Saturday 13 July 2019

Buying and collecting 20th century glass for investment !

   Hello and welcome to my antiques , vintage and collectables blog , This week i thought i would write an article regarding a specific area of the antiques and vintage that i believe could be an interesting area for young and seasoned collectors to invest in as i feel the market for good quality mid 20th century art glass is generally quite low and could steadily increase over the long term.

  Antiques and collectables are generally on a downward turn at present due to fashions dictating trends and younger buyers entering the market looking for furnishings to fit into these fashionably modern less cluttered homes , This is why i feel that stylish 20th century glass could still hold it's own in today's ever changing antiques collectable and furnishing market .

  I have compiled this small article to give you all an idea the high quality well designed pieces of mid century glassware that are available today which could in time significantly increase in value over the medium to long term.


  Murano is a small island off Italy which has a rich history in producing very stylish high quality colourful glass with fluid forms , sometimes these pieces can be signed and these pieces are well worth looking out for ,  Typically an unsigned piece of Murano glass can be easily found on Ebay , garage sales and car boot sales , auctions etc and can cost between £20 and £80 typically , Quality is one big factor when collecting any type of glass and something i will get onto later in the article.


Lalique is a very popular and famous French high quality glass ware , usually clear or opalescent in shade with Art Deco themes with birds , ladies etc ,  Pieces are normally signed to bases or sides and can bare either of two signatures , the earlier pieces are normally etched signed R.Lalique after the founder of the company Rene and pieces with this signature are very sought after and quite valuable already but later piece with just a Lalique mark missing the ''R'' can be bought for a far more reasonable price and the quality of those pieces make them surely a good investment for the future.


Holmegaard is a slightly lesser known Scandinavian mid century glass ware with a very simple stylish well designed form , usually signed these Scandinavian glass pieces are usually easy to identify and offer a very reasonable price level for nice quality pieces , The mid century 1960's 70's design was well ahead of it's time and would not look out of place in a modern Ikea setting but will surely offer good value for money as an investment due to it's quality and timeless style.


 Chribska is a Czech hand blown mid century glass , lesser known and can be very good value for money as most pieces were only marked with a paper label and after 50-60 years most labels have been removed or lost .  Very colourful and organic in form these pieces are highly decorative and can be purchased between £20-£40 , Many people mistake these pieces for the Italian Murano glass at antique fair , flea markets , Ebay etc and for the beginner they are quite hard to tell apart , quite heavy in weight and well finished Chribska glass is an ideal entry level collectable and offers a very decorative look for the modern home.


 Last but my no means least i want to show you some British Whitefriars glass , Whitefriars glass is a very Iconic high quality British hand made glass from the mid 20th century ,  If you Google 20th century glass you will be sure to see plenty of pieces for you to view to get a feel for the excellent modern design well ahead of it's time of some of there pieces especially pieces like the Banjo vase above which was designed by the highly sought after designer Geoffrey Baxter .  Pieces by Baxter can run into Hundreds if not thousands of pounds / Dollars and are really the height of 20th century British glass making ,  There are however many other Whitefriars designs on the market with a great collectors base which are very reasonable in price and well worth collecting for future investment due to they're quality and timeless style.

  Many pieces are not marked and there are fakes on the marked which i will get onto later in the article but when you handle a genuine piece you will soon be able to tell the difference .  Here below is a picture of another famous Baxter piece , the ''drunken bricklayer'' vase very iconic and hard to find but like the orange Banjo vase above it would form the pinnacle of a 20th century glass collectors inventory .

Attributes to look out for when buying 20th century glass for investment !

   There are a few specific attributes to look out for when buying in vintage art glass for investment and i want to go through a few for you to maybe use as a marker or checklist when deciding which pieces to purchase for your collection so here we go.

1. High quality examples - Always look for the highest quality example of a specific type of glass you can afford , I believe it's better to buy one high quality piece than ten mediocre pieces , you build a better more valuable collection that way.

2. Style - Look at the piece from a stylistic viewpoint , does it look aesthetically pleasing ? does the design look iconic and done by a top designer ? Sloppy badly designed pieces tend to be mass produced cheaply made items.

3. Look for fire polished pontil marks on the bases and fire polished rims , this is a sign of good workmanship and quality , fire polished means smooth and rounded edges to the rims and pontil scar underneath the vase on the base where the hand blown glass rod was snapped from the main body after finishing.

4. Signed pieces - Not always a sign of a valuable piece but this makes it easier to research and normally if an artist or designer is proud of his work he will want to sign it!.

5, Condition - Very important to buy pieces in excellent condition , damage can devalue a piece of glass and lose up to 90% of it's value , so check the glass very carefully for cracks and chips and signs of restoration like ground down edges.

6. Bright colours - The brighter coloured pieces tend to stand out more , be more iconic regarding the era they were made and therefore more desirable , for instance a bright orange piece can sell for considerable more that a clear glass piece of the same shape and design.


  I want to tell you all now a little about fake glass on the market , there are many valuable and collectable pieces of 20th century glass on the market and the area is gaining more interest all of the time ,  with this comes higher prices being achieved as time goes on ,  sadly this comes to the attention of fakers throughout the world and encourages them to produce items to deceive all levels of collectors from amateur to expert .  The best way to protect yourself against this pitfall is education ,  study as many genuine pieces as you can by visiting dealers shops , good auction houses and museums to try and get a feel both visually and by touch to the small details that differentiate genuine pieces from fakes like weight , smoothness and quality of the finish .  Also buy some good books on the subject , there are many good books with excellent pictures and info informing you what to look out for with both genuine and fake pieces ......Study is important !

Don't let this put you off , If you study and handle genuine pieces regularly then the common fakes become quite obvious.

Whitefriars glass is one of the more heavily fakes areas , here is a specific place to look out for when looking at a piece when one comes available for sale .

The top picture is of a genuine piece of Whitefriars glass , notice the very smooth polished pontil mark and the ripple lines on the base .

The bottom picture is a fake , notice the moulded looking pontil mark and the ground (sanded) looking base , mass produced looking if you compare with the original.

There are many other tell tale signs of modern mass produced fake 20th century glass and also pieces that are just made to look like the same style of glass but not meant to deceive like pieces sold as department stores so as i have mentioned before in this article experience and knowledge is key so get out there handle and touch as many pieces as you can and soon you will be able to start building a nice collection with a good investment value and start enjoying a great hobby in the process. 

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and it has some value to you , I will be adding regular blogs with fun and interesting vintage and antique themes in the future so please connect with me if you have any questions or even if there is anything you would like to see me write about that you may have an interest in!

Thanks for reading and see you soon.

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