Pressed and Cut Glass Were Never Meant to be Shabby Chic.

The year was 1907.
Oklahoma was about to become a state.
World War I hadn’t even begun.
Women weren’t allowed to vote.
The Titanic was nothing more than a design.
“School Days (When We Were a Couple of Kids)” was the #1 popular music hit.

And this bowl, in the “Homestead” pattern (technically #63), was made by Duncan & Miller.

Pattern #63 aka "Homestead" by Duncan & Miller, circa 1907

Pattern #63 aka “Homestead” by Duncan & Miller, circa 1907

It’s a glorious example of Early American Pattern Glass, which graced the tables of those who wanted the look of American Brilliant Cut Glass without the expense.

It’s a miracle that so many pieces like this have survived butterfingers, wars, earthquakes, fires, and countless household moves. Collectors eagerly seek them out and care for them to ensure that they’ll last another 106 years.

So you can imagine how we feel when we see these lovely antiques are presented as “shabby chic” décor, their stunning beauty covered over by “distressed paint” in trendy cottage colors.
They can be very pretty. But they’re no longer able to sparkle in the light, their bevels, stars, shells and buttons hidden behind garish makeup. There’s no acknowledgement of their noble history. Their pattern names and makers are ignored.

Imagine this 106-year-old Imperial Glass sugar, pattern #212, covered in green "distressed" paint and offered for sale as "shabby chic."

Imagine this 106-year-old Imperial Glass sugar, pattern #212, covered in green “distressed” paint and offered for sale as “shabby chic.”

I’d love to post a photo as an example, but I want to make an appeal, not embarrass any individual. 
Sadly, you can find plenty of examples if you do a search.

There is a lot of modern dreck that could be dressed up in similar fashion, and actually improved in the process.
The dollar store has countless “pressed glass” creamers, sugars, vases, cups and plates that might look nice gussied up in paint and gilt — and you can satisfy your inner crafter for a lot less money, as well!

But there is absolutely no reason to destroy a precious remnant of another, more elegant, time for the sake of a passing fancy. Like purpled glass or “refinished” furniture, far too many EAPG treasures are being treated like yesterday’s trash.

One day, sadly, they will become tomorrow’s trash. Removing the paint may not restore the original sparkle, and serious collectors want originals that are as perfect as possible.

There’s nothing wrong with “distressing” an object to create your own artistic statement. But please do some research before you begin, to make sure that you aren’t permanently destroying the work of another artist — one whose work has already stood the test of time.

About sarathurston

I'm a marketing communications writer who also loves antiques and collectibles. You can find my shop on Etsy at
This entry was posted in Antiques, Glass, Why Are Antiques Important? and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Pressed and Cut Glass Were Never Meant to be Shabby Chic.

  1. Naomi says:

    Hi . I have same one creamer and sugar in light blue do you know any value of it?

  2. Gina says:


  3. Gina says:

    I have the creamer, Imperial Glass #212 if you are interested as well as the Fry Cut nappy that you are showing as well. And other EAPG and AMB glass pieces.

  4. Mark Scanlon-Greene says:

    Nice article and important information! In some ways, this practice is like using an old master work of art as the base for a color-by-number painting. It’s like all the reproductions being made from old molds that cheapen beautiful glass that has been out there for 80-100+ years. Thanks for making this point!

  5. Kate Ryan says:

    GREAT article. You should post it on your FB page so I can share….

    Sent from my iPad

  6. Pingback: When it comes to antiques, put the scissors down. | Janvier Road: Where old becomes exciting and new

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