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Victorian Era In Glass
The term "Victorian" does not designate a particular style but rather a period characterized by ornateness, overdecoration, and a kind of stuffiness. The opening up of this country and its industrial expansion in the nineteenth century brought great wealth to some and more money to most of the citizens. It allowed people to fulfill the desire for possessions, to have fhe same as a neighbor, the rich man, or the celebrity. For most Victorians this resulted in an overabundance of everything. Simplicity gave way to showiness.
In the designing and manufacturing of glass the tendency showed up in several ways. Since every corner of a room, every table and stand had to be filled, a great deal of ornamental ware was produced. As houses were overdecorated, so was much of the glass. Colored ware was pressed in elaborate patterns and also gilded. Cased ware (articles made of two or three layers of contrasting glass), was cut until little was left of the outside layer. A single article was sometimes patterned, ruffled, and appliqued with flowers. Untrained women enameled thousands of articles with flowers, pastoral scenes, children, and animals.
The size of many articles was in scale with the high-ceilinged rooms. Imposing chandeliers, tall lamps, and vases filled the parlors. Large fruit bowls and compotes were necessary for every dining rooms. Victorian ornateness reached its height in tall epergnes-some standing more than two feet high.
Although the developments in glassworking after the Civil War tended toward the production of cheaper ware of poorer quality, some pieces that were made in the late nineteenth century were as beautiful as the earlier articles.While designing for mass production of pressed glass prevailed in most plants, there was also considerable thought and money spent on developing lovely color combinations and decorations in the blown ware. Many collectors prefer it to pieces of early American glass because of the soft coloring and more perfect fabrication.