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:
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.
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.”
Then there’s this bowl.
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.
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!