Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm A Collector of Many Things.... What Do You Collect? Part Two

I received my first piece of American Brilliant Period Cut Glass from my mother (The Brown Recluse) as a wedding present. She had been given the piece by a sister of her mother's. At 25, I wasn't impressed. I felt as if she hadn't even given us anything and I was fairly pissed off about it. However, moving on down the road, at age 45 I rediscovered the beauty of ABP (as those of us in the trade call it) when I inherited a large number of pieces from my mother-in-law, and I've been collecting it ever since.


When my mother-in-law was finally taken by the cancer that was raging throughout her body, it was left to me to get everything in order after the death of my beloved in-laws. In the beginning I couldn't last even 15 minutes before I started bawling again and would have to leave their house. Needless to say, it took me months to achieve my task. During that time I began a torrid love affair with glass. I was especially enamored with the ABP pieces. Having raised three boys (all 3 years apart), my mother-in-law wisely chose to hide the most exquisite pieces in every nook and cranny that couldn't be easily accessed by young boys.


As I discovered these pieces and carefully washed them, I was falling in love with not just the glass, but the lost art of cutting the glass as well. When I was drying each piece of cut glass, I noticed that the towel was literally being destroyed by the sharp cuts... and that fascinated me.


ABP was made between 1875 and 1915 and was highly popular among the wealthy, as it wasn't something the common man could afford. ABP was hand blown and hand cut, but toward the end of this era, labor saving steps and the onset of WWII resulted in the death of this incredible art. Baby-Boomers have rediscovered cut glass with the ultimate realization that not only is it part of our own parents heritage, but it could never be made in these times at the prices we pay for these exquisite pieces of art.


Since our parents' generation is slowly leaving us, it seems we are striving to preserve some of the beauty produced during their - and their parents' lifetimes. The cost to make cut glass comparable to ABP would be astronomical in this day and age. The hundreds of patterns made were intricately detailed with the finest craftsmanship available and a high content of lead, unlike pieces made today. It only takes a quick turn of an ABP piece under a light or in the sun, to experience the bedazzling qualities each piece possesses. The American Brilliant Period is a moment in our history that can never be repeated, only appreciated by collectors, new and old. Unfortunately, most people cannot tell the difference between cheap pattern glass and ABP cut glass without a fair amount of study. Personally, I collect specific pieces to only two different patterns. So, when I come across pieces in other patterns I offer them to my customers at reasonable and affordable prices. Often, it takes months of research to finally determine a pattern, while other patterns are quickly identified. If you want to know more about collecting ABP cut glass, then you'll need to do your homework. In my opinion, 'Evers' Standard Cut Glass Guide', Warman's 'American Cut Glass', and 'Collecting American Brilliant Cut Glass' by Bill and Louise Boggess are several of the best guides, because they have precise, clear drawings of various patterns shown in numerous different pieces, as well as detailed explanations about how it was made. However, there are dozens of other very good guides as well. So, happy collecting!





On a final note, I'd just like to say that anyone who doesn't like this stuff when holding it in the sunlight... is just plainly nuts. Antique Glass has proven itself time and again, to be a sound investment. Even during times when the economy has spiraled downward, antiques (if you know what you're doing) investments seldom fail to produce revenue.

Glass is just one of the many things I collect. What do you collect?

17 comments:

BJ Roan said...

Very interesting post. Gorgeous pieces. I collect pink depression glass. I inherited a piece from my paternal grandmother. It's a round butter dish in the cherry blossom pattern. Since then, I have collected several pieces of that same pattern. It's getting harder to find. At one time, auctioneers practically gave it away, now collectors run up the prices.

brneyedgal967 said...

I admire many things, but don't collect anything. My mother collects all kinds of things, maybe when she kicks the bucket I'll inherit some. Hopefully that won't be for a looooong time.

The ABP glass you described and have pics of is absolutely gorgeous. The candy pedestal is especially beautiful.

Mental P Mama said...

Apparently, I collect pounds.

Treasia said...

Very beautiful pieces. I don't collect glassware and only collect cheaper type things I have some room for. Like windchimes, hummingbird pieces, and dust.

Snooty Primadona said...

Hey - I collect dust too, lol.

The Incredible Woody said...

You have some beautiful pieces! I used to work for an auctioneer and you would be amazed at how cheap glass goes for at local auctions (not the big guys!). He had several antique dealers that would come regularly to his auctions because they knew they could get a bargain and then resell it in their shops!!

The Incredible Woody said...

That's where I started my love affair with crocks - although I haven't been able to afford very many!

Snooty Primadona said...

OMG! When can I come visit you Woody? I need some new stock, lol.

Flea said...

I think I have one piece - I'm going to photograph it and send you a picture. 'K?

I'm not much of a collector. That's always been my Hunny's thing. I grew up in a trailer in hurricane country, so collecting was frowned upon. I started collecting punch bowls and cups once, but only because I wanted the perfect set. Once I got the set I wanted, I got rid of the others. Except the Tom and Jerry milk glass set. Still trying to get rid of that.

Patricia said...

I collect early/mid 20th century barware which is quite awesome, but it's mainly silver, and a bee-och to keep polished. >:o\

It's true that fine cut glass and crystal has lost its popularity of late in favor of the modern mimimalist esthetic that's become the prefered home decor style in 21st Century America. However, I'm certain it'll come back. It's too beautiful not to. Your collection is gorgeous and as you mention, in sunlight (or for that matter candle light) there's nothing more romantic and breathtaking.

Snooty Primadona said...

I literally have hundreds of pieces now. The two I show in the pictures just happen to be my two favorites. Anyone that touches either one of these babies (besides me) might just lose an appendage.

;-)

Writer Chick said...

Fabric and paper and books. I know, I know. Very wierd. I'm a sucker for a beautiful piece of fabric. I really do intend to sew it up some day. But someday never comes. But one of these days, I'll be able to sew a quilt the size of Texas.

And paper... apparently my scrapbooking genes have mutated. I buy scrapbook paper like by the ream and have yet to put one picture on a scrapbook page and I've made dozens of scrapbook pages--just no pictures. I have a thing about taping or gluing down my pictures. Makes me shudder and feel queasy. But I'm in therapy for it. So one day soon, my family's faces will be plastered on 12 x 12 sheets of really bee-u-t-ful paper.

And books... I still have my favorite books from when I was 11 --The Donna Parker Mysteries. My book shelves runneth over.

And yep, dust bunnies. Big mutant ones that slink around under beds and behind bookcases. In a few years, I'll start naming them.

sista #2 said...

I have a few pieces of glass which I know nothing about. I have this gorgeous pair of glass candleabra's with thick inserts and another piece my mother(blessing myself) gave me.

I collect way too much stuff. 50's art glass vases, only have 2 pieces of 50's furniture. Bubble glass frames, and i love retro handbags. My one daughter made me one for Christmas and my other daughter got me an Enid Collins....love them both!!!!

I dont collect alot of one thing anymore, I have alot of stuff from a certain era. lol

peace
#2

thevinylvillage said...

I dont have any interesting collections...books and scale 1:18 model cars.

Snooty...you would enjoy my boss. He collects all manner of art, porcelains, glassware. A tour of his house will take over an hour as he tells the story of every single piece.

noble pig said...

Those pieces are so beautiful, I mean wow. The workmanship just doesn't exist anymore. Thanks for sharing it.

I collect wine. Scary I know.

WomenBloom said...

Hadn't thought of this stuff in years. My Grandmother used to have a few pieces of this...brought back some good memories, thank you! Really beautiful!

I'm in deep minimalist mode now, but I used to collect antique dishes (5 full sets plus many other odds and ends), textiles, sterling, and books, books books. I never thought of it as collecting books since that implies a system. I just BUY books, can't resist books, have them stacked all over everywhere.

asthmagirl said...

I used to collect China teacups, but only those "Made in Occupied Japan" from after the war. My Grammy would drag me to antique shops during the rare summers she had me down from Alaska. I had some nice pieces which my mother ended up with. When she died so suddenly, my brother hocked everything of value.

Sigh...

 

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