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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Appraising history at Waterford library event
Journal Times, January 31st

Barbara Eash looks at a piece of silverware owned by Phyllis Nelson of Mount Pleasant during an Antique Appraisal Fair Saturday at the Waterford Public Library, 101 N. River St. Eash is the MPTV Appraisal Fair coordinator and member of the Certified ...Read more

One-of-a-kind pieces unveiled at antique show
Quad-Cities Online, January 31st

Ms. Niles' shop specializes in jewelry from 1850 to 1940, as well as glassware, furniture and books from the 19th century, which she displayed at the 57th annual Rock Island Antique Show at the Plumbers' & Pipefitters' Union Hall. Her parents also were...Read more

35th Annual Boerne Antique Show
Hill Country Current, January 31st

The show features over 60 dealers along with their fantastic collections of antique and vintage merchandise like American Oak, jewelry, fine art, kitchen and home décor, antique jewelry, glassware, toys, antique paper, turquoise, silver and so, so much...Read more

WESTPORT ESTATE SALE By Within Reason CT
The Daily Voice, January 30th

Ottoman, Round Oak Table & 4 Chairs, Upholstered Armchair, Leather Ottoman, Henredon Coffee Table, Beds, Side Tables, Steuben Glass, Lighting, Glassware, Crystal, Vintage Bottles, Bronze Sculptures, Antique Maps, Pottery, American Slot Machine c...Read more

Vintage Cove -- something for everyone
San Jose Mercury News, January 27th

Winning Best Antique Shop in Pacifica, Vintage Cove on Palmetto Avenue is well worth a look for that unexpected find. They have a little bit of everything and something to fit all tastes. Vintage Cove's owners, Efrain and Yolanda Torres, have been in...Read more

Junk and Disorderly
Williamson Daily News, January 27th

The new shop has art work (old pictures and paintings), antique furniture, vintage toys, antiquated glassware and much more. Some of the popular articles they have in stock have been some old bicycles. They also have gift items that are not necessarily ...Read more

Pilot Club antiques show and sale delights collectors, helps charities
Florida Times-Union, January 25th

“We are the oldest continuously running antique show in the Southeast United States,” DeSousa said. Antique cut glassware, jewelry and antique sterling silver flatware, DeSousa said, were among the most popular items sold during the event. Chartered in ...Read more

Normal library hosting antique appraiser
Bloomington Pantagraph, January 25th

"I work hard to make it an entertaining event," said Moran, who has written 27 antique reference books and formerly was senior editor of antiques and collectibles books. Moran said he talks of his more than 500 antique appraisal programs and some of...Read more