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 Vintage Elegant Depression Glass

Vintage Elegant Depression Glass

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Cut or Etched?

Have you ever wondered whether your glass is cut or etched?  Sometimes it is hard to tell.  And lots of glass for sale online with flower designs is listed as etched when it is really cut.

Cut Glass


A cut glass pattern like the miter design on this stem is easy.  The lines are straight and V shaped.

Here's a design that is a little harder to tell.  This is Trellis from Fostoria, a simple cut with stylized half flowers.  


Fostoria Trellis (Old) Cut Sherbet


What lets us know these are cut is the V shape on the cuts.  The miter cut stem has deep V shapes where the center of the cut is deeper than the edges.  The flower petals on the Trellis stem are slightly scooped.

 

One thing that causes confusion with cut patterns like Trellis is that the cuts were left unpolished.  See how the miter cut cocktail is shiny?  The artisans fire polished the design after it was cut.  That makes the cuts smooth and shiny.  Unpolished designs like Trellis or Cynthia are called "gray cuttings".


Fostoria Holly combines gray and polished cuts.  That must have been more time consuming to make.  This candle holder is pretty neat, from Fostoria's Sonata line.


Fostoria Holly Duo Candle Holder

Fostoria Holly Duo Candle Holder


 

Another technique is called "cut to clear" as in this Egermann ruby cut to clear vase.  I got this at an estate sale where the people had massive collections of fine crystal and china from America and Europe.


Egermann Ruby Cut to Clear Vase

Egermann Ruby Cut to Clear Vase

 

Etched Designs


Although some cut patterns are elaborate, most often designs with a lot of intricate detail are etched.  This Fostoria Navarre sherbet shows how complex an etched design can be.  It would be nearly impossible to get the curves and thin lines with a cutting wheel.


Fostoria Navarre Etched Sherbet

 

Making etched glass is like stenciling a wall.  Glass makers coat the surface with wax, then cut through the wax with a thin stylus.  The etching solution will dissolve wherever the glass surface is not covered with wax.  The result is the design has uniform depth.


It is possible to get multiple depths by uncovering more surface and applying the etching solution again.  But even with that method the individual line will be the same depth at the edge as at the center.


The Fostoria Navarre stem is one of the more fancier designs.  Here is a Fostoria Lido goblet.  Is it cut or etched?


Fostoria Lido Etched Goblet

Fostoria Lido Etched Goblet


Lido is simple enough that it could be cut so we need to touch it to find out.  The individual lines are all the same depth, so this is etched.

 

Have you noticed that all the etched designs are gray, not fire polished?  That's because the etched lines are thin.  Fire polishing always softens the edges just a bit, and if the artisans polished the etch it would lose detail.  You can imagine how that would ruin a delicate design.

 

Tips to Tell Cut from Etched


  1. Cut designs tend to use a lot of straight lines
  2. Cuts will be V shaped, with the edges shallower than the centers.  Some cut designs rely on many thin, parallel cut lines to fill in the flower or leaf shape
  3. Etched line will be the same depth.  Different motifs within an etched pattern could be different depths.
  4. Cut patterns can be gray cut, left unpolished, or fire polished to make them shiny.  Etched designs are not fire polished
  5. Intricate patterns with a lot of detail are almost always etched.  Cut designs can be complicated but don't look like they were drawn the way etched designs do.
  6. Colored cut-to-clear is used for cut glass.  I have not seen etched to clear. 
  7. Last but not least, just because someone calls a piece "etched" or "cut" use your judgment to decide how the design was made.
Tip! Measure Goblets

Tip:  How to Measure Stemware


If you want a set of vintage stemware it's important you know how to measure stems and are aware of size changes over the past 50 years.


Originally wine goblets were small, much smaller than we use today, especially in restaurants or contemporary, trendy glass.  Wine goblets in patterns from the vintage glass companies usually held two to five ounces.  


Fostoria June Wine Goblet

Fostoria June Topaz Wine Goblet


This Fostoria June goblet, from the 1930s, is 5 1/2 inches tall and holds three ounces filled right to the brim.  That's more the size we see today for cordials or after dinner drinks.


To measure stems, put the goblet on a flat table.  Take a stiff ruler and measure vertically to the top of the rim.  That's the height.  Don't measure sideways from the foot to the rim.


The other key measurement is capacity.  Vintage stemware, pitchers, creamers and such always give capacity measured by filling it right to the point of overflowing.


I find it is easiest to take my stem t the cupboard by the sink.  I use a one ounce measuring cup and fill the measuring cup right to the brim and pour into the goblet.  Then repeat until the goblet will not hold any more.  (The hard part is keeping count and not losing track, but maybe you won't have that problem.)


Cambridge Rosalie Etched Water Goblet

Cambridge Glass Rosalie Etched Crystal Water Goblet


The reason you want to measure full to the brim is that flared pieces, like goblets, will often take a surprising volume from the point where you would fill for use and when filled to the brim.  It's too subjective to measure filled the way you would use it.


 


I have tried filling a stem with water and pouring into a measuring cup.  This doesn't work for me at all as half the water ends up in the sink.


If you don't have a one ounce measuring cup, then use a regular liquid measurin cup to fill it most of the way, then use a tablespoon to fill the remainder.  Remember a tablespoon is half an ounce.


Water goblets, like the Cambridge Rosalie shown above, are usually between 6 and 10 inches tall and hold somewhere around 10 ounces.


The other thing to be aware of is shape.  Wine and water goblets look like goblets.  The goblet bowl may be rounded but most often the bowl is taller than it is wide.


You might see sherbets mistakenly called wine goblets.  Sherbets look like saucer champagnes or else have V shaped bowls like this Cambridge Chantilly tall sherbet.



Cambridge Chantilly Sherbet

Cambridge Chantilly Sherbet


I hope this helps you get the stemware you want!

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