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Souvenirs In Glass
Glass souvenirs did not first appear at the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876, but much earlier. Little keepsakes or "whimseys" had always been made in blown glass. The cheap pressed glass made them profitable items, especially for fairs and expositions. Plates and tumblers were pressed with pictures of the event where they were to be sold. Small articles such as match and toothpick holders and little creamers and mugs were particularly popular. The mugs were often stained red and engraved with an inscription. Thousands of these small articles were made for the large expositions, such as the Chicago Fair in 1893, as well as the popular county fairs. The juvenile or the adult collector will enjoy these little dated historical articles. Collectors are also attracted to the covered animal dishes that were sold in carload lots as mustard containers. One factory advertised them in "barnyard" groups.
After the depression of the early i8gos, a large number of glass factories combined. Many went into the more profitable business of manufacturing lighting ware or containers, the bottles or jars used for storing and packing. A number continued to make cheap pressed glass for the growing premium business as well as for retail trade and for mail-order houses. Some of these glass houses imitated the patterns in the cut glass popular toward the end of the nineteenth century.
The collector of Victorian glass has a wide choice of styles and colors in either pressed or blown ware. Prices vary considerably from expensive art glasses such as Amberina, which actually contains gold, to souvenir mugs that can be purchased for as little as thirty-five to fifty cents. If you have the collecting urge, a visit to several antique shops is advisable. Often some pattern or type will catch your interest. Of course it is wise to learn as much as possible about the chosen glass before you undertake serious collecting.
Many collectors start with family heirlooms. The beginner can often find valuable pieces at her mother's or grandmother's home. Perhaps the start of a collection is in a familiar cupboard. There are also still many unsearched attics.