Instant Antique Expert Tip #3 – Old Glass

Glass 2

This vase was made by New-Small glassworks in Vancouver, BC and was made in the 1980’s. There are few scratches on its base.

Glass is one of the most difficult objects to date and there many reasons for this.

1. It doesn’t change with age if the glass is free from impurities. Some early glass with iron oxide changes to different hues of green and glass with manganese oxide changes to various shades of purple. Be aware that some companies have tinted their glass to look old and have added bubbles to make it look rustic.

2. It is easily reproduced. Companies routinely re-issue glass pieces from old molds that they own and keep in their archives. Companies like Hocking and Fenton have lots of re-issues on the market that are often mislabeled as original pieces.

3. It is easily copied by companies who create similar molds with some variation on size, colours and pattern. This is one of the biggest issues around Depression glass – it has been copied and faked so much that it takes an expert to tell the difference. (Don’t look at me:)

Crystal 2

This crystal decanter has scratches that correspond to its C1900 era.

So what’s a person to do?

Start by looking at the bottom of the object. You shouldn’t have any problem seeing this with a naked eye or you can use a loupe or magnifying glass. Old glass, or glass that’s been around for a while has scratches on its base. Compare different pieces of glass in your own home.

These scratches must go in different directions. Why? I’m so glad you asked.

Objects that are made of glass are actually pretty soft, as well as fragile. Over the years, moving the object from place to place produces scratches  and they are signs of wear. If the item has been practical, like a vase or wine glass, rather than just decorative, these scratches will be even more obvious.

So, Johanne, you haven’t answered the question. Why do the scratches need to go in several directions? 

Hang on – I’m getting there. Back in the 90’s when antiques were hot and trendy, unscrupulous sellers were buying faked glass and rubbing the base on concrete or with sandpaper to mimic those scratches – but they were all going in the same direction – circular! Faked scratches – not signs of actual wear.

So now you know how to tell if you have a piece of glass that has at least some age.

2 responses to “Instant Antique Expert Tip #3 – Old Glass

  1. Thank you for the info Johanne, I have some windows from a Church from Holland , they are Leaded, if you like to see them , Please let me now , Thanks Anneke . Classic European Antiques

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