Early American Pattern Glass – What you Need to Know
Early American Pattern Glass (or EAPG for short) is clear or colored glass that is pressed into beautifully intricate pieces like cups, cake stands, and teacups. It is also referred to as pattern glass, pressed glass, or Victorian Glass, and was made from 1850 until about 1914. It is a favorite of collectors and is popular at estate sales in Gig Harbor, Tacoma, and Seattle.
We are going to share some of our knowledge of EAPG, but we must tip our hats to the Early American Pattern Glass Society. If you’re looking to collect, or have inherited pieces, check out their site. They have an extensive database with a comprehensive list of patterns that allows you to browse by maker, motif, or shape.
The History Of EAPG
In the 1820s, machines for pressing glass were invented, but in the late 1860s, the technology was improved so that manufacturers could mass-produce matching pieces, helping to make matching sets of glassware popular.
EAPG was much cheaper to make than hand-cut crystal and was an accessible alternative for working-class men and women.
Most patterns started with a goblet, and then went on to include a bread plate. As the popularity of EPAG continued full sets of glassware, all in the same pattern, were a must for homemakers. To meet demand, companies then went on to include many different pieces like sugar bowls, butter dishes, fruit bowls, and celery vases.
In Collector’s Weekly, Elaine Henderson (an avid EAPG collector) states, “If there’s more than a table set in a pattern it will have a celery vase. This is weird because we’re talking about the 1850s through the turn of the century and it was poor people’s glass and poor people couldn’t afford celery. Nobody can figure out why almost every pattern with more than a table set has a celery vase.” It’s an interesting point, and one of the fun mysteries that come with collecting antiques.
Who Were the Manufacturers?
There were hundreds of manufacturers of EAPG, including early birds such as the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company, Cape Cod Glass Company, and New England Glass Company. Some of the best known were Bryce Brothers, McKee & Brothers, US Glass Company, Fostoria, and A. H. Heisey. Heisey was one of the best, producing some of the most high-quality pieces. (Collector’s Weekly)
Do you have the Real Deal?
It does take a bit of practice to know if you have an original piece. For example, the weight of an authentic piece will feel lighter than an original, and the glass will feel dry.
This can be a bit tricky if you’re a beginner, so we recommend you consult a reputable seller or hop online. Many expert collectors readily share their knowledge online.
Where do I start?
This is such a great question! Of course, we have our preferences, but we recommend you start by researching patterns you might like and then try to find a matching set of glassware. From there, you can add sugar bowls, and creamers. Estate sales are a great place to start, as many people have collected EAPG through the years.
Sites like eBay and Etsy are also a good start, especially if you’re looking for a specific pattern. But be sure to do your research on the seller beforehand, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. From our experience, legitimate and serious sellers are more than happy to answer your questions and will even teach you a little bit. If sellers are vague or non-responsive, you should keep searching.
If you’re looking to find your next treasure, be sure to check out our upcoming estate sales. You never know what you might find!