A Cut Above

April/May 1995
The Antique & Collectibles Trader

Venture into the world of American and Canadian Brilliant Cut Glass and you will discover sophisticated beauty, fine craftsmanship and practicality of product with style.

Approximate time period of production is 1876-1925. The "Early Period" is circa 1876-1895, the "Mid Period" is circa 1895-1915 and the "Late Period" is circa 1915-1925. Some factories did cut into the early 194O's, however the best time period of cutting was 1890-1915.

Hand blown and hand cut glass, for most part has been overlooked, under priced and least understood by many since its production to the present day. In terms of quality, this brilliant period cut glass is generally not understood. Consequently it is often times confused by novice buyers and dealers with crystal of Bohemian, English, Irish and Scottish origin. In addition, buyers often confuse pressed glass of intricate designs or patterns with those of cut glass, thinking that ''pressed glass'' is the same as "cut" glass.

The quality of early and mid brilliant cut glass in terms of cutting, intricacy of patterns and clarity of blanks exceeds most cut crystal glass of other origins. Appreciation of such glass is gained through reading books, talking with educated collectors and dealers, association with the glass itself and by visiting glass museums.

At any reasonable purchase price, these pieces are an immediate investment that can only gain in value; especially purchases made in Canada where prices are lower in comparison to the American market prices. Due to the fact that there is a much wider demand and knowledge base of such pieces by the American market, prices seem to be substantially higher. Cut glass does not necessarily have to be signed in order to have a greater value. Many glass factories did not begin to sign their glassware until approximately 1895. By 1905, signatures were more commonplace.Hawkes was one of the first companies to sign their glassware at this early date. Signatures ascertained ownership and protection to specific patterns attributed to specific companies and prevented exact copies of premium patterns being reproduced by other factories at the same time.

There is always that rarity or treasure to be found, below market price, which depends upon ones range of knowledge. Prices depend upon quality, condition, clarity of blank and whether the pattern is "Standard", "Choice" or "Premium". These are the three categories of this "Brilliant Period Cut Glass" of which the third category is of superiority. The "Premium" category is ranked for its irregularity and unique shapes, elaborate and exquisite cutting of pattern/designs and colors.

There is no major difference, in terms of cutting, between American and Canadian Brilliant Period Cut Glass. Many of the Canadian glass cutters were trained under American glass factories prior to emigrating to Canada after 1900. There, they learned the trade under the likes of Libbey, Toledo, Ohio., case in point would be Charles Clapperton who worked for Libbey, came to Desoronto, Ontario in 1905 and opened a glass shop and imported most of his blanks from Libbey and produced some of Libbey's patterns with permission from Libbey for several years.Roden Brothers apparently moved from the United States and in 1876 opened shop in Montreal until moving to London and Toronto Ontario in 1900-1907. Phillips Glass cutters of Montreal probably were also trained in the United States and were quite successful in Montreal and did some superior work; in the Sixties sold out to the Notre Dame Glass Works of Montreal and finally closed in the late 1980's. By then their work, as was Henry Birks of Montreal, was limited to repairing, engraving and selling glass on commissioned orders.

If you are interested in finding out more about this segment of the glass world, "American and Canadian Brilliant Cut Glass", you can contact Joseph Clement or John Hogan at Passion For The Past Antiques And Collectibles.

This article was first published Page 25 of "The Antique & Collectibles Trader, Vol 3. April/May 1995.  Antiques Collectibles Trader, P.O. Box # 38095, 55 Eglinton Ave., West, Toronto, Ontario, M5N 3A8, Canada. 416-410-7620

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