I have long loved and appreciated Antique art glass. There are so many beautiful artistic pieces to choose from long, delicate, graceful shapes or a brilliant cranberry red or delicately intricate design. Collecting antique art glass in the 21st C. is getting more difficult but can be fun and rewarding as well.
The techniques and chemistry of making antique art glass had been known in Europe since the early 19th century, and the increased ability to mass produce items in the early 1900’s enabled designers such as Rene Lalique to produce millions of pieces. But, it wasn’t until many British and Bohemian glass makers emigrated in the 1850’s that America became interested in the process.
The boom in American art glass did not begin until 1883 when Joseph Locke of the New England Glass Company invented and patented a new method of shading colored glass by reheating it, known as Amberina. Amberina is a transparent glass which contains gold powder giving it an amber color, but when the glass is reheated the amber color changes to ruby red.
Locke’s method was copied by the Mt. Washington Glass Company in America later giving it the name Rose Amber of which is very difficult to distinguish from Locke’s antique art glass pieces. This new development created an increased interest among glass designers to explore and experiment with glass more as an art form and as a sculptural material.
Many new methods and techniques were created and art glass production exploded, producing beautiful new designs, colors and surfaces, appealing to new buyers and giving the collector a variety of beautiful pieces to choose from. Antique art glass includes cameo glass, Burmese, Mercury glass, Albertine, enameled glass, and Peach Blow to name a few. Many of these same techniques have continued to be used by contemporary glass makers.
Victorian Amberina New England Glass Company
Resource Antique Central general information and history of antiques and collectibles.