Pressed Glass and Goblets Pressed Glass and Goblets

Frequently Asked Questions

Pressed Glass and Goblets
Pressed Glass and Goblets

What is “Flint Glass”?

“Flint Glass” is a term for glassware with a lead content, pressed and/or blown. In the United States “Flint Glass” was produced prior to the Civil War. Pieces with lead content are much heavier and have a bell sound or ring when you “ping” the glass with your finger. Most English Pressed Glass has a lead content, as they believed one had to add lead to glass to give the glass durability and brilliance. American Flint coloured pieces are considered rare.

What is “Non-Flint” Glass?

“Non-Flint” is a term used for glass produced after the “Lead” period or after the U.S. Civil War. When the Civil war began, glass makers were told they could not use lead, as it was to be reserved for bullets during the war. They soon discovered a means to continue to produce glass without lead, by simply not adding it. All “Pressed Glass” from this point on was produced “Unleaded” or “Non-Flint”, as it was cheaper to produce. If you tap “Non-Flint” glass you will not hear a bell tone, just a dull, short ring.

Why are there different colour variations in Pressed Glass?

If your glass has a green or grey tint, this is from the sand used, either the iron or lime. If your glass has a purple or pink hue, this is a chemical called Manganese. It was used to combat the green or grey tones created by iron. If you leave your Pressed Glass in the sun for long periods (like displaying oil lamps in your window frame) the purple colour will eventually darken because Manganese reacts to sunlight rays.

What is a “Banana Stand”?

A “Banana Stand” is a pedestal dish with a U-shaped bowl, used specifically for serving a bunch of bananas. These dishes came on a pedestal as well as without a pedestal, known as a “Flat Banana Dish”. They were designed for 2 specific reasons. Bananas enhance the ripening of your other fruit so they should always be kept separate. Also, when you set your table, your “Banana Stand” is at one end and your fruit compote at the other to balance your table.

What is a “Buttermilk Goblet”?

A “Buttermilk Goblet” is a goblet designed originally to drink buttermilk from. It is a short-squat and wide rimmed goblet. It looks almost like a small bowl on a stem. They are very popular today for mixed drinks, desserts, and shrimp cocktail or as a “Cottage-Dock Glass”. Many people prefer to entertain with these glasses at outdoor functions. The reason for this is most “Buttermilk Goblets” will take a full beer. These glasses will not tip because of the large, wide bowl, and they are not shaped like a wine glass, making it less formal.

Why are there “Covered Compotes” with Lids?

Compotes with lids were made and sold for desserts or fruits that had liquids, like strawberries or rhubarb. Open compotes were to serve apples, oranges, pears, etc. Any foods that had their own protective cover, like the skin on apples was safe to leave in the open. In the Victorian period, houses had poor screen windows and doors, making bugs and flies a problem. The “Covered Compotes” would keep the insects away from the liquid or cooked food. The open compotes would normally sit in the center of the dining table all day, available for a snack anytime.

Why are there pieces of “Miniature Glass”?

Miniature Glass or “Children’s Glass” made excellent gifts for young girls. The pieces come in forms such as creams, sugars, spooners, butter dishes, banana stands, cake stands, mugs, as well as candlesticks. “Children’s Glass” was used to train your daughter how to properly set a table. She would learn by setting her own table while she observed her Mother doing the same for anticipated company or family dining. For example if Mother was having a tea party, her daughter would set up a table to entertain her dolls and teddy bears. Mother would cut up fruit for the banana stand and perhaps a cupcake for her cake stand. “Children’s Mugs” in graduating sizes were used for children to learn to drink from a vessel at the table. “Children’s Candlesticks” were also used to help the daughter to learn how to set a table.

Did people collect “Pressed Glass” 100 years ago?

Yes, people did collect Pressed Glass 100 years ago. Although it was designed for everyday table use, it was very attractive. Ladies of the day did collect and trade pieces with each other. When you were married, if your family could afford the cost, you were usually given a full set of Pressed Glass tableware as your dowry. When you went to visit family, by horse and buggy, ladies would often take a piece from their dowry as a gift for their sister, cousin or Aunt. It was considered a very special gift. After several years of giving and receiving gifts, your cupboard would be full of odd pieces in many different patterns. It then became fashionable to have a variety of different pieces and patterns. Ladies would write to each other telling of their latest gift or trade and the different patterns received.

Is Pressed Glass durable? Can I still use it?

Pressed Glass is very durable. The majority of Pressed Glass has no lead content and was made to last and be used. It is glass and will break if you are not careful with your pieces. However, one has to consider that 100 years ago it was used on a daily basis and has survived over the 100 years of use. That is very durable glassware!

How many patterns are there?

No one really knows how many Pressed Glass patterns were produced in North America. It has been estimated at approximately 3,000 different patterns. We do know that there are at least 1,700 patterns produced in goblet form; but some companies produced patterns only in goblet form or only in tableware form.

Why did companies close?

Factories closed for several reasons; most often they were purchased by other factories to eliminate competition. US Glass was the largest glass making conglomerate. In Canada it was Dominion Glass that was the largest, buying out the majority of their competitors. Sometimes companies would continue producing patterns or cancel production lines after the takeover. Many factories closed due to fires as a direct result from the extreme heat required to mold glass. Sometimes the loss was so devastating that the company could not afford to rebuild. Molds were either sold to retrieve losses or scrapped. Some companies were forced into bankruptcy by lack of sales. Larger companies had better patterns, could hire more experienced mold makers and could afford good marketing. After the turn of the century, many people were buying imported European crystal that was a little more expensive than Pressed Glass. It was considered better quality and became very desirable. This also hurt sales, and eventually ended the Pressed Glass period.

How many “Nova Scotia Glass” patterns exist?

At this time we believe there to be 19 patterns produced in goblet form. Some of these goblet patterns were also produced in tableware forms, such as Crown, Floral and Raspberry. There are also several patterns that did not produce goblets but only tableware. The total number of patterns made including both goblets and tableware is 24 different patterns.

When were reproductions made?

Reproductions began in the 1920’s and 1930’s, however the majority of reproductions were made in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Reproductions were produced as recently as the 1970’s and 1980’s but only in specific forms and colours! The majority of reproductions have been documented and are well known amongst collectors and glass authorities.

How do you tell the difference between Authentic and Reproduction Pressed Glass?

The majority of Reproductions are known and documented. They were commonly made from new molds. With each reproduction there is a very specific way to tell. With most it has to do with the detail. Newer molds lack the details of the originals. With other reproductions it is the weight or thickness. Sometimes it is the colour of a pattern, if it wasn’t originally produced in colour. Occasionally reproductions are marked with a stamp like “MMA” for Metropolitan Museum of Art or “SM” for Sandwich Museum.

Why are there different sizes in “Cake Stands”?

Cake Stands were produced in different sizes for different uses. The largest “Cake Stands” made were produced for bakery store windows to display cakes or pies, or for household use, again to keep cakes and pies. The medium size cake stands (7” to 9”) were made to serve cookies, squares or tarts. The small cake stands (4” to 5”) were part of “Children’s Glass” sets. On the formally set dining table graduating cake stands were stacked for serving desserts, graduating up in size from largest to smallest. Customers have been using the “Child’s Cake Stand” as a top for a graduating stack, they are popular for chocolates, mints or truffles. Flower arrangements can be used for separating the desserts when stacking 3 or 4 high.

Why are there variations in patterns?

No one knows for certain why there are variations with some patterns. We have several theories. Over the lifetime of a pattern it was probably produced by several companies if it was popular with the consumer, and occasionally both in Canada and the U.S. This could have occurred when companies closed and auctioned or sold mold designs, or molds could have been part of a sale of a company when bigger companies took over smaller companies. Different molds were used, so a variation in design could have easily occurred within one pattern. We also know that mold makers worked a few months at one company at a time, changing factories many times over a year. They often stole successful designs from one company and incorporated it in a design with another company. This also explains variations. Another theory is that after companies cancelled production of a pattern and if there was a high demand from the consumer to make more of that pattern, it could have been produced in a different version, but still resembling the original.

Is it a Canadian or American made piece? How do you know?

There were patterns in Pressed Glass that were only made in the United States and patterns that were only produced in Canada. There also were patterns that were produced in both Countries. It is not possible to tell within a pattern how to identify which pieces were produced in either the United States or Canada. This dual production in both countries occurred because of factory takeovers and molds that were sold when companies closed down. Jefferson Glass Company of USA opened in Toronto and chose some of their best patterns to be produced in Canada. Identical patterns were produced from the very same molds. They had already acquired Higbee Glass Company molds from Pennsylvania when the Higbee Glass Company closed. Some of these patterns were produced by Higbee Glass Company, Jefferson Glass USA as well as Jefferson Glass Canada.

What is the difference between Flint Glass and Crystal?

Flint Glass is pre-civil war glassware with a lead content (see Q and A above). It can be blown or pressed. Crystal was produced after the civil war in Canada and the U.S.A, as well as Europe and Great Britain. It has a greater lead content and is a finer type of glass, making it less durable. It can be molded, blown, cut by hand or machine cut.

Does the Number of Mold-Lines tell us Age?

No! This has been an old wives tale for several years. The number of pieces to form a mold was decided by the mold maker, and usually depended on the size and shape of the piece. He would try to encompass the mold line in the pattern to hide it. The number of mold lines also depended on the skill of a mold maker. More skilled mold makers used fewer pieces. Pressed Glass can be found with 2, 3 or 4 piece molds.

What was a “Goblet” and “Wine” used for?

“Goblets” (5"-7") were marketed and known as “Water Goblets”. Water was the customary table beverage for refreshment and mealtime drinking. “Wine” glasses (3" - 4"), were used for drinking wine. Today we find them very small for today’s wine drinking. In the 1880’s wine was expensive and very strong. We didn’t have vineyards in Niagara or California. Wine was imported from Europe by boat. In rural areas, it had to be shipped by stage coach to your general store. This added to the retail cost. On a Saturday evening you would enjoy a sample of your bottle of wine, then wait until the following Saturday for another taste.

Is that a crack or a mold line?

Pressed Glass was considered to be everyday, cheaply mass produced glassware. Mold imperfections are standard in any piece of early Pressed Glass. A crack in Pressed Glass will always be felt on both sides, inside and out. It is impossible for glass to crack only on one side. Light will reflect through a crack in glass, and you will see the line of the crack touching both sides. Cracks are considered ‘after factory damage’ and de-value the piece drastically. Mold imperfections, known widely as “Straw Marks”, can only be felt on one side and will look like a thick or thin scratch. These lines were created from the cast iron mold. As molds were heated and cooled hundreds and hundreds of times over, the cast iron would begin to crack, and the pattern impression would fade. These cracks or imperfections would appear on the glass, as well as deterioration in the pattern, known as “weak impressions”. “Straw Marks” are considered acceptable, and are a part of the making. For this reason “Straw Marks” do not affect the value of the piece of glass.

Why are there bubbles inside my glass?

Bubbles occurred during the pressing stage when air got inside the mold. Bubbles are a part of the making of Pressed Glass and are also considered acceptable. They do not signify an original piece or a reproduction as it can occur in any type of glass, depending on the quality of the glass maker and quality of the mold.

What is a “Jelly Compote”?

A “Jelly Compote” looks like a miniature fruit compote (4 ½" - 5" tall). It was used to serve a jelly or chutney with your dinner. Home preserves, jellies and chutneys were very popular. For every kind of meat, there were jellies to accompany the meat.

Did Pressed Glass Companies ever sign their glass?

Yes, several Pressed Glass companies signed their glass. Some of the most recognizable companies include the “Heisey Glass Company” of Ohio, U.S.A. Their trademark started in 1907 on glass with an “H” inside a diamond embossed directly inside a piece on the stem or on the base of pedestal pieces. Another company was the “Higbee Glass Company” of Pennsylvania, U.S.A. They signed their glass with their trademark “Bee” mark. It is a figural bee stamped inside the piece and occasionally you can also see “HIG in the bee’s wings. Several English Pressed Glass Companies also signed their glass. One of the more recognizable is “Sowerby” Glass Company. Its trademark appears inside pieces and is an upright whale above a water line.

What is a “Spooner”?

A “Spooner” was part of your 4 piece breakfast set which consisted of a Cream, Sugar, Butter Dish and Spooner. The spoon was the most frequently used utensil and a “Spooner” was designed to sit on the table at all times.

Is Pressed Glass Dishwasher Safe?

We do not recommend using a dishwasher to clean any antiques, especially Pressed Glass. Dishwashers, the soaps used in dishwashers and the heat of the water will eventually turn your Pressed Glass milky white and leave a deposits in the pattern. Once this is done it is virtually impossible to remove. You have taken the time to select nice pieces of Pressed Glass; it is worth the time to keep them looking beautiful by hand washing them!

Sean George
Pressed Glass & Goblets
P.O. Box 369
Arthur, Ontario Canada
N0G 1A0


Pressed Glass and Goblets