Vintage and Antique Glass

15 Dec 2022

In Casa Fina we display antique and vintage items amongst the new just as you would in your home. We have been doing this for several years, thinking initially that our emphasis would be on English china but it’s glass that has become our speciality. Most English glass manufacturers have closed in recent years which means that the best way to buy really good quality glassware is to buy antique or vintage pieces. There are two benefits to this – firstly they are really good value and secondly it’s such a great environmentally friendly purchase as no new materials have been used in their production.

Our glass is generally post 1850 which was an interesting period for glass as the taste maker John Ruskin stated that ‘all cut glass is barbaric’ in his 1853 ‘The stones of Venice’. He preferred free blown undecorated glass but his attempts to influence taste were largely ignored by the public. Brilliant cut glass was introduced in the late Victorian era (referring to the glittering effect of deep cuts in thicker glass) and English cut glass became known worldwide for its quality and design. Our best sellers are cut glass tumblers, vases, rinsers and ice plates which are great to use as candle stands or dessert plates.

At the same time, firms such as Davidson were producing pressed glass imitations. Some of these were remarkably good at replicating the quality of cut glass and were hand finished to polish and reduce the tell tale mould lines. We sell mid century pressed glass cake stands and occasionally find an interesting piece of Victorian pressed glass; perhaps an ice plate or tazza.

There’s so much to learn and in early summer Helen and I visited the Stourbridge Glass Museum on the site of the old Stuart Crystal Factory (which closed in 2001). We learnt the differences between acid etching, hand and wheel engraving, intaglio and cameo glass. We seek out etched champagne saucers and port glasses and occasionally find a beautiful engraved jug or decanter. At Stourbridge we saw the spectacular 2012 reproduction of the famous Portland Vase and met the cameo engraver Terri Colledge. My favourite piece was a Bacchus decanter (pictured), it dated from 1850 but looked so contemporary that you wouldn’t be surprised to see it in a gallery today.


Custard Cup – a small glass bowl with a handle and short stem. they are derived from earlier glasses used for syllabub or jelly in the banquets of the eighteenth century.
Ice plate – Ices, served from shaped moulds on to glass plates were a popular part of the dessert course in Victorian times.
Rinser – used for chilling or rinsing glasses between courses. These went out of fashion when different glasses became fashionable
Tazza – a shallow wide cup on a stem creating an elevated dish popular on the crowded dinner tables. These are also called footed salvers or cake stands.

List of photos

Champagne saucers, Waterford tumblers
Portland Vase, Bacchus decanter

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