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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At the galleries
Green Bay Press Gazette, July 22nd

Eclectic gallery of original mixed-media and found object assemblages, mosaic glass windows, found-object robots, ceramic sculpture, handmade birdhouses, photography, oil and watercolor paintings, pressed flower collages, cards with vintage toys and ...Read more

Arkansas State Briefs
Baxter Bulletin, July 22nd

EL DORADO (AP) – An antique dealers group in Arkansas is hoping to make the southern part of the state a top destination for enthusiasts of the vintage goods. The El Dorado News-Times reports the Union County Antique Dealers Association will host a...Read more

Bethel UM Church hosts 55th Antique Show
Cape Gazette, July 22nd

Antique dealers from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware were on hand selling jewelry, silverware, glassware, postcards, porcelein, furniture, rugs and many decorative items. Proceeds from the annual sale are for the renovation of the...Read more

Guardian cookware's innovative lid made cooking faster
azcentral, July 22nd

Pieces made before 1940 had heavy aluminum lids, but due to rationing during World War II the metal tops were replaced with ones made of glass. The cookware ... The Arizona Antique Radio Club is one of the more active groups for collectors. Contact is ...Read more

Taste Sicily's staples, from seafood to cous cous
USA TODAY, July 22nd

At this quirkily charming restaurant in the Ortigia neighborhood, furnished with antique embroidered table linens and mismatched plates and glassware, each menu is a work of art handmade by family members, festooned with fabric and faux gems, and ...Read more

Antique show rolls into south Arkansas
Arkansas Online (subscription), July 22nd

EL DORADO — An antique dealers group in Arkansas is hoping to make the southern part of the state a top destination for enthusiasts of the vintage goods. The El Dorado News-Times reported that the Union County Antique Dealers Association will host a...Read more

Putnam County antique glass enthusiasts show off their collections
Cookeville Herald Citizen, July 13th

There will also be 21 glass vendors set up with early American pattern glass, American-made pottery, kitchen items and other vintage glassware. Admission to the show will be $6, with proceeds benefiting the Fostoria Glass Museum in Moundsville, W. Va., ...Read more

Victorian side chair, ruby-stained glass, china vase and vintage hair dressing ...
The Plain Dealer (blog), June 24th

ANSWER: Ruby-stained glassware items were popular souvenirs at fairs and expositions in the late 19th- and early 20th- centuries. They were often inscribed with names, places or dates. The decoration process includes painting a pressed glass blank with...Read more