Antique Glassware - History & Information Resources from Antique  Central

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An exquisite example of antique glassware by Stevens and Williams of England. Here they use the  Japanese-style Matsu-no-ke mounting technique, patented by Frederick Cader in 1922.

Here is a beautiful example of cameo glass by Thomas Webb & Sons of England, with overlaid, etched and wheel-carved palm leaf designs 1890

The famous Portland Vase made of Roman cameo glass, currently in the British Museum of London, circa 5-25 A.D.

We are so glad you stopped by our page on antique glassware. We have a wealth of knowledgeable information and tips for the collector on various designs, styles and colors of antique glassware.

First, let me give you a little insight into the beginnings of glass making.
Although glass objects are known to have been made as early as the Bronze Age, it wasn't until the first century B.C. that the technique of glass blowing was invented. Some wonderful pieces of glassware from ancient Greece and Rome have survived today, some pieces of which can actually be purchased for a fairly reasonable price. The most famous piece of antique glassware from this time is the Portland Vase made of Roman cameo glass, currently in the British Museum of London. 

Venice produced elegant drinking glasses and remained the world leader in the glass industry through the end of the 16th century, but began to lose their position by the mid 18th century. Glassware production in Germany increased quickly after 1648. The glass blowing process remained relatively the same until the 17th century when George Ravenscroft of England developed lead glass, giving the glass greater clarity and resonance. 

The English glass industry flourished and by the end of the century over one hundred glass houses were operating throughout the country and soon expanding all over Europe. The first antique glassware used by the colonists was imported and only a few wealthy individuals could afford to have it. But by the early 18th century, English glassware was common in upper-class homes, especially in cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. Glassware production increased in America as glass makers from England and Ireland were lured to the continent. 

Glass proved to be one of the most versatile materials, since it can be shaped and molded into a variety of forms, long and graceful, ruffled or swirling, with soft or brilliant splashes of color. The ability to etch, cut or engrave the glass allowed the maker even more expression. 

During the nineteenth century factories began to press molded glass, making it possible to mass produce. While many glass makers were unable to escape this trend, groups of artists, determined to uphold the artistic quality of their glassware pieces, began experimenting even more. And, with the development of the Amberina process at the turn of the century, and many other glasswares, such as Burmese, carnival glass, mercury glass, and peach blow, antique glassware soon became used more as a sculptural material, thus giving birth to what is referred to as Art Glass.

We are so glad you stopped by to visit our page on antique glassware, and hope this gives you a little background on how and where glass making began. If you are a beginner collector or need more information on a specific type or style of glassware, we have many other pages with lots of info on various types of antique glassware. If there is an area that you are interested in that you don't see now, please check back OFTEN because we are constantly updating our website.






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