Glass Glossary Guide To Proper ID

"Bright Red Glass Vase - a Lovely Shade of Sky Blue!"

OK, just how is it that something red can also be blue? If the above title grabbed your attention only because it seemed a somewhat silly, illogical statement, then it should be easy to understand why a misnamed glass item in a listing might also grab the attention of someone knowledgeable about glass.

Consider this: isn’t it likely that a customer aware of the true characteristics of Peachblow glass will raise his or her eye brow every time they see a glass item referred to as Peachblow glass not because it is the real thing but because it happens to be pink? If your name was Margaret Smith but whenever you were introduced to someone your friend said, "This is my friend, Betty Jones." Would you think: (a) you should always wear a nametag, (b) the joke had gone far enough, or (c) your friend wasn't much of a friend if they couldn't recognize you when they saw you or remember your real name?

There are a variety of scenarios that can result in glass items being misidentified, including honest mistakes; but some e-commerce sellers seem to have the strange notion that it doesn't matter if items are identified correctly. One of the first pieces of ‘bad’ advice a prospective new e-commerce seller often receives is: it is more important to attract lookers to a listing than the accuracy of the item description. This 'quantity not quality' mind-set has become so prevalent on the Internet today that search engine programmers are constantly struggling to perfect sort algorithms in an attempt to keep search results relevant.

In reality, if an item has been accurately identified and a customer seeking that specific type of item can be lead quickly to it because of the proper use of keywords, that one 'hit' is immensely more important to the seller than a thousand daily visits from parties lured to a listing by terms that do not apply. Consequently, the customer is left feeling frustrated and misled because what they have ‘found’ is neither what they are looking for nor what is being advertised.

When it comes to collectors, the specific name of their item isn't just a keyword they happen to utilize to help them find there favorite type of collectible, it is the name of something that is special to them. And often the collectible has personal significance. Some extraordinary collections have been accumulated by succeeding members of the same family and have come to seem like part of the family. Whenever a shop owner uses an identification term incorrectly in reference to a type of glass they risk inviting indignation into the mind of a customer who happens to be a collector of that glass and for whom its peculiar properties seem special, obvious and sacrosanct.

Some glass terms are more commonly mistaken and misused than others. To assist individuals in quickly identifying the most common characteristics of the more popular collectible glass items we have assembled a short list of glass terms for your reference. We have also included corrupted definitions that may apply. New terms may be added from time to time, so please check back for later additions. Suggestions for definitions that have been omitted are welcome.

Glossary of Glass Terms

Amberina - First patented in 1833 by the New England Glass co., this is a dual colored glass that is a clear yellow at the base, shading gradually to a deep red at the top. If the colors are at opposite ends to that which is normally presented, it is called 'reverse Amberina.' Glass in this color combination is still being made.

Amethyst - This term properly references glassware of a dark purple shade. So called, 'Black Amethyst' is a color of glass that appears opaque black to the eye but shows a dark purple when back-lit with a strong light. 

Art Glass - Properly references any of various types of glassware made primarily for decoration rather than function.

Burmese - First patented in 1885 in the U.S. by Frederick Shirley of Mt. Washington Glass Co. Also made in England by Thomas Webb & Sons. True Burmese glass will almost always be mouth blown. The few exceptions are pattern molded with a hobnail, diamond quilted, or ribbed exterior. This glass can have one of two surface finishes - the original Burmese has a soft, shiny finish; but it can also be found with a velvet or satin finish. This glass is a delicate yellow at the base that shades to a salmon-pink at the top (color may vary slightly). It was never cased or lined but will always be a single thickness of glass with the color change inherent in the body.

Cameo - Typically, two or more layers of colored glass in which the top layers are then cut or etched away to create a multi-colored design in relief. This glass is usually of multiple, colored layers, although it can have a single layer and be of clear glass.

Carnival Glass - Originally inexensive patterned glassware with an over-all iridescent surface finish. Made in different colors of glass bodies, a wide variety of patterns and differing primary surface colors. The original Carnival type glass was made from about 1900-1930, but it still being manufactured today. There are collectors who prefer only the original ware who have no interest in later production periods. It is generally fairly easy to differentiate between the old and the new, as the surface finish of each is distinctive. However, if you are not familiar with this type of glass, mistakes can be made in its representation and caution is advised. If you aren't sure, find out. Do not confuse Carnival glass with Flashed glass (see below) or newer ware that has a sprayed on color finish applied.

Cased (or Case) Glass  - Term applied to glass made up of two or more layers of glass n different colors.

Cranberry - In reference to glass the color of cranberries, only. To call any shade of pink, red or amber glass 'cranberry' is incorrect. Cranberry glass was often decorated with enamels.

Custard glass - Named for the dish it resembled, it can be a shade of light yellow or ivory, and is always opaque. If held to a strong light most pieces will display a fiery opalescence because the formula used to produce the glass contains Uranium salts. The Uranium salts also make the glass glow brightly under blacklight illumination.

EAPG – (Early American Pattern Glass) Patterns produced by various companies from 1830 to 1915.

EAPC – (Early American Prescut) A glass pattern produced from 1960 to 1999. It is not a Depression Era pattern.

Flashed glass - Popular from Victorian times to the present. Flashing is a decorative effect produced by partially coating the surface with a thin plating of glass of a different color, often red. If you hold a piece of Flashed glass to the light and look closely at the rim you will be able to see that it is more than a single layer of glass. Kings Crown is a type of Flashed glass. 

Latticino - A type of glassware first made by the Venetians in the 16th century and still being produced today. Latticino glass has an interior network of filament-like, white lines, which appear to crisscross themselves. 

Millefiori - Another type of glass for which the Venetians are well known and which has been produced for centuries. Colored glass rods are closely bundled and fused together. Slices of these bundles have the appearance of tiny flowers and are embedded in glass objects for a decorative effect.

Vaseline glass - A peculiar yellow to yellow/green color glass that fluoresces bright green under UV light. Made from 1840 to the present. 'Vaseline Glass' is not a term to reference any colored glass that may glow under black light. 'Vaseline Glass' is a yellow/green color by definition. The fact that a piece of glass may glow under blacklight is also not a reliable way to date glass. Please note the date range given for 'Vaseline glass'; many makers today produce reproduction 'Vaseline', as well as other colors of glass, that will also glow under blacklight. 

Green Vaseline - The original and correct term corrupted. This phrase is used in reference to any green glass, primarily Depression Era glass that also glows under UV. It is incorrect to use this term as green is not the color of Vaseline glass. That an item of glass happens to glow under blacklight does not make it 'Vaseline'. The proper term for this effect is 'florescence.'

Peachblow - There are actually three rather distinct gradations of color in antique glass made by three different companies that can properly be referred to as 'Peachblow.'

  1. Wheeling Peachblow shades from bright yellow at the base to deep, mahogany red at the top. It was made by Hobbs, Brockunier of Wheeling, West Virginia beginning around 1883 and was the first Peachblow type of glass to be made. It is cased, two-layered ware which always has a milk white glass lining. It can be found with either a glossy or matte finish, with the glossy finish being the most common. This is the only one of the three major types to be lined.
  2. Mt. Washington Peachblow has a completely different color scheme from that of Wheeling examples, shading from blue-gray at the base to rose pink at the top. It, too, can be found in both glossy and matte finishes, but it was never lined. Like Burmese glass, it will always be a single thickness of glass. Mt. Washington did not prove as popular as Wheeling and consequently it was produced for only a couple of years, from 1886 to 1888. Today, it would be considered a rare find.
  3. New England Peachblow, patented in 1886 by the New England Glass Co., shades from opaque white at the bottom to deep rose pink at the top. Though some pieces can be found with a glossy finish, it is mostly found in matte. It is always a single layer of glass and was never lined or cased.

Please note: Cased items of pink satin (matte surface finish) glass are often identified as 'Peachblow.' The only one of the three major types of ‘Peachblow’ to resemble pink satin glass is New England ‘Peachblow”, which is never lined. This one fact should assist shop owners in easily differentiating the newer production wares from the authentic originals.

The Fenton Glass Co. did produce a glass that they marketed under the name Peach Blow in 1939. It was a cased pink and white glass. It was revived and made again from 1952-56. If this particular Fenton glassware is tagged “Peach Blow,” it is being represented correctly, since that is the name it was originally manufactured under, but it should always be clearly identified in a listing as something other than Peachblow from the Victorian era made by the Mt. Washington, Hobbs and New England glass companies. 

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