How to Identify American Brilliant Cut Glass


March 05, 2022 1 Comment

How to Identify American Brilliant Cut Glass

Find our entire collection of American Brilliant Cut Glass. Video Translation: Hi this is Jennifer here with City Farmhouse Antiques and I am here to talk to you today a little bit about what American Brilliant cut glass is. This is a piece of American Brilliant cut glass and really special to me. This is actually a piece that belonged to my grandmother. This piece is not for sale and is a family heirloom that I will cherish forever. You can see the sharp edges on this piece. So sharp it could actually cut you. I just cleaned this antique piece before the video so it should really sparkle. You have to be super, super careful when cleaning these pieces or any piece of art glass or crystal and not be thinking about other things  and getting distracted. Not only are the edges sharp, but when you have soap on your hands your hands get really slippery. Look at the brilliance on this piece. When you are looking at a piece of cut glass these are the things to notice. These are all hand cut facets. When we talk about American Brilliant we are actually talking about a time period in the United States when cut glass was made. I chose to talk about American Brilliant glass today because we are coming up on the 100 year anniversary for American Brilliant cut glass. Antiques, glass, and collectibles of different kinds are always more valuable and sought after during a 50 year or 100 year anniversary. The American Brilliant period was really from about 1876 to World War I. This type of cut glass was made with a high lead content and that is what makes it so clear and beautiful. It was originally made in Europe back in the late 1800's or when migrants were coming to the United States. Glass factory's began to pop up in America and to become more competitive they would hire glass craftsmen from Europe who had apprenticeships. These apprenticeships would take anywhere from 6 to 8 years for someone to learn their skill. These men would come to the United States and began working for American factories.  Prior to this time period all high quality glass such as American Brilliant cut glass was all imported from Europe and not made in the United States. During this time only the wealthy could afford these pieces as they were expensive due to being imported. Once the United States started producing American Brilliant cut glass the price of these pieces came down, but could still only be afforded by the wealthy and used in places like the White House and very important establishments like government etc. About this same time, because most people couldn't afford glass at all, the making of pressed glass began which was made cheaply, mass produced, and affordable by many.  Americans began to get competitive with their cut glass and sent pieces back to Europe to participate in world fairs where they won ribbons and awards. This was when the American Brilliant period was at it's peak and pieces were very sought after. This period came to an end with the onset of World War I because the lead and coal were needed for the war. You can see the brilliance of this piece due to the high lead content. The lead content can be anywhere from 25% to 35%, Of course, the higher the lead content the clearer and heavier the piece will be. These will also be clues to help in identifying American Brilliant cut glass as they are going to be very heavy due to the lead content if you are looking at a high quality piece. These pieces will also be very thick when you look at the edge of a piece. These pieces are all hand cut so if you can imagine the hours that went into cutting this piece. The more patterns there are, and the more variety to the patterns, the more expensive the piece. The larger the piece is also another good indicator of value. Look at all the facets on this piece. A lot of people ask if these pieces are signed. There were a lot of pieces that were not signed. There are some pieces that are signed. If a piece is signed you will see an acid etched signature typically on the bottom or on an edge that is flat where you don't have any facets. Look how sharp these facets are and look there....there is a signature. I never realized this piece was signed. My grandmother's piece is signed. WOW! You can see it there. The trick to finding a signature is getting in really good light and you need to tilt the piece just like you saw me do because look how easily you can miss it. As you rotate that piece and you have to be very careful as you rotate it. I would never lay this piece down on an an edge as you will break the points. You have to be very careful and even put a towel underneath. I have a preference to take pieces outside where I can see everything better when looking for chips, cracks, or any blemishes. The sunlight will pick up on everything and make it much easier to see. Again, these pieces were made of lead with silica, or sand, and potash. You can see the refractory properties in each piece. Here is another gorgeous piece. This piece is up on our website and is beautiful. I found this at an antique shop and it is just gorgeous. Look at the sharp edges on this piece. This piece will also cut you. You can see all of the different facets and cuts in this piece. Again, American Brilliant is a time period. These are cut glass pieces which are very different than other glass like crystal. Cut glass of course is hand blown, put into molds and then hand cut. That is how these pieces were made. Again, we are really at that 100 year mark so everything increases in value and notoriety whether an antique, a piece of art glass, or collectible memorabilia. That's why I wanted to talk a little about American Brilliant cut glass today and what it is. How to identify it, and what to look for in a high quality piece. When I look at a piece like this it always makes me think of a bowl full of diamonds. Who wouldn't like to look at this all day? Be sure and check out all of our great pieces on our website at www.cityfarmhouseantiques.com where we have more than just antiques and be sure and sign up for our newsletter with our newest finds as well as our new arrivals of home and garden decor pieces. Hit the subscribe button on my video. Give me tips on what you would like to see next and have a wonderful week.



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March 25, 2022

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