About Crackle Glass
If you’ve ever seen a piece of colorful glass with a surface that appeared cracked, then you were probably holding a piece of crackle glass. This look is purposefully achieved by dipping hot glass into cold water, and it became very popular in the mid-twentieth century. (Note: The surface is reheated after crackling to strengthen and smooth the surface. No cracks can be felt on either the interior or exterior.) Sometimes referred to as “window glass,” it’s appearance is only improved when sunlight shines through it, creating a brilliant stained glass effect. Its beautiful jewel-tones have attracted many collectors over the years.
Five West Virginia glass companies are primarily responsible for the vintage crackle glass we find on the market today: Pilgrim, Rainbow, Blenko, Birchoff, and Kanawha. The first two produced most of the smaller pieces, like mini-pitchers, jugs, and vases that are commonly seen at garage sales and thrift stores. The latter three companies produced much larger, more stunning pieces like decanters and vases, often designed by artists who are sought after today. Both Blenko and Pilgrim continue to produce crackle glass, using many of their older designs.
Each piece of collectible crackle glass was hand blown by a glass artisan. Many pieces exhibit a rough bottom, called a “pontil mark” where the piece was “broken” off the blowtube when finished. Sometimes instead of a pontil mark you will find a super smooth indent, a sign that the pontil mark was polished off. Other signs that a piece was hand blown are a smooth rim and an applied handle (a piece of glass separate from the body, applied to the body). The most popular colors include those that were costly to make: ruby red, cobalt, tangerine, amberina, and cranberry, and those with a short production life: smoke and gray. Amethyst is also a popular color that has a slightly higher value, along with those just mentioned.
About This Price Guide
Each of the items in the photos below I currently own or have owned in the past. Most are pieces that an “average” buyer or seller might come across. Values are based on my personal experience being in the antique business for almost twenty years. Note that values vary from state to state, region to region, and country to country; for example, I live in Upstate New York, which has very different pricing from New York City. Other factors affecting value include condition and market (auction, store, eBay, etc.).
Here’s an example: Last year, I listed a few pieces of crackle glass for sale in my Etsy shop, when it didn’t sell, I put them together as a “mini-collection.” They didn’t sell as a group either. But after I brought them to my “real” shop, priced at $12-15.00 each, they all sold within a few months. So keep in mind that my guides are meant to be just that guides, just one tool in your arsenal to help you value your collectibles.