How to Identify Markings on the Bottom of Crystal Antiques

By Jean Bardot ; Updated April 12, 2017
Antique crystal stemware with etched pattern.

Collecting antiques can be a fulfilling hobby, providing great investment potential as well as possible financial rewards, if you ever decide to sell your collection. Crystal antiques come in every possible shape and size you can imagine -- from animal figurines to ashtrays, chandeliers, vases, bowls and dishes. Identifying the markings on crystal is relatively easy, if you know how to go about it.

Turn over your crystal antique so you can view the bottom. Make sure you have plenty of light.

Look for the mark, and make sure you can see it clearly. Check with a jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass, to enlarge the mark. If you still can't make it out, take a photo with a digital camera. Load the photo onto your computer, where it will be enlarged so you can see the mark more easily.

Look for the mark in books like "Glass of the World" by George Savage, made especially for people wanting to identify their crystal antiques. Many identification books show photos of similar items you can compare to your crystal piece. Other books such as "Miller's Antique Encyclopedia" by Judith Miller show the actual maker's marks, to help you identify yours.

Compare the maker's mark on your item to those in reference books. Also, compare the entire piece to those pictured for help with dating.

Look online at websites showing maker's marks and shop marks, to help with identification.

Contact local antique dealers and auctioneers specializing in crystal for help identifying, dating and valuing your item.

Things Needed

  • Jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass
  • Digital camera (optional)
  • Antique collector’s value and identification guides

Tip

If you purchase crystal antiques often, it’s a good idea to have several books on hand to help you identify them. Some antique items are very valuable, and without proper identification, you may miss financial gains if you sell them and don’t realize what you have.

Warning

Not all items are marked, and many marks are not identifiable. Many old marks were never recorded. The best way to identify a piece like this is by style, comparing it to photos of similar items from the same period and country, if possible.

About the Author

Jean Bardot is a freelance writer and natural health practitioner. She started writing in 1994 and has contributed articles to publications such as "Similimum" and the "IFH Journal." She has a Bachelor of Science in public health from the University of North Carolina and a Master of Science in holistic nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health.