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Art Glass Of The 1880s

By 1880 Midwestern factories were established as the leading producers of glass. Their output in pressed ware for domestic and foreign markets was tremendous. Since factories in the East could not compete in this line, they tried to maintain their business by bringing out more expensive blown wares. These became known as the "art glasses." Like pressed ware, they have their good and bad examples. Few of them proved really profitable.

One of the most popular was the Amberina glass, which was produced and patented in 1883 by the New England Glass Company. It was a transparent glass blown in various shapes and patterns, although some pressed and cased pieces were made, though probably not at Cambridge. Amberina is one of the many heat-treated glasses. After an article was blown, one end was carefully reheated to produce a lovely ruby tone which blended into the amber of the unheated part. This ruby coloring varies in different pieces from a deep ruby to a cranberry hue. Amberina was one of the few art glasses made in a large variety of articles. Collectors can find this lovely glass from Boston to New Orleans.

The opaque shaded glasses such as Peachblow (white to pale pink), and Burmese (yellow to a soft rose), were made in the same way, that is, one section was reheated to bring out the color. These, however, were usually giv,-n a dull mat or finish. Peacjsblow made at Wheeling, West Virginia, had a thin opaque white lining. The outside layer blended from yellow to deep pink and was left shiny. Like Amberina, the Burmese glass, which was often decorated with enamels, proved very popular. Queen Victoria, herself, ordered "two pairs of vases."

One of the loveliest of the art glasses is the Satin type. It is a flashed glass in combinations of opaque white, clear, and pastel pinks, yellows, greens, and blues. Much of it is shaded. It was molded in herringbone, diamond, and oval patterns, and covered with enough clear glass to fill the interstices. Usually Satin glass was given a dull finish.

Overshot glass was an ingenious attempt at Sandwich to produce something different. The gather was rolled in particles of crushed glass which melted into the surface leaving a rough effect. In Spangled ware, flakes of mica sandwiched between layers of colored and clear glass present a bizarre appearance. Vasa Murrhina contains bits of colored glass which fused with the original gather to form a variegated ware. Gold and silver flecks were also used. Other at tempts such as Agata., Pomona, Tortoise Shell, Crackled, Threaded, Silvered, Spatter, and Lava glass were invented with the hope of attracting the public's interest.

In contrast to these wares is the beautiful Venetian latticinio and "striped" glass made by Nicholas Lutz at Sandwich. Paperweights with latticinio, millefiori, flowers, fruits, and portraits were ornamental pieces that displayed the skill of the American glassworker. These are collector's items that range in price from twenty-five to several hundred dollars.

Marble glass was an unusual type of pressed ware sometimes called Mosaic, Slag, or End of the Day. This opaque ware of white with brown, green, or purple resembles marble and was made in considerable quantities. Some collectors scorn this Victorian glass. However, others enjoy the natural patterns which were allowed to form in the glass when two colors were partially mixed before the blowing or pressing of the article. The purple and white combination is often very attractive.

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