Introduction

As an auction house with roots in Meriden, Connecticut, the decorative arts made in that city are Nest Egg Auctions’ unquestioned area of greatest expertise. Of all the products made in Meriden, however, none are quite as intriguing or stunning as Wave Crest, Nakara, and Kelva pieces made by the C.F. Monroe Company. These items are symbolic of a time and place: Gilded Age America, where the taste for exquisite European style decorative arts created a homegrown industry in these wares. From vases and dresser boxes to framed plaques, C.F. Monroe objects are sought after by collectors today for their artistic vision, delicate details, and period aesthetic.

Wave Crest Swirl Dresser Box. C.F. Monroe Company. American, late 19th - early 20th century.

History

The C.F. Monroe Company was founded in 1880 by Charles F. Monroe, a glass decorator. His new company, which quickly grew to fill many buildings in downtown Meriden, specialized in the decoration of milky white Opal Ware glass and the making of Opal Ware objects. C.F. Monroe did not make their own Opal Ware glass, but rather ordered blank pieces which they treated and then decorated. The C.F. Monroe Company was a major employer of artists, who painted wares for the company. The company reached its zenith between 1890 and 1910, and went out of business in 1916.

Wave Crest Service Bell & Bud Vase. C.F. Monroe Company. American, late 19th - early 20th century.

The Product Lines of C.F. Monroe

The C.F. Monroe Company had a variety of product lines. The most well-known is Wave Crest, but the other two most important were the Nakara and Kelva lines. Generally speaking, Wave Crest is the most decorated, with many different colors, raised motifs, and a variety of decorations, including hand-painted and transfer details. Nakara was marked by smoother, sleeker lines and only occasional raised decoration. Kelva was marked by a characteristic mottled surface, with the clean lines of Nakara. Marks with these product names are somewhat common on the bottom (or feet) of C.F. Monroe pieces, but unmarked pieces are more widely found. Generally, which line a certain object is from can be identified by its attributes.

Nakara Collars and Cuffs box. C.F. Monroe Company. American, late 19th - early 20th century.
Kelva humidor / cigar jar. C.F. Monroe Company. American, late 19th - early 20th century.

Types

C.F. Monroe made a number of object types for a variety of uses. Most popular are their boxes. These boxes come in a variety of sizes, and are often deemed “dresser boxes”. Other common object types include humidors, letter receivers, broom holders, and even small desk sets. Most, if not all, of these pieces feature the Opal Ware glass for much of their body, with mountings (box hinges, handles, etc.) made of gilt (ormolu) or silver plate base metal.  The curly-cues, dolphins, and other design elements of the metal fittings recalls the earlier Rococo period, and shows the vast popularity of this aesthetic in the late 19th century.

Wave Crest "Ducks" Vase. C.F. Monroe Company. American, late 19th - early 20th century.

The most monumental of C.F. Monroe pieces are their volute vases. These vases often sport much hand painted decoration, such as a figure, flowers, or, rarely, a scene. The most exclusive pieces of all, however, are the plaques. These plaques are entirely art objects, and showcase the painter’s skill. Forest interiors, scenes of romance, figures, and even landscapes are found on Wave Crest plaques. Fine examples of vases and plaques are the most sought after of all C.F. Monroe pieces, with prices reaching into the thousands.

Wave Crest "Fairies" Plaque. C.F. Monroe Company. American, late 19th - early 20th century.

Selling C.F. Monroe at Nest Egg Auctions

Nest Egg Auctions was founded in the city of Meriden, and we have handled Wave Crest, Nakara, Kelva, and other C.F. Monroe products since the beginning. Collectors turn to us when they want to buy and when they want to sell. What is more, we have a worldwide customer base and shipping to most countries. Most importantly, we get excellent prices for C.F. Monroe objects, and we appreciate their history, as it is our history too.

Selling C.F. Monroe at Nest Egg Auctions

Have Wave Crest, Nakara, or Kelva pieces that you'd like to sell? Nest Egg Auctions would love to sell them for you for the highest prices!
Wave Crest Eggcrate / Puffy Dresser Box. C.F. Monroe Company. American, late 19th - early 20th century.

Further Reading

Wilfred R. Cohen. Wave Crest: The Glass of C.F. Monroe. Paducah, KY: Collector Books, 1987.

Albert Christian Revi. Nineteenth Century Glass: Its Genesis and DevelopmentRevised Edition. New York, NY & Camden, NJ: Thomas Nelson, 1971.