Glass News from Angela, 18th September 2002

This issue discusses the often-confusing difference between European and USA definitions of "crystal" glass, and in particular what Fostoria meant by "crystal". We offer a few pointers about identifying crystal; some interesting things to say about cobalt blue glass; and our usual features of glass on ebay, glass events in the near future, an interesting on-line "closing-down sale" of glass books from Antique Publications; and some new books about glass that you may have missed.

Welcome to all the new readers receiving my Glass Newsletter for the first time, I hope you find it interesting and useful.

1: Cobalt Blue Glass:
Did you know that cobalt ore was used thousands of years ago to turn glass blue, but it was not until 1742 that a Swedish chemist identified the metal which caused this color, and it was named cobalt? There is a new page about cobalt blue glass on the Glass Encyclopedia at

Cobalt is a silver-colored metal, and cobalt oxide is the coloring agent which produces the blue glass we all know so well. It only needs 5 ounces of cobalt oxide in a ton of glass to turn the whole batch blue, and smaller amounts (around one ounce to a ton) are used to neutralise the yellow effects of iron impurities which often occur in glass. Take a look at the Glass Encyclopedia page (click here) if you would like to know more about cobalt blue glass.

2: Crystal Glass and Fostoria
It has puzzled me for a long time that Fostoria glass is often called "Fostoria Crystal" but the examples I have seen do not seem to be lead crystal. I recently acquired a little booklet produced by the Fostoria Glass Co. in 1973, which makes it all clear. It states that there are two established and generally recognized standards for using the word crystal. For art and table glassware made in America the Better Business Bureau criterion for crystal is .... "a transparent lead or lime glass as nearly colorless as can be obtained". In other words, crystal glass made in America may be clear and colorless, with no requirement for a lead content. But in Europe there is "an internationally influential standard governing the use of the term "crystal" and "lead crystal" based upon the requirements established by the leading crystal producing countries of Europe." According to this standard, the term "crystal" should only be used for glass which contains 10% or more lead oxide, and "lead crystal" should only be used for glass with 24% or more lead oxide. The term "full lead crystal" refers to glass with at least 30% lead oxide.

I often get asked how you can tell the difference between lead crystal and other glass. An easy way to tell is that the lead content makes "lead crystal" heavy. It is also very clear and sparkling, as well as strong enough to take deep cutting. If the cutting has crisp edges it has been hand cut and is most probably lead crystal. But note that some crystal factories "fire polish" their crystal glass - that is they put it back into the heat after cutting. This adds a high lustre to the glass, and it also takes away the sharp edges. Acid polishing the crystal after cutting can have the same effect.

And while we are on the subject, Fostoria did make some lead crystal glass, with 24% lead content, in patterns such as Panelled Diamond Point, Stowe, Alta, Vail, Aspen and others. But they always called it "lead crystal". When Fostoria referred to patterns that were made in "crystal" they meant colorless glass, not glass with lead in it.

And one last point about crystal glass, although the terms are used strictly by most European glass manufacturers, there is always the exception that proves the rule. One of my favourite glassmakers, Bagley's of Knottingley, made their art glass in a department they called "The Crystal Glass Company" and they often called their glass crystal. But very little of the glass they made ever had a high enough lead content to fit the European definition of crystal.

3: On ebay this week we have some very special art glass pieces from New Zealand, including a recent innovation from Peter Raos, his Van Gogh series. I hope you will take a look if only to enjoy the pictures, and maybe you will find something you like amongst these:

Peter Viesnik - it is a while since I had one of these stunning fish and undersea paperweights - you can see it on ebay #2056305589. This is a really excellent example.

Peter Viesnik - a classical white cala lily paperweight with cobalt blue base - on ebay #2056305372. This design is always popular.

And Peter Viesnik again - a spectacular cala lily paperweight with wonderful red colored lilies - on ebay #2056305834. Well worth taking a look!

Peter Raos - one of his new Van Gogh millefiori paperweights on ebay #2056312435 - a meadow of beautiful flowers depicted in glass.

Peter Raos - a Star o' the sea marine paperweight on ebay #2054742076 -this one has a red coral background to the rock pool full of marine life.

And Peter Raos again - an early one-off Yellow and Black Abstract paperweight on ebay #2054743451 -this came to light while I was sorting out the glass for my new studio.

From Keith Mahy, two classical shaped perfume bottles with masterly pulled trails - the first one has a black background with glass stripes in amber, gold, white and grey, on ebay #2056303412
- and the second one has an amethyst-black background overlaid with clear glass, and metallic blue glass stripes interspersed with white and grey, on ebay #2056303964

From Garry Nash we have a beautiful blue fountain paperweight with 22kt gold leaf on ebay #2056304839.

And from Peter Viesnik again, three more lovely paperweights:
- Seascape Peter's version of an undersea paperweight on ebay #2056305116
- Floral Posy paperweight in red on ebay #2054743586
- Blue Floral Fountain paperweight on ebay #2054743321

Last but not least of these wonderful examples of art glass, from Peter Viesnik - a beautiful tall perfume bottle with internal colors and external trailing - on ebay #2055292851. Well worth taking a look!

We even have - a book about glass on ebay this week - on ebay #2054754118. An excellent little reference book about glass lamps and lighting.

All these items are put up without reserve and so far most of them do not have any bids. If you would like to see a quick summary, click here.

4: Exhibitions and Glass Shows:

a: The Dudley annual Glass Festival takes place very soon in Stourbridge, England. It involves Broadfield House Glass Museum (tel. 01384 812745), the Redhouse Glass Cone (tel. 01384 812750), and the Ruskin Glass Centre (tel. 01384 399464). The dates are 26th to 29th September.
Broadfield House Glass Museum is putting on a 'Pressed Glass Weekend' on the 28th and 29th September (Saturday and Sunday). There will be displays by specialist dealers including a small display of Cloud Glass. Address: Compton Drive, Kingswinford, West Midlands, England. Tel: 01384 812745.

b: Glass Bottle Shows -(click here) a listing of bottle shows all across the USA and the UK. Also covers jars and glass insulator shows, and some Antiques and Collectibles Shows. An excellent source of information.

c: Depression Glass Shows (click here) - a listing of depression glass shows across the USA - really useful.

d: Glass Behind the Iron Curtain, 1948-1978 Corning Museum of Glass, 16 May 2002 - 21 Oct 2002, New York.

5: Recent Books about Glass - for your information in case you missed them:

a: Florence Glassware Pattern Identification and Values, 3rd Edition - click here. Published October 2002 by Collector Books, author Gene Florence.

b: Murano-Glass: Themes and Variations (1910-1969) - click here. Published Jan 2003 by Arnoldsche, author Marc Heiremans (available now).

c: Mt Washington Art Glass Plus Webb Burmese Identification -click here . Published September 2002 by Collector Books, author Betty Sisk.

d: Roman Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass - click here to read more. Published September 2002 by Hudson Hills; author David Whitehouse

e: New Zealand Glass 2nd Edition -click here . Published July 2002; author A. M. Bowey. - last but not least!

6: Closing Down Sale - Antique Publications Books about Glass - in case you hadn't caught up with this, they are selling off their entire stock on-line at very good prices. Antique Publications, now the Glass Press - click here to read more.

I do hope there was something interesting for you this week.
Very best wishes

Useful links:
The Glass Museum at
The Glass Encyclopedia is at
The Glass Links Page is at
The Glass Message Board is at
My glass at auction
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