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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.
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 theTrellis 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.
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.
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.
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?
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
Cut designs tend to use a lot of straight lines
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
Etched line will be the same depth. Different motifs within an etched pattern could be different depths.
Cut patterns can be gray cut, left unpolished, or fire polished to make them shiny. Etched designs are not fire polished
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.
Colored cut-to-clear is used for cut glass. I have not seen etched to clear.
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.
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.)
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.
We Wrap Carefully So Your Treasure Reaches You Safely
Top 10 reasons our packages make it to you safely:
10. We have over 10 years of experience shipping glass and china all over the world.
9. We have shipped over 3500 packages of glass without breakage! Since 1999 we have had four packages with broken glass or china.
8. We protect each piece with bubble wrap.
7. We put cardboard or bubblewrap between each plate or cup or stem.
6. Once we have each piece carefully wrapped we put corrugated cardboard around the pieces. We buy this in large rolls and it acts as a second box.
5. We use plenty of foam peanuts or shred around each piece.
4. We use boxes large enough to hold the glass. We don't skimp!
3. We copy your name and address into the mailing label and tape it securely to the box. We use priority mail with insurance purchased from Shipsurance or UPS with full insurance and we stamp each box Fragile.
2. Does this mean we will never have a broken piece? Unfortunately we cannot guarantee that! What we can guarantee is that if you hold the broken pieces and packaging material and help us with the insurance claim we will give you your full money back. You have to agree, with 4 damage claims in over 3500 packages, your odds are good!
1. We take care with our packing because we know how important this is to you!
Shirlett had this to say: "The glasses arrived yesterday, a day later than the UPS e-mail had said, and my heart sank when I saw the box with one top-end smashed in. Looking closer I could see the box had been re-taped heavily and moisture was trapped under the clear tape covering the entire top and sides. It did not rain in our neighborhood yesterday so I took some pictures of the box before I began opening it. The top-end of the box was so soaked even the packing paper inside was wet, as were your business cards making them illegible from the bleeding ink.
However, due to the excellent packing around each goblet all nine are unharmed and beautiful!!"
Here is a video showing our packing methods.
Accurate Descriptions Avoid Disappointment
Yes, I've bought glass and later found chips and cracks. How disappointing! Those pesky nicks and rough spots like to lurk undetected.
Here are two videos showing how we check glass for damage so you get glass that is as described.
How to Check Glass for Damage
How to Check Glass for Damage Part 2
My pledge to you is that your glass will reach you as described. We inspect each piece multiple times:
When we buy it
When we wash it
When we photograph it
When we list it
When we wrap it to go to you
If we find a problem when we wrap for shipping we will let you know immediately and give you the option to cancel your purchase or receive a discount.
Despite our best efforts, if you get glass or china from us that has undisclosed damage, please contact us. We will refund your entire price, including shipping back to us, if the item is not as described.
Are there any limits to our guarantee?
Well, yes. We know our customers are honorable people and we do ask that you:
Contact us first.
Return in good condition wrapped as we wrapped it to go to you
We will refund on receipt.
If the piece is described accurately, but you don't like it, or the color or size or design isn't quite what you expected, then we will happily refund your original cost when we get the item back in good condition, but you will be responsible for shipping the piece back to us.
We limit the guarantee on glass sold with damage. The description will note that any refund is your original cost only, with shipping not being refunded.
And if by some mischance your box gets smashed or lost then please work with us to get the shipping insurance refund.
We want you to buy the glass you want and receive the glass you ordered, intact and as described.