Cut glass classified as antique was made from the mid 1600's to the early 1900's. It started off being blown by hand or into a mold to make what is called a blank onto which a pattern was drawn then etched into the glass with a grinding wheel. The newly cut glass was polished to make it sparkle like a thousand prisms. Cut glass was made in several countries including Czechoslovakia, Germany and England, and the most popular was made in America.
Bohemian Cut Glass
Bohemian cut glass is also known as Czech glass. It originally was considered a form of engraving done in Prague in the 1600s and was unpolished in the early days. Glass was carved by a large revolving stone with water running over the piece. The resulting cuts were ground down with sandstone, and then the piece was polished with wood disks also fed with water. Some Bohemian cut glass is colored or painted. It comes in the shape of vases, jars, bowls and perfume bottles, to name a few.
German Cut Glass
German cut glass was made like the Bohemian type. In 1680 modern style sparkling cut glass was produced in Nuremberg. Individual cuts were polished to make them look less engraved and more cut into the glass. German glass was very hard to cut and was often called carved glass. Decanters, cologne bottles, goblets, vases and steins with cut glass lids were very popular.
English Cut Glass
Glassmakers in England and Ireland began making cut glass in the late 1600's and early 1700's. Most objects produced were flat, including plates and shallow bowls, unlike the European glass that had a convex shape. Clear glass was most often used, although some was painted. Motifs for the glass were often family coats of arms. The British used flint glass or lead crystal that had more luster than plain pressed glass, and it was much easier to cut. Coal furnaces were used instead of the wood-fired furnaces used by other glass makers and enabled the heat to be much higher. Goblets, glasses, bowls, vases and other vessels were examples of the more modern, highly polished cut glass.
American Cut Glass
There are two types of American cut glass. The earliest was made in the early 1800's in Pennsylvania. It was similar to English glass and was made into decanters, pitchers, vases, salt dishes, stemmed goblets, jars, dishes and more. There were many different patterns of geometric design including thistle, flute, lace and heart. American glass was clear at first because the colored type was considered to be gaudy, but later on color was added to some objects. In the 1900's brilliant cut glass came into being. Grinding wheels were electrified and cuts were deeper, more intricate and polished to a sheen. Glass was very heavy and had a very high lead content. The whole cut glass culture came to an end with World War I when manufacturing turned toward making utilitarian items and items for the war effort.
Deborah Harding has been writing for over nine years. Beginning with cooking and gardening magazines, Harding then produced a gardening and cooking newsletter and website called Prymethyme Herbs in 1998. Published books include "Kidstuff" and "Green Guide to Herb Gardening." She has a Bachelor of Music from Youngstown State University and sings professionally.