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Collecting Antique Glass

Everyone, it seems, has the urge to collect either something modern or antique. A tablesetting of pressed ware of the 1880s or a cabinet of lovely old American glass will please different people. There are diverse opinions about antique collections and there are few definite rules for a new collector to follow.

Many are puzzled by the word antique. In 1931 the United States Treasury Department for purposes of establishing customs duties, declared that any work of art made before 1830 (except rugs, carpets, and musical instruments), should be considered an antique. Thus the object would be at least one hundred years old.

Most lexicographers agree that an antique is an article belonging to a much earlier period than the present. To the people of our young country, fifty years may seem as long as several hundred to Europeans, or several thousands to Egyptians. Everything is relative.

There are reasons, however, for choosing the year 1830. It is considered the beginning of the machine age, the ending of the era of handicrafts. From about that time on Americans emphasized mass production and standardization, rather than quality.

For those who insist that only handmade articles are worth considering, the glass collector can point out that most nineteenth-century glass was made by skilled craftsmen. It was handpressed and, during the first half of the century, hand-finished. The so-called art glasses of the late Victorian era were blown and decorated by hand. Intricate molds made by skilled artisans were used by equally skilled glassblowers. In fact glassmaking required almost as much skill in the I800s as it had in previous centuries.

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