Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

February 12, 2014

Glass: purchase or pass?

As a child, I loved to visit my Great Aunt’s Victorian home in North Vernon, Ind.

With its corbels, gables and fretwork, it seemed like a magical place to my five-year-old mind. While I loved every inch of it, my favorite part was the beautiful stained glass encased in the windows on the stairway that led to the top floor.

The top floor was off limits to my siblings and I, most likely because it was unsafe or used only for storage. But to me, that stairway with its beautiful red, green and amber glass windows led to a mystical forbidden land which I would one day explore.

I never got to see what was on the third floor of Great Aunt Mary’s home. The house and land were sold in the mid-50s and the new owner demolished the home, windows and all.

Fortunately windows, sidelights and transoms, which once met their demise with the force of the wrecking ball, have seen a wide-spread salvage effort since the last quarter of the 20th Century. These pieces are now highly sought by architects, interior designers and private collectors who are incorporating them into both older homes and new construction.

If you are in the market for antique stained glass, know that picking out usable pieces can be a little tricky. While the perfect window is out there, many have defects that may frighten off the novice shopper. So what constitutes an “easy fix” versus a “deal breaker”? Here a a few tips to guide you in the right direction.

With antique stained glass, as with fine antique furniture, there will often be small nicks or scratches that are indicative of a piece that is more than 100-years-old. These signs of wear are a part of the charm and patina of true antiquity and they do not devalue the piece. If you like them, buy them.

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