Slag glass, also known as marble glass or malachite, is a type of opaque, streaked pressed glass. Production of slag glass originated in late-19th-century England, where glass manufacturers are thought to have added slag from iron-smelting works to molten glass to create a range of effects—from tortoiseshell to marbling. Among other uses, slag glass was a popular material for lampshades.

One of the first glass foundries to produce slag glass (although it was not called that at the time) was the Gateshead, England, firm of Sowerby, which patented its recipe for purple malachite glass in 1878. Sold into the U.S. market as "blackberries and cream," this popular formula was followed by other malachite colors, including a lemon-yellow called Giallo, a drab green called Pomona, a blue malachite called Sorbini, and Sowerby’s famous Brown, which is very difficult to find today.

Since the process of making slag glass was shrouded in a certain amount of mystery, stories sprang up to try and account for the process behind the effects. For example, it was a good bet that Sowerby’s Blue Nugget color of 1883 was the result of adding cadmium to molten glass, but how to explain Gold Nugget? Stories soon spread that John George Sowerby, son of the company’s founder, was tossing gold sovereigns into batches of amber glass to create this dramatic hue.

In the United States, manufacturers such as Westmoreland and Akro Agate picked up on the techniques developed in England and produced their own versions of slag glass. As in England, one of the most popular applications for their pressed opaque glass was in lampshades. Wide bands of creamy colors allowed the light source in a lamp to fill a room with a soft ivory glow, while the purples and greens and reds pieced together in detailed leaded shades resulted in multi-colored illumination.

Just about anyone who was making lamps during the Art Nouveau period, from Tiffany to Roycroft to Steuben, might have used slag glass in their shades. But whether they did or not in a particular lamp is another matter. The problem is that today, "slag glass" is used rather casually by dealers and collectors alike to refer to almost any type of pressed opaque glass containing colored swirls or streaks. The key to determining if a piece of glass is "true" slag or just a handsome example of pressed glass is to look for glass that is obviously and richly marbled rather than simply colored or streaked.


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Recent News: Slag Glass Lamps

Source: Google News

Signed 1929 cat drawing by Leonard T. Foujita will be sold at auction June ...
ArtfixDaily, May 27th

Lamps and lighting will feature an antique oil banquet lamp with etched hurricane shade and gold base, kerosene lamps, stained glass and slag glass lamps, a stained glass hanging fixture, and a floor lamp with painted shade. Antique clocks from the ...Read more

Modest auction sales can still pack a big punch
Tribune-Review, May 17th

Look for a warm glow in the lighting category, where a Pittsburgh-made slag-glass lamp should shine. A reverse-painted, embossed pirates-theme hanging light fixture sports buccaneer scenes on its four sides and fish swimming in the deep six on its bottom...Read more

The Louis Daniel Brodsky Collection of Art Nouveau
Maine Antique Digest, April 27th

Brodsky's buys were from major names in the genre. Purchased primarily in Europe, New York, and Chicago, the collection encompassed furniture, ceramics, silver, glass, posters, prints, art glass, and some jewelry. Some came from his home territory in...Read more

Scientists Convert Packing Peanuts Into Better Battery Parts
Huffington Post, March 23rd

"These initial laboratory-based coin cell batteries are already powering light emitting diodes (LEDs) and wristwatches," Pol told The Huffington Post in an email. "After scaling up the carbon-production process, we will be able to make larger-size...Read more

What's it Worth: pottery lamp base, cameo collection
Richmond.com, March 14th

I would like to know if it is worth anything before I give it away. — C.H.. ANSWER: This pottery lamp base probably once held a cloth or leaded-glass shade. Unfortunately, the original sockets have been replaced with inexpensive modern sockets, which...Read more

Advice From Dallas' Best Interior Designers
D Magazine, March 3rd

So we posed five questions to our winning designers that would shed a little more light on their tastes and preferences, how they work within a range of price points (which, we should point out, do not necessarily reflect realistic dollar amounts they...Read more

PUBLIC SALES: Feb. 15, 2015
LancasterOnline, February 13th

$1,100; step-back display cabinet, $1,018; Willard-style tall case clock, $990; Hepplewhite bow-front chest, $880; harvest drop-leaf table, $715; corner cupboard, $715; high-wheeled baby coach, $660; slag glass table lamp, $605; Shotwell gas pump...Read more

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The Plain Dealer - cleveland.com, November 6th

ANSWER: Pittsburgh Lamp, Brass & Glass Co. made your lamp around 1915. The hexagonal, intricately modeled base was used on a variety of styles made by the firm. 1825 is the model number. The marbleized, caramel-colored glass is known as "slag" ...Read more