Engraved glass became highly popular in the 19th century, superseding cut glass. Before this date, glass had sometimes been engraved, but very much as surface decoration. It was the development of thickly walled glass which allowed the engraver free rein.
The classical forms which began to adorn glass showed the type of sophisticated intricacy that the talented engraver was able to achieve by the middle of the 19th century, and it was a completely new medium. The shapes and motifs were familiar, but never before had such superb quality been achieved.
England led the way, and the technique was soon taken up in Bohemia and France. Many skilled craftmen from Bohemia came to live in England, which is undoubtedly the reason why so many top quality pieces came to be made here. They worked in London for various retailers, decorating blanks supplied by the leading manufacturers such as Thomas Webb of Stourbridge. They also settled in Edinburgh, but, in common with many porcelain decorators, their talents were in great demand and they moved from place to place over a number of years.
Thomas Webb Rock Crystal Cut Glass Goblet. Signed Webb, but no apparent artist / engraver signature. Circa 1936-1949.
The practice of engraving on glass is a delicate one, requiring great steadiness and accuracy. In the 19th century, the piece was held in a treadle powered by a machine fitted with wheels that ranged in size from a pinhead to about 10cm (4in). The size of the copper wheel determined the intricacy of the finished pattern or scene. This method was known as wheel engraving. The other main types are diamond point and stipple engraving (both of which used a diamond needle or ‘nib’ to draw or tap out a pattern), and acid etching, which looks similar to wheel engraving, but produces a more even finish.
- The value of a piece is often dictated by the intricacy of the engraving and the overall balance of the composition.
- In the case of Bohemian pieces, size is important. Large pieces, often featuring stags in woodland settings can fetch several thousand pounds when in perfect condition.
- Ruby flashing is generally more desirable than either blue or amber flashing.
You can build up a respectable collection of spa glasses, flashed in only one color, for a reasonable sum. They can still be bought for around £150.
Porta Cake Stand & Dome Group, the design inspiration for William Yeoward Crystal is drawn from antique pieces originally made in England and Ireland during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Every piece of William Yeoward Crystal is entirely made by hand using the same traditional methods. $646.00
A pair of late 18th Century English glass rummers engraved with hop and wheat motifs and initials within an oval cartouche surmounted by a swag, the rim with a loose running border of flowers and leaves, each 6ins high, £150-200, The Canterbury Auction Galleries
Hand cut and engraved bowl, motif Maria Theresia, masterful treasury of the handicraft of Moser’s glassmakers, cutters and engravers. The engraver Konstantin Hable, Jr. designed this ornamental motif with angels in 1957 for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the company.
Silver Top Engraved Glass Perfume Bottle, early 20th century, £285.00
18thC Engraved Baluster Wine / Stem Glass (left), Georgian 18thC English Engraved Wine / Stem Glass w/ Tulip Pattern (right), US $995.00 each, ebay
Georgian 18thC English DSOT Engraved Wine / Stem Glass w/ Double Cotton Twist, $795.00, ebay
CHALICE, baroque, Bohemia, 18th century