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New To Collecting Antique Glassware From Auction? Read This First!

Monday, July 27th, 2020
green glassware with some pink flowers

If you collect glassware or are interested in the hobby, auctions can be a great place to find unique pieces. Antique glass can be fun to find and collect, especially if you can get some good deals. Antique glass is beautiful and can be valuable for resale too. Here are some tips that can help you start collecting.

Use an identification guide

This is a good first step in your collecting journey because it can help you find what you like or what is most valuable. You should research the various types of antique glassware that are available before going to an auction. An up-to-date guide can tell you what is out there and good prices.

Pay close attention to color and pattern

Antique glass comes in a large variety of colors, but patterns only come in limited color ranges depending upon the manufacturer. Some colors are more valuable than others. Uranium glass, for example, has beautiful colors that glow under ultraviolet light. Your guide will tell you what is most valuable, rare, or common. Estate auctions can be a great place to find antiques, so keep an eye out for glass in mixed lots and in auction catalogs.

Know how to identify re-releases

Some companies take patterns that were once popular and re-release them decades later. This can make identifying antiques a bit more difficult. Be sure to do some research about particular pieces of glassware if you think they could be reproductions.

Types of antique (and vintage) collectible glassware

There are thousands of types and styles of glassware. Glass has been created since the Bronze Age and has been popular around the world. Today, the late-19th through the mid-20th century is considered the best time for the art of glassmaking.

It can help to narrow down the focus of your collection so you aren’t overwhelmed by choices. Of course, auctions only have a limited amount of items to sell. This helps, but you should still know exactly what you want to bid on. Here are some of the most common and popular types to watch for at auctions.

Fenton glassware

The Fenton Glass Company was extremely popular and helped develop many of the most beloved styles of glassware during the “American Brilliant” era. They were inspired by Steuben Glass and Tiffany Studios. In 1907, they released carnival glass, reaching 150 patterns of the style. Fenton is also known for its hobnail, milk, custard, chocolate, and opalescent styles.

Identifying Fenton glassware can sometimes be difficult. Pieces made in 1973 until now have a raised, oval-shaped logo to identify them. Those made before typically has a stick-on label that is usually not found today. Designs, patterns, and colors can all help identify pieces that don’t have labels.

Values differ as much as style and color. Some ebony vases sell for hundreds of dollars while more modern, small pieces sell for less than one hundred. Rare pieces of cranberry and carnival glass from Fenton can sell for thousands of dollars.

Art glass

stained glass lamp with flower

This type of collectible glassware refers to the innovative styles created at the beginning of the 20th century. Brands like Tiffany, Durand, Quezal, and Stueben led the movement, but many companies produced a variety of styles and colors. Some had vibrant colors, iridescence, or patterns from nature while others featured bold designs.

Generally speaking, art glass is one of the most popular styles to collect and can be pricey. But, many seek specific pieces from certain makers, which can greatly affect the value. Every company has identifying marks that can help you determine which maker created a piece. But, you will need to pay attention to the styles, colors, and markings of genuine pieces to make sure you are getting antiques at auction instead of reproductions.

Crystal glassware

This style looks similar to regular glass, but it is high-quality and made with lead. The wealthy have enjoyed its light-reflecting qualities and since the 19th century, it has been a popular serving choice for hosts. Collectors consider pieces of crystal glassware made before World War I to be antiques, while pieces made afterward to be vintage.

You can identify this type of glass by sight and sound. It is stronger, heavier, and smoother and will reflect light in a soft prism of colors. If you lightly tap it, the glass should make a “pinging” sound. Well-known manufacturers marked the bottom of their pieces, so they can be easier to identify.

The value of crystal glassware varies, but decorative pieces and those made during the American Brilliant period can sell for thousands of dollars. The selling price will depend on the maker, styles, and condition.

red, orange, and yellow carnival glass chicken

Carnival glass

This style, created by Fenton Glass Company, was a more affordable option than Tiffany’s Favril glass. Because people didn’t want to pay a high price, carnival glass was often given as prizes for winning carnival games. By 1925, it fell out of popularity in the United States but was favored again in the 1950s.

Carnival glass is known for its sheen and multiple colors that change at different angles. Age, item type, color, size, and condition all affect the value of these collectibles. Rare colors like marigold and ice green sell for thousands of dollars. Full sets or pieces made before the 1940s also sell for large sums.

Depression glass

depression glass bowl

This type of glassware is some of the most known in the industry. When the stock market crashed in 1929, glass was still a commodity. People needed glassware to host guests, use it every day in the home, and have something decorative to enjoy. Depression glass served this purpose well.

Today, collectors can still find a huge variety of depression glass in different colors, styles, and sizes. Etched designs, light or opaque colors, and geometric shapes are common. When pieces of depression glass were made, they often had flaws. These do not affect their value, though, and help collectors identify them as authentic. The most valuable pieces of depression glass are uncommon objects, have intricate patterns and designs, are pink or green, and are in great condition.

Interested in attending estate auctions in Texas?

If you would like to find glassware and other antiques and collectibles, High Plains Auctioneers can help. We host a variety of auctions including estate, farm, and equipment auctions. You can reach us at (806) 244-6776 or Contact Us by email. Don’t forget to check out our Upcoming Auctions to see what we will have available!