Identifying Glassware


A look inside the cupboards and china cabinets of most homes would reveal a diverse collection of glassware. For many of us, that glassware is a collection of pieces bought in a store, inherited from a friend or relative, and picked up at garage sales or flea markets. Glassware attracts all types of collectors, from the serious ones looking for expensive and unusual pieces to the casual collector who enjoys the glasses for their shape and beauty. Whichever camp you fall into, knowing the maker and pattern of your glassware helps you appreciate it even more and is valuable information if you choose to sell some of your pieces.

  • Examine your glassware. Look at your glass under strong light to find any maker's markings. These are usually located on the underside of the glassware. Many makers acid etch or engrav a signature on their wares. Use a magnifying glass because some markings have become hard to read due to time and wear. Others are buried in the decorative cuts often found on the bottom of stemware. Having a manufacturer's name helps you narrow your research. For example, if you find a name, see if the maker is still in business by looking for the company online. If the company still makes glassware, contact it for help in identifying the pattern name of your glass.

  • Use an identification guidebook. Visit your local bookstore or library to find guides that help identify glassware patterns and makers. If you were able to find a maker's signature when you examined your glassware, look for books specific to that maker. If you are still trying to identify both the maker and pattern of your piece, look for general guides or use some aspect of your glassware to narrow your search. For example, if you have glassware that is a pale pink, yellow or green, you may have a piece of depression glass. If your glass features many sharp, decorative cuts, you may own American brilliant cut glass.

  • Contact a glassware replacement company. A business such as Replacements, Ltd., which supplies replacement pieces of china, silver and glass, offers a free identification service. Send the company a picture of your glassware via e-mail, fax or regular mail. The company will use their resources to identify the maker and pattern. If you already know the maker, use the name to search the company's website. Make you own pattern identification by comparing your piece to the pictures and drawings available.

  • Get a professional opinion. If you are having trouble identifying your glassware or if you want a second opinion, take your piece or detailed pictures of the piece to an antiques store or a glass show. Ask for a dealer's help with identifying the maker and pattern. Also, look at the pieces for sale and see if any match what you have. If you have a large collection of glassware that you would like a valuation on for insurance purposes, hire a professional appraiser. That expert can give you identification information and a written appraisal regarding for how much the collection should be insured.

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  • "Florence's Glassware Pattern Identification Guide"; Gene Florence and Cathy Florence; 1998
  • "Warman's Depression Glass Field Guide: Values and Identification"; Ellen Tischbein Schroy; 2010
  • "Identifying American Brilliant Cut Glass"; Bill Boggess and Louise Boggess; 2010
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages  /Polka Dot/Getty Images
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