Glass Appraisal

Glass appraisal requires more than just being able to identify the type of glassware and its age. An in-depth knowledge of the history of the various glassmakers adds more dimension to a glass appraisal. It is nice to know the appraised value, which of course is the stated goal of an appraisal; however, the history of an item can make it a much more interesting piece to own.

Everyone dreams of making that once-in-a-lifetime “discovery”. You’re rummaging through an old musty trunk in your grandmother’s attic, and you come across a glass bowl that she has had since childhood. It has no flaws or damage, and is colored a beautiful shade of green. Could it be worth a lot of money? A glass appraisal will tell.

When we perform a glass appraisal, one of the first tasks is to determine what kind of glass it is.

Some of the more common types of glassware include:

• American Brilliant Cut glass – Cut glass is essentially self-defining. Craftsmen would start with a completely smooth glass surface, and decorate the glass completely by cutting it in various patterns. The Brilliant Period, when the majority of this collectible glass was created, lasted from approximately 1880 to 1920. The best cut glass from this period was created by less than ten leading glass houses, and much of it is still in existence today.

• Art glass – "Art glass" refers to collectible glass pieces that have been crafted into works of art by a glass artisan. This could mean a vase, a pitcher, a bird figurine, a bowl or a variety of other forms. The most valuable art glass items are made by a few companies such as Tiffany, Galle or Steuben. Some art glass collectibles are quite small, but don't let that deter you – many small items can be quite valuable. A glass appraisal can identify the maker as well as the value.

• Stained glass – Virtually everyone can recognize this; most people identify it with the large stained glass windows found in some churches. That is one popular use for it, but this type of glass art can take on other forms, such as lamps. Certain companies, such as Tiffany, have created some stained glass lamps and windows that are extremely valuable. We can help you determine if yours has great monetary value or primarily sentimental value.

• Depression glass – Depression glass is very collectable. Its name comes from the fact that it was made and used during the Great Depression – from the 1930s into the 1940s. As a result of the economic conditions of that era, this type of glassware was cheaply made and not a very high-quality glass; therefore, not a lot of it has survived. This fact makes depression glass a nice item for glass collectors today, and a glass appraisal can sometimes reveal a surprisingly high value.

• Carnival glass – Carnival glass has an interesting history. In the early 1900s, the Fenton Glass company devised a way to make iridized art glass that was similar to the Tiffany style, but less expensive. This became very popular and several other companies (such as Northwood, Imperial and others) started using machinery to produce high volumes of this very popular colorful glass. Then the Great Depression hit, and the new glass patterns came out that were extremely cheap (depression glass). So many companies were stuck with warehouses full of the iridized glass, and they ended up selling it to traveling carnivals for next to nothing. The carnivals would use them as game prizes, so this type of glassware became known as Carnival Glass.

• Milk glass – Milk glass is probably the most easily recognized type of collectible glassware because of its all-white color. Fenton created several different designs and patterns of milk glass in the early 1900s, and milk glass is still in production today. It is quite common for us to do a glass appraisal on milk glass.

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