How to Identify Antique Etched Glass


Antique etched glass is admired for the intricacy and beauty of its design. Delicate pictures decorate glassware, windows and mirrors. Etched scenes shimmer amid brilliant cut glass to create effects of unparalleled richness. Generations ago, glassmakers were masters at the art of using acid to cut fine lines into the surface of pressed glass. Many of these objects are highly valued by today's collectors.

Things You'll Need

  • Fluorescent black light
  • Check pieces of glass for the presence of period designs. The Victorian Era was the heyday of etched glass. Designs typically follow one of the many historic "revivals" of 19th-century décor.

  • Look for elaborate patterns of scrollwork and swags interspersed with cartouches and arabesques. These rococo patterns were a favorite of private homes and public houses.

  • Examine pieces to determine the setting of the etched designs. Etched lines and pictures are often associated with areas of brilliant cut, gilded and frosted glass that function as a backdrop, or frame, to the main scene.

  • Note areas of brilliant cut glass. The brilliant cut technique involves the cutting of facets into the glass and was especially popular from about 1876 to 1914.

  • Examine the brilliant cut facets for evidence of modern diamond-edged glass cutting tools. Antique facets are also generally half as thick as modern imitations. And most significantly, if held under fluorescent black light, modern imitations will reveal a pink or purple color.

Tips & Warnings

  • Become familiar with patterns that have been reissued. Compare these modern examples with authentic examples of the same design.
  • Watch out for patterns from later periods. Some Depression Era pieces are etched while many are not.


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