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Cased glass was not new in the nineteenth century but became very popular. The term "cased" is applied to glass of more than one layer of contrasting colors (with or without a clear layer). These layers can be put together by several different methods, and frequently are referred to as lining, plating, or flashing. Usually the terms "plating" and "flashing" are applied to glass that has a very thin outside layer. The Romans knew how to make cased glass. The famous Portland Vase in the British Museum in London is the product of their skill in design and glassworking technique. A shell or cup was formed and set in a container while a gather of a contrasting color was quickly and gently blown into it. The two were fused and the article finished according to the decorative effect desired.
A quicker method of casing is usually called "flashing," that is, a gather of one glass is covered with a gather of a contrasting color, and then finished. By this method a thin layer of one of the metals could be used, thus saving costly material such as gold-ruby glass.
During the 1860s cased glass cut in patterns was popular for vases, lamps, scent bottles, and a few other items. The outside layer of opaque white was cut through to form a pattern on the colored layer beneath. This is generally called "Overlay." The designs were simple all-over patterns. The cutting of the pattern required a steady hand and accurate eye. This glass is a favorite of collectors who wish a few decorative pieces.
Cameo glass is a cased ware in which the outer layer forms the design. (The Portland vase is the outstanding example.) The undercoat is the background. A great deal of skill is required to make cameo glass by the old process of hand grinding (on a rotating wheel). The use of hydrofluoric acid in the latter part of the nineteenth century eliminated or reduced to a minimum the handwork.