How to Identify American Brilliant Period Cut Glass

By Toni Grundstom

The American Brilliant Period Cut Glass era began in 1876 and went through 1917. New patterns were created by European immigrants and the glass was in high demand. During the decline of the era, from 1908 through 1915, some of the most elegant patterns were created such as the crystal cut. Identifying cut glass from this period can be done by looking for seven characteristics.

Step 1

Look for the blank quality. Blanks are the pieces of glass that have not been cut. High quality blanks have a water-white clarity with few bubbles or carbon flecks. They are thick and heavy and do not show white powder after being stored.

Step 2

Check the cutting quality. Old blanks were cut with stone or a carborundum wheel. The cut lines are deep, major cuts that form disconnected line segments which are not perfectly parallel.

Step 3

Place the cut glass in a dark room with a fluorescent black light. An estimated 90 to 95 percent of American Brilliant pieces fluoresce a lime green when they are exposed to a fluorescent black light in a dark room.

Step 4

Look for a signature. Although some manufacturers did not sign their pieces of glass, some cut glass pieces produced before 1895 have a clear and crisp acid-marked signature . Others have paper labels indicating the manufacturer of the cut glass piece. Genuine signed pieces of American Brilliance Glass were produced in the late 1800s through 1916.

Step 5

Look for wear marks such as scratches or nicks on the bottom and inside face of the cut-glass piece. If there are no wear marks the piece will likely be made later than, and is an imitation of, the American Brilliance Glass Era. If the piece is signed these scratches will go through old acid-mark signatures.

Step 6

Determine the piece's provenance, if possible. According to the American Cut Glass Association some American Brilliant Period cut pieces have a provenance, a place or source of origin. This would apply to pieces handed down from generation to generation that have become antiques and collectibles. These are pieces whose history can be traced reliably to show they are truly from this period. However, most do not come with a provenance.

Step 7

Look for trademarks. There were 12 major manufacturers of fine cut glass in America: J.D. Bergen, T. B. Clark, L. Hinsberger, J.Hoare, H.C. Fry, T. G. Hawkes, Meridian Cut Glass, C. F. Monroe, Mount Washington Glass, The Pairpoint Corporation, F. X. Parsche & Son and Pitkin & Brooks. Each has a trademark that can be found on the American Cut Glass Association website.

About the Author

Toni Grundstrom has been a freelance writer since 1985 and in the marketing field since 1994. Her published material can be found in print for "The Community Courier," and online as an expert writer for,, and Article Grundstrom holds a Bachelor of Arts in marketing and public relations from Metropolitan State University.