Hi everyone! Today I’ll be talking about one of the most cheerful vintage collectibles I know: crackle glass. I think it’s hard to frown around these pretty jewel-toned pieces, don’t you?
Venetians developed the glass crackling method during the 17th century, but the crackle glass you see pictured here in this post dates to about 1920-1960, and was made in America. Crackle glass pitchers and other similar items–especially the rarer colors, like red, cobalt blue, and amethyst–are quite collectible. Glass blowers make these vessels by dipping the pieces in cold water, causing the crackle effect, and then submitting the piece to heat again, to seal the cracks.
I have a collection of green glass lining my kitchen window. The three smaller pieces belong to that collection. The taller one will be part of the “instant” collection (as shown above), that I will list in my Etsy shop soon. The most popular colors: amberina, cobalt blue, amethyst, cranberry, ruby red, tangerine, and gray–some because they cost more to manufacture, others because less was made (gray).
After the body of the piece is blown and crackled, the glass maker blows a handle and then applies it to the side of the pitcher. This one has nice striations, which makes for a decorative handle.
One of the ways that you can determine if a piece is hand blown is to look for a pontil mark on the bottom. A pontil is a long metal rod upon which the glass is blown and shaped by the glass blower. After the shaping is complete, the artisan breaks the piece off the pontil, leaving a kind of jagged circle of glass on the bottom. You can see it in the above photo.
Some of the best known crackle glass makers include Blenko, Pilgrim, and Mt. Washington Glass Companies. Some, like Blenko, continue to make crackle glass today. I have fairly good luck finding these colorful collectibles at yard sales and like to pay no more than a dollar or two for the small-sized pieces I’ve shown you here today. Pieces like this typically sell for $15 to $30. For a few years Blenko sandblasted their name on the bottom of their pieces with a hand underneath; these are sought after and more valuable.
Keep in mind that China and Taiwan produce a huge amount of fake crackle glass. How can you tell the difference? The easiest way to tell is by the rim. The rim of genuine crackle is smooth to the touch (look at the photos), while the rim of fake crackle has been cut and then ground a bit, so the edge is sharper and it is cloudy. Most real crackle also gives a nice ring when flicked with your finger nail and glows in the light. Fake crackle is much less beautiful.