We’ve been doing a blog series introducing depression glass and elegant glass and showing the major differences. Quick refresher for us:
- Depression glass was mass produced during the 1930s, we usually mean American glass.
- Manufacturers made depression glass patterns in sets, such as dinnerware or luncheon sets. Often they included accessory pieces like candy dishes or candle holders.
- Depression glass required no hand-made steps and often had small flaws like bubble or protruding seams.
- Elegant glass was good glass, think higher end crystal.
- Elegant glass makers also produced full lines into dinnerware and luncheon sets. They almost always included full stemware lines and accessory pieces too.
- Elegant glass required several steps by skilled artisans, making it more expensive to produce and also more finished and better quality.
- Very often elegant glass plates or bowls have ground base rims, which were done by hand. If you spot a piece with a ground base rim it is almost certainly elegant glass.
Another very big difference was decorating technique. If you look closely at the Doric and Pansy bowl above you can see the design is relief molded. The pansy flowers are raised above the surface of the bowl. Jeannette Glass, the maker, used molds that had the design etched into them, thus the mold could be used over and over again to produce the pretty pattern. This is called “mold etched” and many of the patterns from the first half of the 1930s used this technique.
The Lorna center handled server is etched. It is hard to show in a photo, but if you feel the pattern you can tell that it is cut into the surface. Companies etched glass by allowing acid to eat into the glass, using stencils and wax to get the lacy, fancy designs. That took a lot of hand work to place the stencil just so and companies decorated the pieces individually. The basic shape was pressed, then the designs were etched one by one.
Other types of decoration are not quite so definitive.
In general metal-trimmed pieces are more likely to be elegant glass. But some depression glass companies made certain patterns with metal trims or painted designs. This Diana depression glass demitasse set from Federal Glass has platinum on the rim.
Most often cut glass from the 1930s is elegant glass but you can find a few pieces of depression glass that were cut too. Usually the cut designs are simple, as the glass could not withstand extensive cutting. Christopher L posted this Old Cafe candy dish with a cut flower spray. I have had these in stock before and they are quite nice pieces, a little fancier than the usual Old Cafe.
Past posts in the series:
I hope you find this series interesting and helpful. Please drop me a note or leave a comment and let me know what you think.