This book, Stemware Identification, Featuring–Cordials with Values, 1920s-1960s, by Gene Florence, shows page after page of small stems to help us identify our glass. Gene Florence collected cordials and used his collection as the basis for this identification guide.
This cordial identification guide is laid out a little differently than most glass books. Florence sorts his stems by color, then by company name and pattern within the color. He explains in the “How to Use This Book” section that he felt most of us wouldn’t need a book if we knew the maker, but we can all pick out the color.
Regardless, the result is visually stunning with nine cordials per page and 151 pages! It’s fun to see the colors and variations.
The photos are excellent and very helpful to identify the stem line, that is the basic shape of the stem. The photos of etched or cut patterns vary. Some etch photos are clear enough that you can spot the pattern while others are harder to see the detail.
But what you can do – and I’ve done this more than a few times – is use the overall placement of the etch on the stem to get a sense of what your stem might be. For example, Fostoria Mystic has lots of pattern near the base and a flower that reaches up into the clear part of the bowl. Even if you cannot make out the details of that flower you get a very good idea what the pattern will look like from a distance. Use this sense of pattern shape when you’re at a sale or when browsing an estate sale advertisement online. It’s amazing how quickly your sense of shape will see a shape in the etched patterns too.
Florence gives a price but as he notes, price guides are notoriously inaccurate. Pricing varies so much, over time, even regionally. However, normally glass prices retain some overall relative sense, so a pricey pattern today is likely to be pricey tomorrow, even if the overall market goes up or down.
In the back Florence includes comparisons of full stem lines, for example, every stem in the Fostoria Vesper amber glass. He does this for a pattern from Tiffin and Fostoria and two Cambridge patterns, including side-by-side photos and piece heights. Seeing the shapes is helpful.
This is one of the first stemware identification guides I bought and I still use it. There are a couple downsides:
- It shows only cordials, not goblets or sherbets. Normally a cordial looks like the goblet but smaller, so this isn’t so bad.
- It doesn’t give dimensions. That means you need to look elsewhere if you want to be sure you have the parfait and not the iced tea.
- I tend to use other books for etched pieces.
Overall I recommend this book, Stemware Identification, Featuring–Cordials with Values, 1920s-1960s, and suggest it for glass lovers who enjoy buying pieces from many patterns, or those, like me, who seek unusual stemware.