Since 2005, those of us who sell art glass have been struggling with an ever decreasing interest in our merchandise. Much to our delight, the past few years have seen a growing appreciation for fine glassware, but know this – it is not all glassware. Clear glass and crystal are still not finding an audience, neither is the Elegant Era cut glass from the early part of the 20th Century. Even Fenton’s hand painted baskets and vases didn’t make the cut. What today’s buyers want are the vibrant colors and whimsical shapes of the MCM era.
As prices are going no here but up, this is the time to grab a deal when you see one. True bargains are growing scarce, but for the savvy collector they do still surface at resale shops and garage sales. Before you shop, here are a few names and styles to commit to memory.
With the renewed interest in fashion and decor from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, Belenko is once again at the top of the “must have” list. From their chunky refrigerator jugs and tiny little crackle-glass pitchers to their elegant glass bottles, Blenko is definitely a favorite with the 30 somethings who are decorating their homes with cluster of this beautiful mid-century glass. Of special interest are the 1950’s decanters and vertical works from Wayne Husted and the mid-late 1960’s whimsical pieces designed by Joel Phillip Myers.
If you are a novice collector it is important to note the that there are many “look alike” pieces on the market. The Blenko National Collectors page has a wealth of information on authentic Blenko including a wonderful link that allows you to test your knowledge of reproductions and fakes. The company reorganized in 2013 and they are reissuing many of their classic designs from the 1950s and ‘60s. While fine quality, these “new” pieces are of little interest to serious collectors who watch for the classic shapes and vibrant colors produced from 1947-1976.
Mid-Century swung vases were made by pressing the glass into a mold and then reheating it and “swinging” it in a circular motion to elongate the neck. You will find these with both flared and ruffled edges from the L.E. Smith Glass Company. Currently, collectors are watching for their swung slag-glass vases in the Bittersweet Orange diamond pattern. More difficult to find, and a bit more pricey, will be swung glass from Pilgrim, Tiffin and Fostoria
Viking Glass of Martinsville, West Virginia was one of the most prolific of all the MCM glass manufacturers, and as such their stretch glass and flame glass pieces are found in most of the major antique malls. In 1951, they introduced color to their line of clear glass with evergreen, amber, ebony, ruby red and both medium and cobalt blue. Over the next dozen or so years they would build their color selection to 30 choices before cutting that number back to seven in 1964. Acquainting yourself with the color issues for each year will help you to date your pieces. Their most successful mid-century line, the Viking Epic Line produced from 1956-1975, is a favorite with collectors. If you find a piece at a good price, this is the time to buy.
Many piece of MCM art glass were marked with a paper tag. Manufacturers intentionally place these adhered tags in obvious places prompting the buyer to immediately remove them after purchase. To understand the patterns and designs from the top glass-works of the era I would highly recommend www.retroartglass.com where you will find hundreds of pieces of authentic Mid-20th Century art glass. It’s a great place to learn, and while you are there you can shop!
Until next time, Linda