by Barbara Norman
You notice an incredibly unusual angular piece of art glass and wonder, "Who could have made that?" Whenever a glass or deco collector sees a cubistic looking piece of molded glass, the question should often be, "Is this Ruba Rombic?" Made by the Consolidated Glass Company in Coraopolis Pennsylvania from 1928 until 1932, Ruba Rombic has become sought after by Depression and other glass collectors as well as deco devotees. The feature which makes this glass so striking is its oblique angles, with no regularity or expectation of line, yet with grace and form unique to this American glass.
One Ruba Rombic catches your eye, the entire magnificent area is open to you considered by the collectors as the quintessential art deco glassware of the United States. Ruba Rombic gets its name from the word "rhomboid", meaning a geometric shape with no parallel lines. One seller believed that Ruba stood for "rubaiy", meaning epic or poem. Which ever version you prefer, both definitions fit. The glass is clearly from Haley and its lines possess the grace of an epic or poem.
Sold only at specialty and fine department stores throughout the United States and Montreal, Canada, Ruba Rombic came in a variety of styled pieces (37) including dinnerware as well as vases. Whiskey decanters, toilet water and perfume bottle are especially prized. Colors include Jungle Green, Smokey Topaz, Opalescent, jade (cased), Lilac (cased), Honey (cased), and even silver.
How can watching old movie shorts give you another glimpse of Ruba Rombic? The Laurel and Hardy 1932 short entitled, Blotto showed a nightclub scene in which Stan and Oliver are served alcoholic beverages contained in Ruba Rombic tumblers which incidentally fall to the floor as they believe they are becoming inebriated (from water carefully substituted in their bottle by a suspicious wife). Today, collectors watching this short may gasp as the tumblers crash to the floor. This is partially due to the destruction of the magnificent glass as well as its escalating prices.
Want to know more? You see a piece you think is Ruba Rombic but it looks slightly different than that you have seen before. Something about it strikes the viewer as not quite the same as the original Ruba Rombic. It is probably a piece of Kopp Ruba Rombic made in Swissdale Pennsylvania in 1928 by Nicholas Kopp, a former worker from the Consolidated Company. A picture of Kopp Ruba Rombic shows the striking similarities to that made by Consolidated. Kopp only made three basic styles of Ruba Rombic including a 6 1/2 " and a 8 1/2" vase, lamps and powder jars. Kopp colors differed slightly from those made by Consolidated to include a tobacco (amber), light green and red. Powder boxes may be frosted. None of these colors are the original Ruba Rombic. The angles on the Kopp pieces differ from those on the Consolidated ones. After viewing both companies side by side, it is unlikely an identification error would be made. Although not as prized as the Consolidated originals, Kopp pieces are rapidly becoming collectables.
Pottery in Ruba Rombic? Yes! The designer of the Ruba Rombic line, Ruben Haley designed a line of pottery in the style of Ruba Rombic for the Muncie Pottery Company in Muncie Indiana in 1929. The Muncie glazes along with the pottery medium bring out even another dimension to the cubistic forms and shapes.
Now that all many of the questions regarding Ruba Rombic have been clarified, more unravel. What other glass did Consolidated make in the Deco style? Wasn't there another company called Phoenix in the Pittsburgh area that produced art glass as well? Did Consolidated or Phoenix make the Dancing Nudes? How about the Dancing Nymphs? Or even the Pan vases? There's much more to tell.
Barbara Norman lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan and is Past President and Advisor to the Board of the National Phoenix and Consolidated Art Glass Club.