There are people who can look at a stem and recognize the maker instantly. Me? I know probably 30 stems well enough to know the maker on sight, and maybe a couple hundred etches. I am by no means an expert but there are a few tricks I’ve learned. This post will walk us through a recent request where I was able to use resources to identify a pattern.
Crystal K posted this stemware on our Facebook page. It’s very pretty but I didn’t recognize it.
Given the number of pieces and obvious quality I thought Replacements might have this – I was pretty sure none of my books included the etch. Here’s my method:
- Is the stem itself unusual or distinctive enough to be a clue? In this case there is a small wafer right below the bowl, but it’s not particularly unique or even real noticeable. So, No to Question 1.
- Does the etch have any specific design motif? (Many etched patterns lack a strong design.) In this case, Yes.
- Use the design motif as a search term on Replacements.
Let’s walk through:
- The most obvious design motif is the big 5-petal flower on a plain background; it reminded me a little of Fostoria Vesper, an etch I like. However, this would be hard to describe and “floral” gets a zillion hits. So I put this idea aside.
- The next obvious motif is the wide etched band with clear circles. Hmm. This is unusual and should be mentioned in any pattern description, but I didn’t know how to describe it for a search. Wide band with circles? Solid etch with dots above, below and big circles? I put this idea aside too.
- I looked very carefully at the etch and noticed the leaves that circle the big flower. The leaves form a wreath like the victor’s wreath that Roman conquerors and Olympic winners received.
- Replacements has a search function where you can put in a design element, indicate whether the item is crystal, china or silverware. “Wreath” is a common design motif and one that Replacements usually includes in their pattern description. I put in “wreath” and checked “crystal”, then waded through pages of Christmas ornaments and cut crystal goblets (laurel wreaths are very popular motifs) until this one jumped out at me.
Unfortunately Replacements didn’t have a name or maker for the pattern either, and labeled it UNK2070. (All is not lost with an UNK pattern. Sometimes if you know their name you may luck out and find the glass elsewhere under their designation.) Incidentally, they described the design as “Floral Band & Wreath Design, Optic”.
The main takeaway here is to look at the design and find an element you can describe simply enough to use as a search term. “Wreath” returned 263 pattern hits in crystal, but that is a manageable number that you can scroll through pretty fast.
I’ll show more examples in upcoming posts.