The first thing I do with a piece of glass that may be vintage is not look at it but feel it. I run my hands over it lightly as I twist and turn it in my hands. I concentrate on what it feels like. Are there seam lines? Are there rough edges? Does it feel like butter? How heavy is it? How thick is it and is it even? Are there ripples or ruffles or blunt edges?
I can stand there for 2-3 minutes just letting my hands explore the item. In most cases I can know whether it is vintage without ever looking at it or studying it. For me, touch works.
Let’s ask the obvious question. Why does that work?
Old glass, good glass has a feel to it. Whether it is an optic or a quilted or a diamond point, for me there is a certain feel. Maybe it is from always making that my starting point when I see a piece of glass and as I further investigate it, I find that my initial instincts were right. I’m not sure but I know that it is a talent that most can acquire with some work.
Let me also point out that they say that touch cannot tell you what something is or that it proves it is something. Do I disagree? Partially. Touch is just one of the tools I use but I do find it useful and I’m often spot on.
Okay…so we are not so big on touch. Let’s go for sight next…
As a beginner, one of my weakest points was to know what something was called. I mean after all, what the heck is optic? Or controlled bubble? Or custard? Or quilted? I didn’t know enough to even begin to search for something. Hell, I didn’t even know what ruffled meant at the beginning.So, let’s start there. The following are photos of general descriptors of different types of glass. Later we will talk about different manufacturing techniques but for right now…let’s focus on practical terms that will help you find and identify what you have.
In the beginning I did not know they called it amber so I was always looking for yellow. Now that I know a thing or two I still would use yellow red glass in my keywords. Remember, people do not always know the formal name for things so down the road when you know a lot more than you know right now, don’t forget how a beginner searches.
This particular piece is Murano and it is also cased glass as well as stretched. Quite gorgeous.
Normally the block pattern is either blown glass or pressed. If blown, the glass was blown into a mold, it was not done freehand. Looking for a pontil mark is going to help you identify whether it is pressed or blown.
Some of the companies that made carnival glass were Cambridge, Northwood, Millersburg, Dugan, Fenton, and US Glass. It is important to know three things about carnival glass.
The base color of the glass. The color of the finished piece. The pattern name.
Although sales in carnival glass have significantly slowed in recent years, it is an enchanting hobby to pursue.
Diamond point is really just that. It’s a diamond pattern with raised points. In most cases it is pressed glass so although the points are pointy, they are not sharp. If the points are not really points at all consider that this pattern may be quilted instead.
Flashed basically means that a very thin flash of color is added to the surface of the glass. This is basically the lower end of glass. We are going to get into identifying flash versus cranberry glass and stained glass down the road a bit.
Here is a good starter article by about.com
There are different patterns of what they call optic. This is a ribbed optic. Basically what it means is that the glass is done in different varying thicknesses to create a pattern. It is blown glass. This particular one is Empoli (Murano, Italy)
I chose this photo because it really shows the quilted pattern. Quilted patterns do not always have to be flat like this piece. With some there is an actual bubble. Do not confuse a diamond pattern with a quilt pattern. The quilt patter when raised is soft and rounded while the diamond pattern has true points.
This is what uranium glass does under black light and just one of the reasons to buy yourself a black light. It is caused by the use of uranium in the glass mixture. Although still made today, most of it it from pre WWII.
Vaseline glass also glows under black light. It ALWAYS fluoresces green, like Vaseline. Vaseline Glass and Uranium glass can be a bit confusing. All vaseline glass is uranium glass but not all uranium glass is vaseline glass. Here is an article that will give you more information between the two types of glass.