A friend recently told me that she collects purple American Brilliant cut glass and Early American Pattern Glass (EAPG). And she wasn’t talking about the rich amethyst colors that often graced antique pattern glass. She was describing the soft lavender that comes from sun damage over time.
I was horrified, but didn’t want to spoil the evening by pointing out that such glass is considered a serious defect by those who are cut glass purists. And that, even worse, unscrupulous dealers deliberately ruin authentic cut and pressed glass in order to satisfy the market.
Sun purpling started out as a natural phenomenon.
Because of the many facets cut into pattern glass, pieces were often displayed in sunny windows where their beauty could literally sparkle. Unfortunately, over time, ultraviolet sunlight reacted with the manganese in the glass, resulting in irreversible purpling.
The light lavender color is lovely, and many collectors, like my friend, prefer it to clear glass. Perhaps if it ended there, the purpled glass would be a rarity, defect and all, and worth investing in. However, it gets worse.
These collectors are being taken for a ride.
It didn’t take long for unscrupulous dealers to artificially purple genuine cut and pressed glass and pass it off as something desirable. As a result, many unique antique pieces are being heartlessly destroyed, and collectors are being led to believe that they are purchasing something rare and special.
This article by Bill and Elaine Henderson, experts in pattern glass, explains the purpling “disaster” in more detail, and provides a downloadable PDF fact sheet for dealers and buyers alike.
Remember – whenever you’re buying something old and authentic, make sure you know what you’re doing. The work you do ahead of time could save you time, money and heartache later!