It is easy to get confused when shopping for glasswares. They are highly sought after as collectibles, but the differences between pressed glass, cut glass, cut crystal, blown glass and blown crystal are not often understood. Understanding these methods and materials can help you determine the quality and value of many types of glassware.
Glassware is made of glass or crystal and is created by pressing, cutting or blowing. It can function to serve, store or display food or to simply be decorative. Common glassware includes drinking glasses, trays, bowls, plates, figurines and sculptures. Some glassware is stamped or etched with a maker's mark, logo or name on the bottom of the piece, but many are not. A piece's origin may not be able to be traced, but the method of construction and relative quality should be able to be discerned with some training.
Pressed glass was created in the 19th century as a less expensive substitute for cut glass and crystal. It is mass-produced by pressing hot glass into a prefabricated mold. "Depression Glass," a popular collector's item, is a type of pressed glass. Pressed glass can be identified by its texture, as the inside of pressed glass is smooth and the outside is textured. A pressed glass piece will also have seams where the pieces of the mold were fitted together. Bubbles and fold marks are common sights in this type of glass.
Cut glass has been traced back to ancient Egypt. The patterns on cut glass are created by hand with the assistance of tools or machines. Cut glass is a step up in quality from pressed glass. Cut glass pieces will feel heavier than pressed glass and will not have seams. Cut glass varies dramatically in quality. It is important to look at the fineness, consistency and intricacy of the pattern to determine how well-made a piece of cut glass is. (See cutglass.org link in References)
Crystal is considered to be the finest quality glassware available. Crystal is created when lead is added to the components of glass. Crystal has greater clarity and reflects more light than glass, and it is also heavier. It is more delicate than cut or pressed glass as the lead causes the surface to be softer and more prone to scratching. Lead crystal is also more sensitive to changes in temperature and can crack easily when submitted to extremely hot or cold substances.
Blown Glass and Crystal
Glass or crystal can be blown into a variety shapes. Common blown pieces include wine glasses, ashtrays and vases. The surface of blown glass and crystal is smooth and will have no seams. It can be machine blown or mouth blown. Injecting molten glass into a mold by machine creates machine blown glass or crystal. Shaping molten glass or crystal by a person's breath distinguishes mouth blown glass or crystal. Machine blown glass or crystal is less expensive than mouth blown glass or crystal. Blown glass and crystal pieces tend to be rounded or organically shaped.
- Photo Credit All images by Glamour Goes Green
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