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Glass (A) - Encylopedia Of Antiques

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AGATA GLASS: Made at Cambridge, Massachusetts, resembling peachblow, with a spattered mottling on a glossy finish.


AMBERINA GLASS: A lead glass, usually blown, with a lustrous finish of a pale amber color shading to ruby made by the New England Glass Co. of Cambridge. It was very popular and a similar glass is now being made by the Libbey Glass Co. (q.v.), successors to the New England Glass Co. A quite similar glass was also made at Mt. Washington Glass Works at New Bedford.

AMELUNG GLASS WORKS: At New Bremen, Maryland, variously known also as New Bremen Glass Works, Etna Glass Works and the American Glass Manufactory. This factory was established by John Frederick Amelung, a German who came to America in 1784 and brought with him German glass-workers, and in the following year began to produce glass in a variety of kinds; window glass, flint table glass, bottles, decanters and looking-glass for mirrors, etc. The quality of the product will compare favorably with the glass of other early makers. The works were in operation about six years. There were three or four other glass factories nearby of which little is known. Authenticated pieces of Amelung glass are very rare. At least one marked piece is known to exist.

AMERICAN FLINT GLASS WORKS: South Boston, Massachusetts. Prior to the organization of this company about 1850, there had been a factory in Essex Street (q.v.), Boston, which in 1811 was moved to South Boston, continuing until about 1820, when it failed. There were five successive attempts by five different firms to revive the industry, until finally the above company was established under the direction of Patrick Slane. Their product consisted of all kinds of pressed and cut glassware. About 1870, the concern went permanently out of business.

AMERICAN GLASS: Glass-making was one of the first crafts to be started in the American colonies. Glass was made in 1608 at Jamestown, Virginia, but was soon after abandoned. Salem, Massachusetts, had a glass factory in 1639 which continued for three or four years. A dark glass of poor quality was made at Quincy, Massachusetts, between 1750 and 1760. The first successful factory was that at Wistarberg (q.v.), New Jersey, started by Caspar Wistar in 1739. The factory at Glassboro (q.v.), New Jersey, was started in 1775 and that at Kensington (q.v. ), Pennsylvania, a few years earlier. These two are still in operation and they are the oldest existing factories in this country.

The first American glass was usually of a greenish color, coarse and full of bubbles. Blue and brown glass made their appearance later. Window glass was the chief product of all of these early factories. Doubtless, the early glassware was influenced in style and design by the workmen drawn from glass-works in England, Ireland, Holland, Germany and France. These workmen drifted in time from one glass-works to another, leaving something of their influence in each. Because of their knowledge and experience they had little difficulty in finding employment. Some of the finest glass ever made in this country was produced by these craftsmen, especially in their off hand pieces made for their own use or for gifts to others.

In early factories, window-glass and bottle-making seemed to go together. About 1837, factories were built exclusively for making bottles and flasks, and this became an important branch of the industry. The factories where flint glass was made manufactured table and other ware, both blown and pressed. Cut glass began to be advertised about 1830. After the beginning of the 19th century the development of glass-making in this country became more a matter of industry than craft, and much of the product was below the standard of the earlier factories. The introduction of lime glass, cheaper than lead flint, in the last half of the 19th century, increased the production of pressed glass to enormous proportions. Excellent examples of early American glass are to be seen in our museums, notably the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia,, and the Garvan collections at Yale and Andover. See GLASS.


ANTIQUE GLASS: The collecting and classification of antique glass is a difficult undertaking, and, to the uninitiated, not especially satisfactory. All varieties of early glass have many points in common. Generally speaking, it is not easy from the color, form, quality or decorative technique of a piece of glass to determine the particular factory of its origin. Quality and shape are, in later times, easily imitated. Old glass never was buffed; the new glass is buffed. The bottom of a piece of old glass which has been used is almost like ground glass in appearance, and old glass is seldom true to form. The presence of the pontil-mark is reassuring, but it is not a positive means of identification, as some glass is made today with the pontil rod.

In the field of American glass many of the finest specimens, bearing every apparent indication of 18th-century production, were blown in relatively obscure factories in various parts of the country during the early and mid-l9thcentllry period. The only training for the collector who would guard against imposition is the constant handling of old and authentic pieces. Not only the eye but the hand must be trained. In any case of doubt, refer the question to someone who can speak with authority. See FRAUDS.