How to Identify Bohemian Antiques

By Becky Lower
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Bohemian antique glass and crystal has been a tradition for more than 800 years. It was, and still is, made in what is now the Bohemian region of the Czech Republic. Early versions of the glass were called "forest glass" because of its green color and because of the predominance of woods in this area. Bohemian glass is considered by some to be the best in the world because of its beautiful jewel tones and brilliant cuts. A combination of a high lead count and the raw materials used to create the glass--potash and quartz sand--make Bohemian glass a highly prized addition to one's collection of antique cut glass. Modern-day Bohemian manufacturers still use the same designs that have been in production for hundreds of years, and there are no identifying marks to determine the age of a piece, so spotting a genuine antique is a bit difficult.

Check for purity. Strike a piece of glass with your fingernail. The richer the tone, the higher the lead content. Bohemian lead crystal has a high lead content, at 24 percent. In addition to tone, a high lead content leads to more light refraction once the glass is cut, creating more sparkle.

Check the color. Since the 1850s, Bohemian glass has been available in transparent pink, red, cobalt and light blue, amber and green, but the oldest of Bohemian glass was forest green, often embellished with a band of gold or an enamel border.

Examine the cuts made in the glass with a magnifying glass. Fine Bohemian glass resembles lace. The high lead content allows for exceptional execution of the cutting, but the cuts should not be completely uniform, since they were made by hand.

Look for signs of wear. Wear should be in random spots, and not uniform in nature. Look for wear in areas where your fingers naturally go around the glass, or where two sections come together. Use a magnifying glass to look at scratches. Scratches that are uniform in width or that are all running in the same direction were probably added to a new glass to mimic signs of wear.

About the Author

Becky Lower began writing professionally in 2004. Her work has appeared in "elan" magazine, a northern Virginia publication, "Good Old Days" magazine, the "BGSU Alumni" magazine and on the website thenovelette.com. Lower has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and English from Bowling Green State University.