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).
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.
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.
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:
Duncan & Miller
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!