Raise your glass to toast the Bride and Groom

By Reyne Haines

While many of you are taking summer vacations with your children this June, others are planning an event of a lifetime; they’re wedding. 

June is the most recognized month for weddings.  Many businesses are involved in making this special event happen.  Wedding planners, jewelers, travel agents, florists, caterers and bridal wear shops, just to name a few.

The June wedding tradition started long ago in Britain.  Royal occasions such as the Ascot race also meant the “coming out” of the most desirable young ladies from the wealthiest of families.  The ladies were “presented” at Court to be courted by the most eligible, single men.   The courtship would end in marriage in June of the following year.

This custom has been borrowed around the world, and understandably so in locations where the winter months bear freezing temperatures and snow.  Who would want to get married then?

What to get the bride and groom is the top question asked by wedding attendants and family members.  Since the turn of the century, department stores have found a way for the bride and groom to assist guests with their buying decisions.  Bridal Registries were created to help ensure the new couple would get what they needed for their new home, and help to cut down on returns and duplicates. 

During the Depression era into the 1950s, “Elegant” depression glass was sold in department and jewelry stores.  It was considered the dinnerware of choice for brides to be.  Today the term “Depression Glass” is commonly used in households, antique columns and  at the Antiques Roadshow.  Your mother might remember her mother serving Thanksgiving dinner on it.  Elegant glassware is similar to Depression glass, plus a bit more.  The term “Depression glass” usually applies to dime store and give-away glass from the depression era.  Elegant glassware differs in a few ways.  First, it was sold rather than given away.  It was also hand-finished.  The color of choice was mainly crystal, which went better with fine china as opposed to the very colorful and mass-produced Depression glass.

There were also fewer firms producing Elegant glassware.  It took more time to produce as it often required fire polishing to remove mold marks, occasionally grinding of the base to make pieces sit flat and then wheel cutting or acid etching a pattern into the glass for that extra touch.  None of these traits are found in Depression glass.

The number of pieces available in most Elegant glassware far exceed those in a Depression glass pattern.  Elegant patterns offered more serving pieces, and variety of stemware to include water goblets, oyster cocktails, wine glasses, champagnes, ice teas, and sherbets.  Serving pieces often included individual salts and icer bowls, several size pitchers, covered cheese dishes and footed individual cheese plates, a multitude of serving type bowls and platters.  Decorative items might include a wide range of flower vases, ashtrays and boxes.  Candlewick, a favorite pattern among Elegant glass collectors, offers over 365 different pieces including some unusual items such as a clock, hurricane lamps and a mirror.

Elegant glassware was produced over a long period of time. Because of this, it’s possible to take grandma’s family crystal pattern and find additional pieces, rather than buying a contemporary crystal pattern for new bride and groom.  The monetary value of these pieces, not to mention the sentimental value, will no doubt continue to increase in a collector’s lifetime, unlike that of new glass.

Not long ago, consumer interest in collecting leaned more towards colored Depression glass. Over the last few years we have seen an increasing request for Elegant glass at shows and online.  The nostalgia of these pieces along with their beauty is what charms collectors and dealers alike. 

As mentioned before, there were only a few companies that produced Elegant glass due to costs and time to produce.  The main firms were Cambridge Glass Company, Central Glass Works, Consolidated Lamp & Glass Company, Duncan & Miller Glass Company, Fostoria Glass Company, Heisey Glass Company, Imperial Glass Company, Morgantown Glass Works, New Martinsville Glass Company, Paden City Glass Company, Tiffin Glass Company and U.S. Glass Company.

Listed below are the top 5 requested patterns and the companies that made them:

Cambridge Glass Company “Rosepoint” – A lovely rose floral pattern produced from 1936 – 1953.  The colors it was produced in was crystal and some crystal with gold trim. This pattern comes with over 105 pieces

Imperial Glass Company “Candlewick” – Produced from 1936-1984. Made mostly in crystal but also came in blue, pink, yellow, black, red, cobalt blue, green and carmel slag.   This pattern has been reproduced. 

Fostoria Glass Company “June” – Flowing Bows and flowers make up this pattern, and what a perfect name for a bridal pattern.  June was made from 1928-1944 in crystal, azure blue, topaz yellow and rose pink.

Another great pattern by Fostoria is “Romance”.  Produced in 1942 to 1986.  It is often mis-identified as June because they both have bows.  It was produced only in crystal. The charm of this pattern comes strongly from the name.

A.H. Heisey & Co.  “Rose” – Floral patterns do seem to sell well with Elegant glass collectors.  Produced from 1949-1957 in crystal only.  This pattern is an etched rose used on another Heisey pattern “Waverly” blank.   

Learning about Elegant Glass

There are no lack of reference publications for sale to help you determine what pattern might interest you, when it was made, by whom and what you should pay for each piece.  You can find these publications online or at your favorite local bookstore. Some of the most resourceful ones are:

Elegant Glassware of the Depression Era by Gene Florence.  Hardcover, over 230 pages showing color illustrations of A-Z Elegant Glass Patterns with price guide.  Cover price $19.95.  Florence is the nationally recognize expert in Elegant Glass and Depression Glassware.

Fostoria: Identification and Value Guide to Etched, Carved & Cut Designs by Ann Kerr. Cover price $24.95. 

Heisey Glass 1896 – 1957: Identification and Value Guide by Tom Bredehoft – 288 pages, Hardcover. Cover Price $24.95

Elegant Glass: Early, Depression & Beyond by Debbie and Randy Coe.  Cover Price $29.95

The information provided in these reference guides is extensive.  You can learn who made your families pattern, and during what time frame.  Also included are the sizes and shapes of each pattern, and their average market value at the time of publication.  There are only a few patterns of Elegant glass that have been “reproduced”.  Most of these books discuss the newer pieces and how to spot them. 

Sources and Resources

Now that you know what you want to collect, where can you find it?  Below are just a few sites and shows that can help you in your collecting adventures.

Christine Nagy – A fine array of Elegant and Depression Glass -- http://flamingo123.rubylane.com

Just Glass – Over 3000 Elegant glass items for sale daily -- http://www.justglass.com

The Glass Cupboard – Elegant glass and Depression Glass -- http://www.tias.com/stores/cupboard

Old Parsonage Antiques – Elegant and Depression Glass -- http://www.oldparsonage.com

Sparkle Plenty Antiques – Elegant glass and Fire—King -- http://www.fire-king.net