Antique and vintage glassware encompasses countless types of decorative-yet-functional containers, bowls, and platters produced from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s. Examples include pressed glass, cut glass, carnival glass, Depression glass, elegant glass, and milk glass.

Of these techniques, cut glass is the oldest, going back some 2,000 years, almost to the introduction in the West of glassblowing itself. Then as now, glass was cut by holding a cooled piece up to a grinding wheel to carve grooves in its side. The effect could be used to produce decorations and designs, as well as patterns. Another type of cut glass could also be called carved glass. In the earliest surviving example of this technique, a piece of 1st-century cameo glass known as the Portland Vase, a top layer of white glass has been carved away to reveal the background of dark blue glass behind it.

More recently, during the so-called "American Brilliant" period from the late 19th century until the early part of the 20th, intricately cut pieces of leaded crystal on a dining table was a key signifier of social status and class. But the American Brilliant era was brief, its optical opulence interrupted by World War I and dealt a final blow during the Depression, when less-expensive pressed glass was embraced by budget-conscious consumers.

In the United States, the production of pressed glass proliferated in the mid-1800s, when the Early American Pattern Glass (or EAPG) industry matured. Manufacturers such as New England Glass Company of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Cambridge Glass Company of Cambridge, Ohio, were leaders, as was McKee of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. These companies and many others like them, often produced the same patterns (albeit with very minor differences to avoid lawsuits), with names like Bellflower and Wildflower, Westward-Ho, and Lion, and Thousand Eye and Three Face. The numerous firms that came out of Ohio were particularly strong, including Heisey, Fostoria, and Jennette.

During the 1920s, many pressed-glass manufacturers struggled as cut glass from France (Baccarat) and Ireland (Waterford) became relatively cheap. But the stock-market crash of 1929 gave a boost to even less-expensive forms of pressed glass, known, fittingly, as Depression glass. Now it was Anchor-Hocking’s turn to shine. Also from Ohio, the firm manufactured at an impressive rate, producing 90 pieces of glassware a minute, allowing it to practically give away Circle, Mayfair, Spiral, and other popular glassware patterns for pennies each.

Concurrently, companies such as Fenton and Northwood were cranking out a sort of poor-man’s Tiffany Favrile known as carnival glass, since it was so often given away as prizes at carnivals. Fenton made roughly 150 patterns of carnival, with descriptive names like Waterlily and Cattails, Peacock Tail, Thistle, and Wreath of Roses. Because the competition was so fierce, companies resorted to all sorts of visual gimmicks to distinguish themselves. One by-product of this race to the bottom was Vaseline or uranium glass, which glowed green when exposed to UV light thanks to its sprayed coating of uranium salt on its surface.


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Recent News: Glassware

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Valentine's Day restaurants? Head Off The Eaten Path
The News-Press, February 9th

Cherie Foster's small kitchen sits amid antique glassware and paintings from local artists at this mishmash of a restaurant in the heart of old Olga. It's little more than a stovetop, two griddles and a refrigerator for keeping the sweet tea and deli...Read more

A passion for antiquing drives store owners through a life-long career
Greenwood Index Journal (press release), February 8th

As his interest in the mix of nostalgia and appreciation for the craftsmanship of long-lasting pottery, glassware and furniture pieces grew, Gorajm began going to more shops and auctions. He started his first shop in the Columbia area in 1969, and a...Read more

A vintage Valentine's date can be found in Aurora
Statesman Journal, February 8th

Johnson said the couple comes into the antique store filled with glassware and mid-century modern furniture each year and purchases a pair of matching wine glasses. They go to dinner the same night and use the wine glasses with their meal. Throughout ...Read more

Antique store opens in former Marttila Drug Store
Mesabi Daily News, February 8th

Here's a sampling: Glassware, art, mid-century, books, vintage jewelry, sports, radios, cast iron, kitchenware, signs, china, linens/textiles, toys/games, holiday items, clocks, dolls, paintings, re-purposed, primitives, retro, decorative furnishings...Read more

5 Great Secondhand Shopping Destinations in Memphis
StyleBlueprint (blog), February 8th

Secondhand shopping is not only a great way to find one-of-a-kind items, but it's also environmentally conscious. From clothing and accessories to housewares and furniture, there are lots of great options in Memphis to find that perfect new-to-you piece...Read more

The Early Word on Left Door in Logan Circle
Eater DC, February 8th

The Beautiful Glassware News: Yelper Suzy D. writes, "The glassware was...beautiful and fit the vintage and beautiful, almost feminine, theme." Instagrammer @jimenez_trejo says simply, "Glassware on fleek." The Diamonds Are Forever Is a Winner News: ...Read more

Spring, the highly anticipated French restaurant in DTLA, opens today
Los Angeles Times, February 8th

He and Sarmadi found the artwork, the furniture, even the antique glassware in the bar all on various trips to local flea markets and excursions to Europe. The restaurant, which is done in white and pale green, has two fountains and two trees, and is...Read more

How a Bunch of Antique Vases Came to Be Worth More Than $1 Million
Bloomberg, February 2nd

By the early 1950s it had reversed course and totally eliminated glass production. Today, Lalique is synonymous with crystal. Along with regular lines of vases, tableware, and decoration, the company makes limited-edition and one-off pieces...Read more