Purchase Story

The Engel Collection, Parts One and Two

American Carnival Glass Association, Greenville, Ohio; Millersburg Glass Association, Millersburg, Ohio

Photos courtesy Jim Wroda Auction Services

The Karen and Doug Engel carnival glass collection brought a record of about $1.2 million in its first sale and realized another $300,000 in a second auction. The Engel collection was composed of about 600 pieces; the average price per piece at auction was about $2500. (No buyer’s premium charged.)

The bulk of the collection was sold June 16 and 17, 2017, at the American Carnival Glass Association (ACGA) 2017 convention in Greenville, Ohio. The Engel collection had fewer than 100 items of Millersburg glass, and these were sold at the Millersburg Glass Association (MGA) Fall Gathering auction held on October 7, 2017. The latter auction was held in downtown Millersburg, Ohio, on the courthouse lawn, just a few blocks from the old Millersburg Glass Company plant.

At almost $1.2 million, the June 16 and 17 total is the highest amount realized for a carnival glass auction, according to auctioneer Jim Wroda of Jim Wroda Auction Services. (David Doty, whose website [www.ddoty.com] tracks the carnival glass market, also said the same in a short piece discussing the ACGA sale.) The Engels’ Millersburg pieces brought just a little over $300,000 at the MGA sale, Wroda said.


This swung 14½" mid-size Northwood Tree Trunk vase has marigold applied over moonstone glass and brought $10,000. ACGA.


Aqua opalescent 12½" mid-size Northwood Tree Trunk vase, $14,000. ACGA.


Ice-green 18½" Northwood Tree Trunk funeral vase, $18,000. ACGA.

Karen Engel passed away in September 2016 after a long battle with cancer. She was well known for her involvement in community organizations in Albany, Oregon, where she and her husband, Doug, lived in their restored 19th-century home, the Cathey house. She was treasurer of the Heart of America Carnival Glass Association and a founding member of the Pacific Northwest Carnival Glass Club. Karen was a recipient of the Britt Award, given to persons recognized for their dedication to and promotion of carnival glass collecting.

Doug, who survives Karen, said he and Karen collected for about 40 years. In addition to carnival glass, they also built up collections of pottery, china, and antique furniture.

The Engels chased after carnival glass at sales across the United States. Doug said, “We traveled all over buying carnival because you can’t find a lot of it in Oregon. We went to a lot of sales in Missouri, Florida, California. We came to three of the sales in Millersburg.”

The October Millersburg sale came about through a conversation MGA president Randy Jones had with the Engels three years ago. Karen had wanted the glass to come back to Millersburg for one of the MGA’s triennial auctions on the courthouse lawn. The Engels had only about 100 pieces of Millersburg, not enough for a sale. So Jones rounded out the sale with pieces of his own collection, and a few consignors kicked in some pieces as well to bring the number of lots up to 271.


This celeste-blue Northwood Tornado vase whimsy with a tricorner top is believed to be the only known, though another has been reported. It sold for $60,000. ACGA.

The top lot of the two sales was a celeste-blue Northwood Tornado vase whimsy with a tricorner top. The vase’s top was tucked in, then flared out in a ruffle treatment. The only one known, it brought $60,000 at the ACGA auction.


This Millersburg Feather and Heart water pitcher is the only known Millersburg water picture in vaseline. It was sold by a consignor at the MGA auction and brought $32,000. MGA.

A consigned piece was the highest-selling lot of the Millersburg auction, a vaseline Feather and Heart water pitcher that sold for $32,000. It is the only one known and probably the only Millersburg water pitcher to be found in vaseline.

Throughout both sales, the rarities just kept coming. Descriptions of “only one known” and “one of only two or three known” were the rule rather than the exception. The rarities crossed the auction block in unprecedented numbers, and, in terms of a carnival glass sale, in unheard-of volume. For example, while one Northwood Pulled Husk corn vase might be seen as the centerpiece of another sale, the June 16 and 17 sale had four rare variants, all listed as whimsies in the sale catalog. The best of the four, in green with a “twisted” body, rope-edged base, and a rope ring connector between the body and base, sold for $20,000.


Green 8" Northwood Pulled Husk corn vase whimsy with twisted body, $20,000. ACGA.


Purple 7" Northwood Pulled Husk corn vase whimsy with rounded, rose bowl-style top, $19,000. ACGA.

Two Fenton Rustic funeral vases were among the standouts of a crop of dozens of valuable Fenton and Northwood vases. One in emerald green and swung out to 23", the tallest Rustic funeral vase known, sold for $10,000. The other, standing 18¾" tall and the only one known in vaseline, sold for $15,000.

There were many one-of-a-kind whimsies and lots of great, rare advertising pieces.

Likewise, the Millersburg sale is not likely to be repeated in terms of groupings of rare shapes and patterns. It is probably the first time six Millersburg chop plates ever appeared in one auction, Wroda said. It may be the first time that no fewer than three Mitered Ovals vases and four Rose Column vases came up for sale at once, or two Honeycomb and Hobstar vases, which brought a total of $23,000.


Only known blue Fenton bell made for the B.P.O.E. (Elks) convention in Portland, Oregon, $15,000. The bell was sold with an album that contained research on the bell and the Elks. ACGA.


Purple 6½" Northwood Penny & Gentles plate with plain back, $20,000. ACGA.


Only known peach opalescent Dugan Butterfly and Tulip square, footed bowl, $17,000. ACGA.

The glass in the Engel collection was a good example of the difference that rarity of shape, color, or pattern can make. The pictured pieces are all rare and all exceptional in quality, and it would be redundant to say so in the description of each. All pieces pictured are from the Engel collection, except where noted.

For more information, visit (www.jimwrodaauction.com).


Aqua opalescent 8½" Northwood Poinsettia and Lattice footed bowl, $10,500. ACGA.


Aqua opalescent 10" Peacock and Urn master ice cream bowl, $20,000. ACGA.


Blue Northwood Oriental Poppy tankard with electric iridescence, $11,000. ACGA.


Purple 9" Fenton Lotus and Grape plate with electric iridescence, $10,500.


The dragons are missing from this marigold 9" Fenton Dragon and Strawberry plate. The only one known, it sold for $40,000. ACGA.


Aqua opalescent Northwood Peacock at Urn footed fruit bowl, $11,000. ACGA.


Originally published in the January 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest

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