Friday, 21 January 2011

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

I have been waiting for an antique glass to be delivered to me for about 2 weeks now, and - finally having lost patience with Royal Mail and all their so-called 'contact' opportunities - I went to our local sorting office to see if it was sitting there, pining for me. It was. Royal Mail made no attempt to deliver it. I know this because the tracking slip was still attached to the packing, and they would have torn off one bar code and posted it through my door if they had really meant to deliver it.

So I took it home and unwrapped it. The first thing I noticed was that it was made from 'soda' rather than 'lead' glass - listen to the rings, and you will hear the difference. What had attracted me to it was the type of 'domed' foot - very unusual for a glass of this type - more common for an earlier glass - one made in the early rather than mid 18th century. Ironically, soda glass was a much more common material than lead for early glass. It is also the preferred material for cheap, Victorian or Edwardian copies too. I have had little gin glasses made from soda which I thought were almost brand-new, but they turned out to be from around 1700. Pretty much ALL of these types of glass, however, were made after a man called Ravenscroft developed 'English Lead Glass' in the late 17th century, so a soda one in this style (1750 body with a 1710 foot) is something to be feared. Apart from the sound of it, it also shows up as bright green under ultra violet light, but I need not have tested this one with that.

The domed foot would have been uncommon, that is, unless it was a crude copy of a 'tear-stem' glass (so named because of the bubble in the stem), that has been made between 1900 and 1920... which this glass was.

So I had my fears confirmed by a real expert tonight, and tomorrow, it will be making it's way back to the seller, who - thankfully - has already refunded me with the £110 I paid for it. She refunded me because of the late delivery. There is a heck of a lot to learn in this glass business, and I may not have the time left to learn it all.


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11 comments:

  1. I think I have found a fault with this camera (ARRRGH!) The violet line on the right hand side of the image is - I think - caused by the close proximity of the light source. Is this common?

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  2. I also apologise for my heavy breathing - I was trying to whisper, as Her Indoors had gone upstairs to bed, and I didn't want to alert her to my on-screen wanking by shouting to the camera. That's my excuse.

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  3. totally fascinating! I didn't notice any heavy breathing.

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  4. Interesting Tom. I will be pinging glasses from now on, although I think I have never come across anything as old as either of these glasses. But now I have been educated a little, I shall keep a look out.

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  5. Huh? http://jaxxvixx.blogspot.com/2011/01/hey-sista.html

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  6. I rather like the turkey too; thank goodness I don't have your collector's eye. How much should the turkey really cost?

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  7. Fascinating! (Funny hearing your voice too.) I'm so envious of your knowledge Tom.

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  8. Fascinating stuff ! anymore good tips ?

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  9. Well, that's my morning sorted - I'm going into the kitchen and dining room to ping my glasses!

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  10. My mate said he would pay no more than £40 for the turkey, and actually not even that.

    Envious of my knowledge, Sue? It was my lack of knowledge that made me buy the thing in the first place!

    You want more good tips about glass, Janet, or life in general?

    I'm off to see what it is that Jacqueline is trying to get me to look at.

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  11. P.S. I ought to add that soda glass is not always a bad thing. Also, the main characteristics of soda is the lightness, a dull ring, a green tint, and a generally cruder form (it's a lot harder when set than lead). Having said that, it is quite likely that you may come across a genuine, 18th century glass made from soda which is quite heavy, has a bright ring, and no green tint. Then you have to resort to ultra violet light!

    Thanks for the mention, Jacqueline. (snap!)

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