Glassware can be both beautiful and practical. Collecting glassware can bring joy to its owners and to those who see it. Collecting glassware can be a richly rewarding past-time plus you can often use items from your collection in your everyday life, therefore gaining even more pleasure from your glassware collection.
The condition of the glass you collect is of paramount importance. Always try to purchase perfect specimens unless the item is a one-off or extremely rare piece in which case you might have to accept something less than perfect.
Beginners who start collecting glassware often go for quantity rather then quality. If you are just starting out collecting glassware don’t stress too much about it … as your collection grows your taste will evolve and you may find you want to specialize in a particular period or style of glassware. Different enthusiasts collect different items and there are collections ranging from shot glasses to cookie jars, stemware to tiny glass flowers, Venetian glass to Depression glass.
And always remember if your glassware collection grows too large with unwanted items you can always sell those items so that you can buy more of the type of glassware that you prefer. The internet is an excellent place to sell your unwanted glassware.
History of Glass in Brief
Man had been using glass that occurred naturally, specifically obsidian or the volcanic glass, even before he learned the art of making glass. He used obsidian for producing arrowheads, knives, jewelry and money. According to Pliny, an ancient Roman historian, Phoenician merchants made glass for the first time around 5000 B.C. in the Syrian region. However, archaeological evidence reveals that man first made glass in Egypt and Eastern Mesopotamia around 3500 B.C. Glass vessels were made for the first time during 1500 B.C. and the industry expanded over the next 300 years, but declined thereafter. During 700 B.C. in Mesopotamia and 500 B.C. in Egypt, glass making witnessed a revival and the region consisting of Syria, Egypt and other countries lying along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea were the centers for the manufacture of glass.
The process of manufacturing glass was difficult and time consuming in the beginning as the furnaces used to be small and the heat generated was not sufficient to melt glass. However, it became faster, easier and cheaper following a Syrian craftsman’s revolutionary discovery of the blow pipe in the first century B.C. Glass industry flourished in Rome and from there it spread to countries under its rule. By 1000 A.D., the most prominent center for manufacture of glass was Alexandria, an Egyptian city. The use of stained glass in cathedrals and churches across the European continent reached its zenith during the 1300s and 1400s.
Though glass appears to be solid, it is technically a liquid and can be shaped colored and decorated in many ways. Though the glass making technology is ancient, the techniques that are employed to decorate glass have only been refined and developed over the past couple of centuries. An understanding of this is essential in dating and identifying collectible glassware. This is because two identical looking pieces in an antique store may have different values due to quality, rarity and desirability of the collector. However, it is important to remember that developing an eye for valuable pieces requires research and practice.
Collectible Styles of Glass
The substance glass is as old as the planet itself. It was created by lightning and meteorite strikes initially. Later on volcanoes created natural forms of glass obsidian and tektites. Whereas the Phoenicians melted hardened nitrates and made glass, early eastern Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations created not only glass art but also beads around 3500 B.C. Though, Egyptian artisans made glass that resembles modern day glass during 1500 B.C., the term vintage glass used by collectors refers to the glassware manufactured during and after the Industrial revolution.
The term art glass refers to items made for decoration and those that worked to form an artistic piece. Some examples of art glass are stained glass windows, blown glass items, molded glass pieces, sandblasted glass, leaded lights and copper-foil work. The popularity of art glass has grown in the recent times because of the contributions of many artists, colleges offering courses and many amateurs making art glass as a hobby.
Pressed or molded glass having a pattern and metallic, shiny and iridescent shimmer on the surface is referred to as carnival glass. The carnival glass appealed to people as it looked like finer and expensive blown iridescent glass made by Loetz, Tiffany and others and its bright finish caught the light in a dark corner of a home. Functional as well as ornamental objects were made in carnival finish and the range of patterns included simple, geometric, cut styles, pictorial and figurative. A varied range of colors and combinations were also used. Other names for carnival glass are dope glass, aurora glass, rainbow glass, taffeta glass, etc. Carnival glass is still being made though in small quantities. Huge numbers of pieces were made when carnival glass was very popular in the 1920s and even ordinary people could afford it.
As the name implies Depression glass came into existence during the time of the Great Depression. Glassware that was clear or colored and translucent was distributed for free or at low prices in Canada and the United States came to be known as Depression glass. This glassware was mostly produced in the mid-west and central United States, during the first half of the twentieth century, where the access to raw material was good and it was less expensive to make it. More than twenty glassmakers created over 100 patterns. Even dinner sets were made in some patterns. Popular colors were clear, pale blue, pink, amber and green. Though the quality of Depression glass is not very good, it is a collectible item since the 1960s.
Fire-King is a brand of glassware of Anchor Hocking which is similar to Pyrex. It is made of borosilicate glass of the low expansion type and is suitable for use in the freezer, refrigerator and oven. Fire-King was made in the 1940s for daily use and was sold in flour bags or given at gas stations as promotional items. Local hardware and grocery stores also sold Fire-King glassware. The varieties of Fire-King glassware included dessert bowls, nesting bowls, casserole dishes, mugs and beverage containers. Fire-King glassware was not designed for use in dishwashers. The popular patterns included Wheat, Blue Mosaic, Primrose, Fleurette, Anniversary Rose and Forget Me Not. Patterns that came in solid glass colors were Swirl/Shell, Jane Ray, Sheaves of Wheat, Fish Scale, etc.
Anchor Hocking is a glassware manufacturer. Isaac Jacob founded the Hocking Glass Company in 1905 and in 1937 merged it with AnchorCap and Closure Corporation. The first glassware that the newly merged company produced as Anchor Hocking was Royal Ruby in 1939. Other styles manufactured by the company included Forest Green, Fire-King and Anchor Ovenware.
Corning Inc. introduced the Pyrex brand in 1915. Pyrex is a clear type of glassware made of low-thermal-expansion borosilicate glass for laboratory as well as kitchen use. Pyrexe products are currently being produced by other companies under license. World Kitchen makes Pyrex glass cookware from tempered soda-lime glass and not borosilicate.