Victorian Art Glass Developed Many New Techniques

By Anne Gilbert  

Late 19th century American art glass borrowed some of its motifs from nature; others, such as the filigree pieces, adapted Venetian styles. It was an exciting time in glassmaking history that resulted in glass such as the world had never seen before. The public couldn't get enough as hundreds of pieces from vases to miniature lamps came to the market. The names were as novel and sometimes as exotic as the color combination and techniques. There was "Crown Milano," made by the Mt. Washington Glass Company. Though there was nothing new about enameling and painting on opal glass, when it was named "Crown Milano, it became instantly popular. When "Burmese" glass was introduced by the company, the salmon pink and translucent yellow colors evoked visions of a Burma sunset.

Often, designs such as a fish swimming in a net of gold or a fern were used. These days, pieces can sell at auction for from $2,000 to around $6,000.

Two other popular Mt. Washington original techniques were shaded wares. "Peach Blow" and "Amberina" are the best known. Strangely, they weren't popular in their day, but they have become appreciated by today's' collectors. Amberina shaded amber to rust. Considered choice are peach blow pears and peach in the shape of the fruit.

In 1884, a patent for Vasa Murrhina Art glass was registered by John Charles De Voy in Sandwich, Massachu-setts. It is one of the most colorful examples of art glass and was named for "Vasa Murrhina," originally supposed to have been made by the Boston Sandwich glass Company. It was either transparent or cased with imbedded pieces of colored glass and mica flakes. These days, it is modestly priced from around $180 to $600.

"Onyx" glass was made beginning in 1889, adding a touch of elegance to the art glass market. Slightly opalescent, it was decorated with pattern molded floral and leaf motifs that were painted with a platinum luster. Prices range from around $300 to $1,600.

Imitating stone and marble in glass goes back to antiquity. However, it was once again made by the Challinor, Taylor & Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "Moss Agate" stone glass was originated by John Northwood and made by Stevens and Williams.

Historical events often led to creating a new type of Art Glass. Such was the case when late 19th century archeological digs at Troy, Mycenae, made discoveries of ancient glass and pottery. It was known as "Sicilian Ware" when Mt. Washington Glass Company marketed it as "lava glass." A lava tumbler sold at the summer James Julia Auction for well over estimate for $6,038.

CLUES: While Victorian Art Glass went out of fashion with collectors from the early 20th century to around 1960, it made a big comeback in the 1970s. Unfortunately, many types were reproduced. When buying either, do your research or get help from a knowledgeable dealer.

Learn about Glass


A Mt. Washington Burmese decorated sugar bowl. (Photo, courtesy James Julia Auctions.)

An art glass Lava tumbler.





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