure to browse our web site. And remember that we always invite you to visit our facilities – here you’ll see a stunning variety of silver, china, crystal, and collectibles! Our retail store and museum are open from 9:00 am – 7:00 pm ET, 7 days (except holidays); free tours are available from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm ET, 7 days. The retail store and museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. We look forward to seeing you!