Elegant Glass: In a class by itself.

The more I learn, the more I learn that I need to learn.

First there was American Brilliant cut glass (1876-1914).

Then Early American Pattern Glass (EAPG, 1850-1910.)

And we’ve all heard about Depression Glass (1920s – 1940s).

"Patrician" or "Spoke" pattern Depression Glass Plate. The "etching" was done in the mold. Real etching was added later on Elegant Glass.

“Patrician” or “Spoke” pattern Depression Glass Plate. The “etching” was done in the mold. Real etching was added by hand on Elegant Glass.

Now I find out there’s a category called “Elegant Glass” (1920s – 1980s)!

Just what I needed – more confusion.
Well, it isn’t really that confusing. No, not really. Hah.
OK. Elegant glass is NOT American Brilliant Cut Glass. It’s sort of a later pretender.
In fact, it’s related more closely with Depression Glass – and it’s beautiful and very collectible.

So let’s start with Depression Glass.
It was cheap and mass-produced, and once it came out of the mold, it was ready to be given away or sold. It often had imperfections, such as straw marks, bubbles and other “dings” here and there.

Pink Depression glass. Plain and mass-produced.

Pink Depression glass. Plain and mass-produced.

But some of the same companies that produced Depression Glass also made some more expensive lines in order to compete with extremely expensive European glass.

These pieces were made either entirely by hand (blown) or hand-finished after being pressed in a mold. Some Elegant Glass was even hand-etched, gilded or enameled. It was for this reason that noted Depression Glass expert and author Gene Florence felt that enough differences existed to justify a new category. So blame the confusion on him.

Cambridge “Wildflower” Etched Water Goblets with Gold Rims. Photo courtesy of Elegant Etches, Etsy

Cambridge “Wildflower” Etched Water Goblets with Gold Rims. Photo courtesy of Elegant Etches, Etsy

Elegant Glass wasn’t given away or sold at the five and dime.
This glass was meant for weddings or other special occasions, and was sold in department or specialty stores. It was available in a wider range of colors than Depression glass (which was typically crystal, amber, green, pink and yellow). You’re more likely to find vivid oranges other “non-Depression” colors in Elegant Glass.

Many American glass companies produced Elegant Glass. These are the most prominent, along with a representative pattern or two which you can Google to see what they look like:
 
Cambridge
Portia
Wildflower
Duncan & Miller
Caribbean
Dover
Fostoria
Fairfax
Pioneer
American
Heisey
Crystallite
Ridgeleigh

Heisey's "Ridgeleigh" individual creamer and sugar with vertical hand-cut ribs. Photo courtesy of Charmings, Etsy

Heisey’s “Ridgeleigh” individual creamer and sugar with smooth fire-polished ribs. Photo courtesy of Charmings, Etsy

Imperial
Candlewick
Cape Cod
Paden City
Frost
Triumph
Westmoreland
Della Robbia

So. There’s Depression Glass that looks elegant, and elegant glass that looks like Depression Glass.

How can you tell which is which?
It can be challenging, especially since many of the same pieces are listed in books about both Depression and Elegant Glass.

But books devoted exclusively to Elegant Glass are being written, and they’ll help you sort it all out.

If you hold up a known piece of Depression Glass and a piece of elegant glass, you’ll notice that the Elegant Glass:

  • Has no bubbles, straw marks or raised seams (the mold lines have been polished away)
  • Has a base that allows the piece to sit flat, with no wobbling
  • Can feature elaborate hand etching, rather than the “faux” etching of molded glass (shown in the amber plate above).

Gold, silver, or platinum touches (encrusting) – and even enameling — are a giveaway that it could be Elegant Glass.

This blog features illustrations of Elegant Glass and is worth a read, as well.

The more I learn about vintage and antique glass, the more I’d love to use these treasures for entertaining once again, as well!

If you love learning about antiques as much as I do, follow the blog so you won’t miss the next article.
 And enjoy the hunt!

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About sarathurston

I'm a marketing communications writer who also loves antiques and collectibles. You can find my shop on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/JanvierRoad
This entry was posted in Antiques, Etsy, Glass and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Elegant Glass: In a class by itself.

  1. Pingback: Tackling the Tecs: McKee’s 18 most famous patterns. | Janvier Road: Where old becomes exciting and new

  2. Pingback: Is it Pressed Glass or Cut Glass? | Janvier Road: Where old becomes exciting and new

  3. kathy says:

    Well, I am still confused but you did shed some light and great resources! Thanks for the info! I would like to reblog this in the near future!

  4. Sara….I have been confused about the different types and styles of glass and its history and just want you to know that your article is great and so informative! Thanks so much so sharing.
    Barb

    • sarathurston says:

      Barb, it was a struggle! LOL

      I worked with the woman who writes the “Charmings Collectibles” blog and the Ridgeleigh creamers, who is far more knowledgable than I am. Even she admitted that it can be confusing.

      All I’ve ever wanted to do is sell off boxes of inherited stuff. But now I’ve gained such respect for professional antiques dealers — they have to know so much about so many different things! LOL

  5. Reblogged this on barbsburnttree and commented:
    So much to learn……..this post answers questions! Thank you Sara for sharing….

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