Identifying EAPG Patterns: The Good News and Bad News

When it comes to EAPG and American Brilliant, I’m a total novice.
A newbie with nearly 15 boxes packed with the stuff. I won’t sell it unless I can accurately identify it. And I won’t use it unless I can be assured that it isn’t a priceless rarity.

Many of us are in the same boat – we’ve inherited these pieces with complicated motifs in almost unlimited combinations. How on earth can we discover who made each piece, what it’s called, and what it’s worth?

Here’s the good news.
Mollie Helen McCain wrote one of the best books on the subject. The “Field Guide to Pattern Glass” has thousands of hand drawings of just about every pattern ever made. (Many motifs are common both to EAPG and American Brilliant.)
And there’s the Internet.

Here’s the bad news.
It can be extremely difficult and time consuming to find the piece you’re looking for, and the book isn’t as user-friendly as it first seems (the index isn’t as complete as it could be). But it can be done – almost every pattern you’re looking for is in there. Somewhere. I’m sharing some tips that have helped me immensely.

Learn the motifs.
One of the most difficult things about identifying patterns is calling the motifs by the correct names. But be prepared — even when you do use the correct names it doesn’t always help.

Take this motif, molded into the side of my small berry or finger bowl:

What would you call this flower?

What would you call this flower?

It looks like a thistle to me.
Thistles are common on EAPG pieces, and they look just like this. So I searched online. And I searched. And I searched.

I looked up “thistle” in my McCain’s – nothing looked like this motif.

Then one day I was browsing through the book, looking for yet another mysterious pattern.

And there it was, on page 242.

But it wasn’t a thistle.

Fostoria "Dandelion" pattern, 1911

Fostoria “Dandelion” pattern, 1911

It’s a dandelion. Fostoria’s #1319, to be precise. “Thistle” is just an alternate name – yet it wasn’t cross-referenced in the McCain index. You’d find it only by looking for “dandelion.”

Sheesh!

Then there’s this bowl.

Just try to find this by searching "shell," "arch" or "star"!

Just try to find this by searching “shell,” “arch” or “star”!

I tried “shell,” “arch,” “star,” you name it. Nothing.

I finally gave up and asked in a Facebook group I belong to. Within moments, one of the experts informed me that it’s Duncan & Miller’s “Homestead.” Sure enough, there it was on page 225. But the shell is so tiny that I completely missed it. And the index doesn’t refer to it under any of the above search terms.

So how will you ever identify your glass?
First, learn the names of motifs and Google them.
Here are some of the easier ones to get you started.

Shell and sunburst

Shell and sunburst

Fan motif

Fan motif

Buzzsaw with buttons motif. "Sawtooth" rim

Buzzsaw with buttons motif. “Sawtooth” rim

Star and file motif. Now, would you think of the word "file"?

Star and file motif. Now, would you think of the word “file”? That’s about the last term I’d use.

Then, browse your books.
I’ve learned to keep looking at those McCain drawings. Over and over.
I’ll try the index first, but what I think is a shell may be a fan. What I define as a ribbon could be a cane. I’ve also learned to concentrate on the “Facets” section. That’s where I’ve had most of my luck.

What is it worth?
That’s something you’ll have to find out on your own. Pattern and Brilliant glass isn’t commanding the prices it did a decade or so ago, but it isn’t yard sale cheap, either. And interest waxes and wanes. Personally, I think everyone should have at least one piece – it’s just too beautiful, and the quality too good, to ignore. By visiting websites you’ll get a better sense of current value.

Finally, ask an expert.
I do this only after I’ve totally exhausted my own efforts, namely because I take pride in being able to find anything. But there are just times when, no matter what I do, I can’t find a pattern. Sure, it’s embarrassing when someone names a pattern that was in McCain all along. But one day, I’ll be the one who pipes up and says “oh, that’s Lancaster’s “Stippled Fans” on page 237.

I can’t wait!

Advertisements

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 Etsy, Vintage Glass Patterns and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Identifying EAPG Patterns: The Good News and Bad News

  1. DORI MILES, PATTERN GLASS EDITOR, EAPGPATTERNS.COM says:

    Wasn’t able to enter a URL. I put it in but it doesn’t “take”. eapgpatterns.com

  2. Karla Bergen says:

    I have just ordered the McCain book, but the most helpful thing I’ve done is to join the “Vintage Glass” group on Facebook! Not only can they usually ID your piece, but you learn from the pictures that others post.

    • DoRi Miles says:

      See my post above. EAPG is my specialty of 55+ years. As Pattern Glass Editor of EAPGPatterns.com and Pattern Glass Editor ex off. of Warman’s Antiques & their Prices, as well as author/editor of the currently-updated Wallace-Homestead Price Guide to Pattern Glass (only available from me) I do identification for $6 via PayPal, satisfaction guaranteed. My book is the ideal companion for McCain’s old Field Guide which has a lot of errors and missing info. The biggest prob with Facebook help is how long it would take to go through your glass. I can look at all of it and separate old from new, genuine from repro and it wlil be a time-saver and correct.

  3. DoRi Miles says:

    Actually, on your buzz saw with buttons, pinwheel is another term for buzz saw, the midwest tends to call them spinners, I’d avoid that word since it doesn’t appear in books and because early authors used buzz saw or pinwheel. There is a pattern with the aka Spinner Daisy. Buttons describe hexagons or octagons, not squares. McCain copied most of her material from early authors as old as the 1930s (Kamm). A lot has been found out since then, my McCain has a huge number of corrections and additions. The best descriptions have the original manufacturer, their name or number for the pattern, the earliest date of manufacture, and reproduction information. A lot of patterns have multiple makers because of the two big combines, U.S. Glass Co. and National Glass Co., both had two or more factories actually making the glass, that’s the sort of info I give on the paid identifications I do for my clients.

    • sarathurston says:

      I never heard the term “spinners” before – very interesting!
      Thanks so much for your clarifications! Glass can be so frustrating to learn about – and so fascinating, too!

  4. Dave Carson says:

    Being in my 70s I am so pleased to see what you and others are doing to improve interest in EAPG and Carnival Glass.
    EAPG lovers needs to do much more to save this American History.
    It is difficult to identify pattern from some pic (most) as they are small and not sharp. Now with the ability to enlarge on most phones it is easier. The lack of interest in EAPG is because it is so hard to find
    patterns … and values.
    I hope someone young takes on this opportunity to add value to EAPG …

  5. DoRi Miles says:

    Hi,Sara ~ I remember when I opened my first shop in 1960 that same feeling about not wanting to sell EAPG for fear I had a rarity. 55 years later, after being a full-time professional dealer specializing in EAPG, I’m still hooked because there are so many unknown patterns and pieces and it’s frustrating to think of catalogs that might be sitting in old trunks in an attic, or worse, having been thrown out over the years. McCain’s Field Guide is useful but she’s not a glass expert, she’s a CAD specialist. Unfortunately she used references as early as Kamm from the 1930s. There’s no doubt it’s a useful reference but it’s even more so when combined with the Wallace-Homestead Price Guide to Pattern Glass that I sell with the latest updates. This is photographs but arranged alphabetically by pattern name, so going through it page by page is a pain, that’s where McCain comes in handy. About your comments above, Heacock unfortunately named that pattern DANDELION, I knew Bill but Bill didn’t know his flowers. I renamed the pattern Bachelor’s Button also know as Cornflower because that’s what it is. To perpetuate errors is in itself an error, Dandelion should be forgotten, something that’s hard to do. After doing approximately over 13,000 free identifications of EAPG at various forums since I joined several in 1998, demand has resulted in my charging $6 as the basic price per pattern via PayPal (no added fees). If a piece isn’t worth that, I tell you, but even so, having the i.d. is worth it for the added knowledge that can be useful for future pieces in the same pattern that might be worth more, and for the gained knowledge. I also vet auctions and shops for errors, clients send me pictures from estate sales, auctions, flea markets so they can make a decision about buying, too. So if you haven’t worked your way through your 15 boxes, maybe I can help you or those who visit you. DoRi Miles, Pattern Glass Editor EAPGPatterns.com; Pattern Glass Editor ex off., Warman’s Antique & their Prices, Author, Wallace-Homestead Price Guide to Pattern Glass (for sale with updates).

    • sarathurston says:

      Thanks for your information! It’s funny, but it really doesn’t look like a dandelion, either. HAHA! It definitely looks like a cornflower.

  6. nancye1962 says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed your article. I am in the same boat. I try and try and try some more on some of the EAPG patterns, and, like you, I finally have to ask for help sometimes. But there is one other tool I wanted to suggest that has helped me some. Search Google images- just click on the images link when you are looking at a page of results. That has been an invaluable tool to me over the years too.
    Hope this helps!

  7. Pingback: States of Confusion: The US Glass States Series | Janvier Road: Where old becomes exciting and new

I'd love to hear your thoughts (and corrections)!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s