How to Price Antique Glass

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Antique glass is highly prized by collectors, many of whom seek out one or two patterns as a lifetime hobby. Sellers are not only required to price glassware competitively, but they must also be informed about glass patterns, company history, and manufacturing dates, as well as reproduction glass on the market that may ruin dealer credibility. Pricing glass is not an easy task, but there are many print and online resources that make this job easier.

Things You'll Need

  • Library of books about glass
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Digital or print-film camera
  • Notebook and highlighters

How to Price Antique Glass

Get as much first-hand exposure to glassware as possible and become familiar with antique glass terms such as Depression, pressed, carnival, and art glass. Photographs online and in books often fail to accurately show etching or pressed patterns that are clearly visible when you hold the actual glass item in your hand. Visit antique malls, shows, and auctions to view glass and chat with dealers and visitors. Ask for permission to take photos, or use online image downloads of the items.

Make up a personal pricing book. Use the photographs from Step 1 to collect patterns, styles, and colors of glass, with their pricing. Make a note on the photograph of the asking price or auction sale prices. Be sure to record the date of the auction or mall visit, since the glassware market has seasonal and interest variations. Prices are usually higher during the holiday season and in a strong economy. Prices for rare and hard-to-find pieces usually increase over time.

Purchase glass-pricing books. The price guides listed in these books are usually made by the author based on the date the book was written and published, but the photographs provide an excellent resource to begin building a personal pricing base. Many dealers make notes on the images in these books as a guide to pricing personal inventory.

Network with other sellers to determine what is selling on the market. Antique glass, like all antiques and collectibles, has periods of "hot" markets for certain types of glass. Find out from other sellers what is selling in each geographic region. Clear glass may not be selling well, but cranberry-colored glassware may be a hot item.

Become familiar with glass patterns and designs that are currently in production, such as Fenton Art Glass (http://www.fentonartglass.com/), by checking online sources and factory web pages for products. Be aware of companies making modern glass reproductions of antiques, such as Tiffany Studios (http://www.tiffany-studios.com/). Learn the differences between new and old glass.

Develop a glass specialty. Focus on several manufacturers that sell well in your region and join the professional collectors' groups. Some of the largest American producers were the Imperial, Westmoreland, Cambridge, and Indiana Glass Companies.

Tips & Warnings

  • Glass sellers are typically also collectors. There is a large group of dealers who regularly chat on the Internet glass boards and chat rooms, such as Yahoo! and eBay. The groups are usually quite friendly and willing to assist in identifying problem pieces, frequently viewing the job as a refresher for their professional skills.

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