I have quite the obsession with vintage glassware! Glassware is another one of the vintage items I collect in addition to costume jewelry and handbags. I’ve been asked several times to put together a guide to the most popular, or at least, my favorite vintage glassware.
A Guide to Vintage Glassware
You can get lucky by finding vintage glassware by rummaging around at garage sales or at the flea markets and get lucky. Most people, however, don’t know what to look for when selecting a good piece of vintage glassware because there is a LOT of vintage glassware out there ranging from antique crystal to more refined mid-century glassware. The markings, color, shape, and other details all play a part in understanding the history and value of glassware. By knowing what to look for, you’ll know when to splurge on a valuable piece of glassware to add to your collection. More often than not, just knowing the various brands and style gives you a better appreciation for the fine art of glassware. My take on it– if you love it then collect it – it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to be a great find or collectible piece.
I’ve focused on my favorite and most recognized vintage glassware from the mid-century period.
Anyone who knows me knows that Blendo glassware is by far my favorite vintage glass to collect. Blendo glass was made by West Virginia Glass Company and was really popular in the 1950s and 60s and is still relatively easy to find now. Blendo glass is characterized by a bright neon/pastel solid base that fades as it goes up the glass and a gold rim. You’ll see repros and knock off brands that have the base color, but not the signature gold rim. Blendo glass makes great entertaining ware as they come in cocktail and juice sets and pitchers. Because they are easier to find, you can build an entertaining set quite quickly (and on the cheap).
Where to buy: flea market, thrift store, Etsy
Cost: $30 for a set
Culver Glass Company was famous for their stunning decorative glassware in 22-karat gold – think lavish and opulent cocktailware of the 1950s and 60s. In the late 1950’s, Culver started the application of the 22-karat gold to their glassware. Fun fact: the super-heated, roll-on process of gold remains a secret today. Culver comes in a variety of patterns including gilded mushrooms, owls, cats, wildlife, Egyptian or Asian inspired design themes, scrolling leaf patterns, holiday designs, sports motifs and many others. The Valencia pattern which features gilded Moroccan-style trellis and raised emerald-green diamonds is the most popular pattern in cocktailware. Some other collectible patterns include:
Prado: green and gold squares
Antiqua: low-set, simple crackled-gold band with a single row of oval cut-outs
Seville: similar to ‘Valencia’ pattern, but with aqua-blue diamonds and considered very rare
Pisa: crackled gold with three rows of oval cut-outs
Paisley: red reverse and gold swirly paisley pattern
If you’re looking for high-end vintage cocktailware, then Culver is the top contender. It’s relatively easy to find, but you’ll pay a bit more for it. Look for the “Culver” signature on the glass.
Cost: $60 – $120 for a set
Dorothy Thorpe was a mid-century American artist who designed beautiful glassware and ceramic pieces out of her Los Angeles studio. She purchased simple blank glassware, mostly crystal, from U.S. and European manufacturers and decorated them with her personal designs. She created these breathtaking designs by using a sandblasting technique. She was also known for her silver overlay and paint speckled glass pieces, which included all types of glassware and punchbowl sets. This silver overlay is now her most popular and collected pattern. While some of Thorpe’s glassware pieces are signed with a large “T” and a smaller “D”, many of her pieces found today do not carry her signature or her original logo sticker on them. Since Thorpe designed on “blanks”, the only known silver pieces that can be attributed to Thorpe are her timeless and modern, wide-band sterling overlay glass pieces. If you’re a minimalist, then Dorothy Thorpe is your go-to for fine cocktailware.
Cost: $100 – $250 for a set
Libbey is has made millions of glass tumbles – from water glasses, tea glasses to goblets and other drinkware – over the years. It was and can still be found in most American homes! Since there are many patterns to find, the most popular – and at least my favorite – include the flamingo, daisy, and travel patterns. Vintage Libbey glassware is signed with a cursive “L” within an ordinary circle or ring. The mark actually appears backwards if viewed from outside of the glass, but it appears correctly when looking down through the inside. New Libbey glassware is signed with a cursive “L” without the circle.
Where to buy: thrift stores, flea market
Cost: very inexpensive, $10 – $20 for a set
Georges Briard was the go-to for decorative housewares in the 1950s and 60s and was carried at upscale retails like Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus. Briard’s success and notoriety came with the use of 22-karat gold as screened decoration for bent glassware. His design hallmarks are repetitive patterns, most often featuring geometric shapes or nature based images. The most popular patterns include:
Ambrosia: features a pineapple motif in gold
Fancy Free: features a hot air balloon motif usually found in gold as well as light blue
Forbidden Fruit: features an apple motif usually found in gold as well as light blue, mint, and yellow
Persian Garden: features flowers, leaves, branches in gold
All Briard glassware is signed with his name and appears in cursive on each piece of glassware.
Cost: $60-$100 for a set
Arcoroc pink swirl cups known as Rosaline are a dream and pop up on Instagram and Pinterest most often. Arcoroc glassware was produced in France in the 1980s, although it is commonly known as depression glass. This glassware features a swirl patterns on a variety of glass including saucers, coupes, flutes, goblets and other glassware. The Rosaline collection is the perfect gift for a bridal shower or as a hostess gift.
Where to buy: flea market, Etsy
Cost: $30 for a set
All images by me, except Libbey photo from here.