Interior Decorating Information

Not All Glass is Created Equal

Pressed glass, Depression glass and crystal - this month we'll review the basics of these different types of glass and some tips on telling the difference.


Glass was first recorded being made in ancient Rome, Egypt and Syria. It was made by heating and fusing sand, potash or soda with lime.

Types of Glass

Soda glass, potash glass and lead glass are the three main types of glass.

Soda glass

Starting in the 13th century, soda glass was made in Venice. Glassmakers were able to form molten glass into elaborate shapes because it contained burned seaweed, making the glass very malleable.

Potash glass

Potash glass came from northern Europe. Potash was made from a combination of burned wood and bracken making the glass well suited for engraving and cutting.

Lead glass (crystal, lead crystal)

Starting in Europe in the 17th century, lead glass was developed. It was derived from adding lead oxide to potash glass. The words lead glass, lead crystal and crystal all mean the same thing. Crystal is simply a type of glass. It is the addition of lead to mix that makes crystal harder than regular glass. Crystal is less likely to have bubbles, which is helpful when cutting

Pressed glass

Popularized during the Victoria era, pressed glass is made from a mould and is less valuable than cut glass. You can identify pressed glass from the mould line that is visible and the less sharply faceted decoration.

Depression glass

Popularized during the Great Depression, companies such as Hocking Glass, Federal and MacBeth-Evans mass-produced this form of pressed glassware. It was often given away free as a gift with purchase. There are many colours and patterns available.

Decoration on glass

There are four types of decorations used to adorn glass: cutting, enamelling, gilding and engraving.


Facets cut into glass reflect light and create sparkle. One tip to help date a piece of glass is to look for shallow surface cuts which were used in the earliest days of glass cutting.


In the 15th century, the Venetians popularized the enamelling of glass that is a process of painting on glass.


It is a technique of adding gold decoration to glass that was often done by firing the gold onto a glass surface.


It was done by diamond point engraving (scratching the design onto the surface of the glass using a diamond nib), wheel engraving (scratching the design on the surface of the glass using small copper wheels rotating against the surface) stipple engraving (scratching the design onto the surface of the glass using fine diamond needle that taps out the design in a series of dots and lines) or acid etching (scratching the design on the surface of glass using a sharp tool then subjecting the glass to hydrofluoric acid which etched the design onto the glass).

How to tell crystal from cut glass

Weight is the number one tip-off that something is crystal rather than glass. The lead in crystal makes it is heavier than cut glass. The telltale ping when you flick your fingernail against crystal is another way to tell crystal from glass.

Why is modern-day crystal less brilliant than antique crystal

Crystal made in the early 1900s contains about 25 to 28 percent lead. Modern crystal contains only 10 to 12 percent lead. This reduction in the lead content makes modern crystal less brilliant than antique crystal.

How to tell if it is early glass

Old engraving will look dark and grey against a white background. New glass engraving will not look grey against a white background.

Spotting reproductions

There are many reproductions circulating because modern glassmakers made imitations of 18th century glass. There is nothing wrong with reproductions as long as you know that is what you are buying. You can spot reproductions three ways:


Reproductions may not have the distinctive tint caused by natural occurring impurities. Use the white background test; if the engraving looks grey against the white, the item is likely to be old.

Manufacturing signs

Machine-made glass will not have the rough bump under the stem that hand-blown glass will have. This bump results from the item being removed from the glassblower's rod. Also, hand-blown glass might have imperfections such as uneven thickness, ripples or striations that machine-made glass does not have.


Styles and proportions have varied over the years. One thing to look for is that the foot on antique glass is often as wide as the bowl.


Glass and crystal are one collectible where the secondary market is more affordable than the primary market. The reason is supply and demand. Plenty of crystal was made over the years, plenty of people took good care of it, and, as a result plenty of it is still around.

Martin Swinton owns Take-A-Boo Emporium, an antique shop located in Toronto, Canada. He does furniture restoration, caning and rushing repairs, custom reproductions, upholstery, teaches courses on antiques and does appraisals for estates and community events. He can be reached at 416-785-4555 or by visiting

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at

International Falls Journal

Looking Back: Mrs. Lee Grim stages interior decorating clinic at library
International Falls Journal
Mrs. Lee Grim, home economist and interior designer, arranges reproduction of cloth from the Williamsburg, W. Va., collection sold by Schumacher Fabrics for a display in the Falls Public Library during the Interior Decorating Clinic. The public may ...


Ten pictures that show off DJ Zinhle's interior decorating skills
It's been nearly four months since DJ Zinhle finished building her new home, and since it's been done, she's been giving us sneak peaks of how she's been decorating it herself. And by the looks of things, DJ Zinhle should consider venturing into ...


Can The Way You Decorate Your Room Improve Your Sleep?
Of course, if you live on a highly polluted main road in London, this might not apply to you. If you have a choice over your floor covering (sorry renters), then Christine recommends not going for full carpet. "I really emphasise being toxic- and fume ...

Youngstown Vindicator

Land of attractions, cities of design
Youngstown Vindicator
There are 80 museums here, enough to keep you busy for your entire stay. One appealing feature of Helsinki's location is that there are ferry connections to Estonia, Sweden, and St. Petersburg, Russia. Visitors often plan a one- or two-day excursion ...


WorkOne job fair concentrates on manufacturing sector
While her specialty is interior decorating, she was looking to find the right fit Thursday. "I have worked in manufacturing a lot," she said. "I would like to get into a job where I can use my skills." There were 350 manufacturing openings available ...


Home Improvement 3 Plus You Themed Week - ...
From home inspections to interior decorating tips, this week 3 Plus You will feature the advice and expertise of professionals in the area who can help you with many of your home improvement needs.

and more »

Well, Here's a Somewhat Baffling Apartment Therapy Piece About a Large Family That Lives in a Chic Little School Bus
Slate Magazine
Most interior-decorating coverage takes as its premise the notion that the reader would enjoy living in the featured home, or at least enjoy daydreaming about it. There's an altogether different kind of pleasure that comes from paging or clicking ...

Pattie R. Hummel
She loved music, art, bookmaking, and interior decorating. Her talent amazed all who knew her. Pattie Hummel was a successful businesswoman. In addition to her successful photography business that spanned 30 years, Pattie also owned and managed a ...

The Oakland Press

There are far more major scandals brewing. So why is a $31000 dining set in the news?
The Oakland Press
In the past 24 hours, the public has learned a surprising amount about the interior decorating operations of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, led by Secretary Ben Carson. One would think that with the breaking news about Jared Kushner's ...
Ben Carson of HUD on His Vexing Reign: Brain Surgery Was Easier Than ThisNew York Times
Ben Carson's HUD Spends $31000 on Dining Set for His OfficeNew York Times
US official: I was demoted for rejecting Ben Carson's costly office revampThe Guardian
The Hill -CNN
all 104 news articles »

MyRepublica (satire) (press release) (blog)

My Republica - Décor decoded: Five decor mistakes that everyone ...
MyRepublica (satire) (press release) (blog)
No matter how many hours you spend scrolling through the internet to create a perfect design plan or rotating accessories throughout your house, interior decorating is always a bit tricky. And if that weren't enough of a challenge, there are some basic ...

and more »

Google News

home | site map | Nautical Decor
© 2006