Q: I own a glass dish that has a portrait of a man in the center and the words “We mourn our nation’s loss” inscribed around it. There’s a wide border of swags around the dish. We think the dish has something to do with President Garfield and also something to do with Vermont. It has been in our family for over 70 years and we would like to know its history and value.
A: Your plate was made as a memorial to President James A. Garfield, who was assassinated in 1881. The center picture is a bust of Garfield. The pattern is called “Garfield Drape,” but it’s sometimes called “Canadian Drape.” It has been attributed to Adams & Co. of Pittsburgh, but more recent research suggests it may have been made by Burlington Glass Works of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Perhaps that’s how it got the name “Canadian Drape.” The pattern was first made in the 1870s. After Garfield died, memorial plates in that pattern were made with his bust in the middle. The only connection to Vermont is that Vice President Chester A. Arthur, who became president after Garfield’s death, was born in Vermont. Different versions of your plate were made. Some include the words “Born Nov 19, 1831, Shot July 2, 1881, Died Sep 19, 1881.” A colored glass Garfield memorial plate retails for about $75.