as published in the American Cut Glass Association
Hobstar, January 1990
(As fake cut glass from the Brilliant Period is once again being offered for sale, this article is timely and should be noted by all collectors.)At the 1989 ACGA Convention in New Orleans, I spoke about the number of new fake cut glass pieces that have been sold in the last 8 to 10 years. Since then, I have compiled a list of 40 known patterns that have been sold to many collectors all over the country.
Everyone of these pieces can be recognized by one of several methods. Since only a small portion of ACGA membership attends the Convention, I think everyone should be warned to be on the lookout for these fake pieces of glass, should they be offered for sale. There are still some very good pieces to be acquired, but you must be able to tell the difference.
There are five things to look for in a piece of old American Brilliant Period glass 1. Fluorescence; 2. Signature; 3. Shape of the blank; 4. Wear marks on the bottom and face of the blank; and 5. Diamond wheel cutting.
1. Fluorescence — Any of the new pieces will show a pink or purple color when exposed to a 15-watt blacklight blue fluorescent bulb in a dark room.
2. Signature — The signature on the new pieces, if they are signed, is usually very poor or smudgy-looking when compared to the old signatures.
3. Shape of the blank — The shape of the blank is usually different from the old ones, especially the 7-inch plates. They are usually almost twice as thick and have a high spot in the center of the blank.
4. Wear marks on the bottom and face of the blank — be sure to look for wear marks on both the bottom and the inside of the piece, and look for damage, as most old pieces will have some small nicks or abrasions on the outer edge or bottom.
5. Diamond wheel cutting — all of the new pieces have been cut with diamond wheels, which leave small grooves in the glass which can be detected if you look very closely. Most of the pieces are acid polished, which can be seen if you examine the piece very carefully. I have a piece of Libbey “Grand Prize” which was polished on a wood or felt wheel because Libbey didn’t use acid in their earlier years; however, this piece fluoresces pink, is in a pristine condition, has a bad signature, and was cut on a diamond wheel. There are several mistakes in the pattern, which leads me to believe the cutter had never seen a real piece of “Grand Prize.” I purchased this piece several years ago, before I was able to detect fake cut glass.
Following is a list of new pieces in named patterns that have been sold in the last 8 to 10 years:
1. Aberdeen — Jewel
2. Alhambra — Meriden
3. Byzantine — Meriden
4. Theodora — Meriden
5. Arabesque — J. Hoare
6. Croesus — J. Hoare
7. Wedding Ring — J. Hoare
8. Wheat — J. Hoare
9. Arabian — Egginton
10. Calve — Egginton
11. Cluster — Egginton
12. Genoa — Egginton
13. Persian — Egginton
14. Russian — Egginton
15. Clover — Hawkes
16. Concentric Circles — Hawkes
17. Coronation — Hawkes
18. Grecian — Hawkes
19. Lattice & Rosettes — Hawkes
20. Nautilus — Hawkes
21. Panel — Hawkes
22. Panel & Pillar — Hawkes
23. Queens — Hawkes
24. Columbia — Libbey
25. Grand Prize — Libbey
26. Imperial — Libbey
27. Isabella — Libbey
28. Kensington — Libbey
29. Comet — Libbey
30. Marcella — Libbey
31. Drape (Morello) — Libbey
32. Aztec — Libbey
33. Assyrian — Sinclaire
34. DuBarry — Quaker City
35. Good Luck — Bergen
36. Quatrefoil & Rosettes — Clark
37. Rex — Tuthill
38. Shell — Tuthill
39. Trellis — Egginton
40. Jewel Center Hobstar — Jewel
I have never seen or have been able to purchase a fake piece of Hawkes “Gravic,” Sinclaire engraved glass, or Tuthill engraved glass, which leads me to believe the cutters never had the ability to do this type of work.
I am still doing intensive investigation and hope to apprehend the person or persons who cut these fake pieces of glass. A conservative guess would be that from 3 to 5 million dollars worth of this glass has been sold in the last 8 to 10 years. The next time you purchase an important piece of glass, be sure to ask your dealer where it came from. You are entitled to know the history of every piece you buy.
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Some additional comments from Max Redden
March 8, 2007
In Search of the ‘Old’ Glass
In 1983, I attended an auction not far from my home and met Bob Hall. We had a conversation and I invited him to visit me at my home. He showed up a couple of hours later in the afternoon. He stated that he was interested in cut glass and was just beginning to collect. After seeing my glass, he became very excited and became an active collector. We became very close friends and visited back and forth about every two weeks. He met Herb Wiener who was a dealer in cut glass and immediately struck up a friendship. He started by buying signed Libbey pieces from Wiener. In visiting Bob in his home, I became interested in his cut glass and noticed that some of the signatures were of very poor quality and became concerned about it.
Bob also collected 10-inch platters and had about ten of those. He finally became suspicious about his glass and decided it might be counterfeit. The pieces he had were like new and in a pristine condition. There were no scratches or other marks on them. He decided to call in a couple of the other collectors for a conference and consultation. Bob decided he would become an honest dealer of cut glass.
Bob and I left on a tour beginning in Richmond, VA where he had a show and traveled south and west to visit several collectors and look at their glass. The more we looked, the more it became apparent that our suspicions were justified. Everyone who had bought glass from Herb Wiener had the same sort of glass in their collection.
After we arrived home, we decided to get a black light to see what we could make out of it. At first, we couldn’t see any difference in the glass. Bob turned out the lights in a small room and we noticed some difference in the color of the glass. The new glass had a purple color and the old Libbey glass had a fairly deep green color. After checking all of his glass, we decided that the new glass fluoresced the purple color and the old glass had the green fluorescence.
After we made this discovery, we decided to check some museums around the country to find out how their collections fluoresced. The first we went to was the Libbey Museum in Toledo, OH. We fluoresced all of their glass and discovered that in all the pieces checked there was the deep green color. The next museum that we went to was the Corning Museum in Corning, NY, with the same results.
We were ready to go to Florida to the museum there when Bob’s case came up for trial against Herb Wiener. He settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of monies.
We met several times after that with the ACGA President and other people to decide what to do about the things which we had found. The black light is still the best way to check to find out if the glass is from this country or a foreign country. By looking at the blanks on a 7-inch plate, we could see that they were all made the same — thick and heavy, new, no scratches, poor signatures and they did not fluoresce properly.
We owe the black light ‘test’ to Bob Hall and we will always be grateful to him!