How to Identify Antique and Vintage Glassware
Learning how to identify antique glassware from reproduction takes some time but it can keep you from making costly mistakes. Since many vintage patterns have been reissued it is easy for even the most experienced collector to mistake new for old.
Don't let that stop you from picking up beautiful antique glassware! There are several ways that you can reduce the possibility of making a mistake.
Get an Identification and Price Guide
A good identification and price guide to antique glassware is probably the single best investment that you can make. Get a current guide so that the values will be up to date and it is helpful to choose one that will fit in your pocket or purse. When you are in an antique store or at a garage sale you can just whip out the identification guide and read up on the piece right then.
The price guide should tell you if the particular piece was reproduced at a later date. Generally companies would create the new pieces a little differently than the old ones they might be smaller or a different color or some other barely noticeable change. Your price guide should have information about the newer pieces and how each can be identified.
The ABC's of Identifying Antique Glassware
Once you have a price guide you can begin to look at antique glass with a critical eye.
Antique Glass Ages Gracefully
Antique and vintage glass will have signs of use. While you certainly don't want chips and cracks, if you look carefully at old glassware you will notice that the edges are softer and more rounded from years of wear. New pieces have sharp crisp edges.
The exception is cut glass, which is just the opposite. Antique cut glass will have sharp, crisp edges while the newer cut glass is more roughly made.
Be Careful of Color
While antique glassware comes in many different colors not every piece was made in every color. Most patterns were distributed in two or three different colors plus clear. Some very popular patterns may have been available in more colors but virtually none was available in every color.
The identification guide will have each pattern listed with the colors it was available in and the years it was available. If it isn't listed in the price guide you should assume that you are looking at a reproduction piece.
Identification and Price Guides on Amazon
Some colors are rarer than others in some patterns. These rare colors are more valuable than the more common colors in the same pieces. Learning which colors were rare in your favorite patterns will ensure that you don't miss a great find.
Dates Are Important
Patterns would be created by a company and distributed for a short period of time. There was no set amount of time - some companies might release a pattern and distribute it for two years while others remained available for five or six years.
Often the same company would re-release a pattern decades later. This is why it is extremely important to read up and become knowledgeable about your favorite patterns.
Examine the Details
Learn to be detail oriented. Make sure the items look and measure exactly like the pieces in the price guide.
For the sake of evaluation you will also want to look carefully for chips, cracks, flaking color and other undesirable details. These will greatly reduce the value even on the rarest of glass pieces.
Find Dealers You Trust
Shopping locally is important with antiques. You develop a relationship with the antique dealers you shop with over time and learn which you can trust and which may run things a little on the shady side.
When you do buy on the Internet, buy from people with excellent feedback and that are selling on a respected and trusted venue. Craigslist might be a great place to find a used couch but it is best for the novice collector the shy away from the great deal on pink Depression glass.
Go with Your Gut
If your gut feeling is that the glass is just not right somehow don't be pushed into buying it because it seems like such a good deal. Go with that inner antique expert that is telling you "no."
How to Identify the Purpose of Glass Items
Enjoy Your Hobby
Collecting antique glassware is fun. Nothing compares with the feeling of satisfaction as you find the final sherbet dish to complete your Carnival glass set or fall in love with a pattern that you have never seen before.
Learning as much as you can about the things you collect can make hunting down the individual pieces even more satisfying and rewarding. Plus you are less likely to wake up the next day with a bad case of buyer's remorse.