Types of Glass for Collecting

Are there different types of glass for collecting and what are the different ways of looking at collecting glass? You might be interested in collecting a glass genre, such as vases or figurines. An alternative would be to collect a manufacturer's glass offerings, such as Fenton Art Glass. A third possibility, and one that will help you categorize manufacturers and genres, would be to look at types of glass.

Cut Glass
Cut glass has a pattern cut into it that is made using cutting tools or abrasive wheels. Cut glass is particularly brilliant when held up to the light. Since cut glass is handcrafted, it tends to be expensive. Cut glass made in the United States reached its height of popularity and quality between 1876 and 1917. The period ended when less expensive pressed glass flooded the market and the iron oxide required for cut glass was appropriated for munitions during World War I.

Pressed Glass
Pressed glass is actually an old process. People have long used molds to form glass. However, it took mechanization to really bring pressed glass to the forefront. By the 1850s, pressed glass techniques brought attractive, durable and useable glassware to the middle class. Pressed glass is sometimes also referred to as pattern glass if the glass was made between the 1850s and 1910.

American Purple Glass
American purple glass is controversial. During the Civil War, lead, which was used as a clarifying agent in glass, was used for the war. It was found that not only could manganese do the trick as a substitute, it was also less expensive than lead. This practice lasted until about 1915. It turns out that manganese, when exposed to the sun, turns purple. Those who collect early American pattern glass consider purple glass to be damaged goods and are infuriated by those who deliberately expose glass to the sun, as there is a limited supply of glass made during this period. However, others enjoy the look of purple glass and use it as a way of dating their pieces.

Carnival Glass
Carnival glass is actually a misnomer. Originally developed by Fenton Art Glass Company in 1907, carnival glass was marketed as the "Poor man's Tiffany." This was the first time that poorer people could own beautiful art glass. Carnival glass was made affordable by using pressed glass and hand finishing it for individuality. As the popularity of carnival glass waned and cheap imitations invaded, carnival glass did, indeed, end up as carnival prizes.

Vaseline Glass
Vaseline glass will set off a Geiger counter as it includes uranium in its mix for color. The uranium in Vaseline glass lends it a pretty yellow to green color and enables the glass to "flash," or irradiate, when exposed to sunlight or a blue light. The heyday of Vaseline glass ended when the U.S. and British governments appropriated uranium during the Second World War. 

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