Gabriele's Emporium: Can you tell the Genuine from the Reproduction?

Trying to figure out if it’s real or a reproduction can be difficult with just about any collectible item.  Many times there is not really a common thread to look for in the pieces, some of the older reproductions are very good and have slipped by the best of us.

My first recommendation to anyone collecting; be it Open Salts, Carnival Glass or Victorian Glass Novelties, is to buy at least one book!  You can also check your local library to see what books they may carry.  Since this article is on Open Salts the books that I would recommend are:

5,000 Open Salts, A Collector’s Guide by William Heacock and Patricia Johnson

The Open Salt Compendium by Sandra Jzyk & Nina Robertson

Any of the books written by Allan B. and Helen B. Smith. Their books are out of print, but you can usually find them on AbeBooks

The other recommendations would be the purchase of a small black-light that you can carry with you when on the hunt for a new treasures.  This is because black-light testing is commonly used to authenticate antiques and Vaseline Glass.  Last, but not least…  join a club!

Most salt collections contain salts primarily from the Victorian era, 1837 to 1901, in various patterns.  Learn your patterns. Learn how it feels in your hands and what it looks like.  Study your pieces. There is a feel to Victorian glass which makes it different from other glass.

Reproduced glass has a certain feel of its own. Many of the cheaply made reproductions feel oily. When you touch the glass, it has a slick feeling to it; but be careful with this rule, as French Opalescent Glass can feel oily too, and it’s not a reproduction!

Many times on reproductions, the coloring is off. It can either be too light or too deep of a color.  Some colors were never made in certain patterns, so that is the biggest give-away! There could be small differences in weight and/or minute differences in the measurements.  You will also find that there are exceptions to every rule, so be careful.

Getting back to the two salts shown, at first glance one might think that the paler of the two blue salts would be the genuine.  That would be incorrect, this salt measures height 2.5″, weight .166 grams, length 2.75″.

According to the 5,000 Open Salts, A Collector’s Guide by William Heacock and Patricia Johnson, the genuine salt is height 1 1/8″.  I thought that you might appreciate having the rest of the measurements, so here they are: length 2.5, weight .162. Notice the difference in measurements and the weiight.

So for me the Basics of Salting (looking for salts) comes down to these points:

  • Ask questions, be firm and insist on complete answers, no wishy-washy, ’round the bush answers.

  • Ask if the dealer/vendor guarantees the authenticity of the item – if the answer is no, you’re taking a chance.

  • Get to know the patterns and the feel of the glass, this will even help when making on-line purchases.

  • Remember, there are exceptions to every rule – dealers who purchase whole estates usually expect to make their profit on the large items.  They may know very little about salt cellars and revenue from the sale of these is viewed as gravy.  So, in cases like this, there is a chance for a bargain.

Happy Salting!

Gabriele Esliger

Gabriele's Emporium

Antique & Collectible Glass come find a new treasure or a Fine piece of Handcrafted Jewelry
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