Crackle Glass

Crackle Glass

These articles are brought to you by the Virtual Glass Museum and written by

Stan & Arlene Weitman, authors of three books on Crackle Glass

  1. Introducing Crackle Glass
  2. Help in Valuing Crackle Glass
  3. Overshot Glass
  4. Vaseline Crackle Glass

1: Introducing Crackle Glass

by Stan & Arlene Weitman

GLASS is the third most popular collectible in the world, preceded only by coins and stamps. We feel CRACKLE GLASS is the most beautiful. Have you ever seen CRACKLE GLASS in a window when the sun reflects off the glass? A window decorated with different colored crackle is truly breathtaking.

Crackle Glass is known by other names, such as CRAQUELLE GLASS, ICE GLASS, OVERSHOT GLASS.

It was the Venetian Glass Makers of the 16th Century, who invented this marvelous process. The glass was immersed in cold water while it was molten hot, thereby cracking the glass. The glass was then reheated and either mold or hand blown into the shape the glass blower desired. The reheating of the glass sealed the cracks. If you run your hands over CRACKLE GLASS, you can feel the cracks, but the inside is smooth to touch.

Glass makers from the 19th Century and even today are still using the same methods.

Some of the companies that produced CRACKLE GLASS are: Blenko Glass Company, Pilgrim Glass Company, Mt. Washington Glass Company, H.C. Fry Glass Company, Boston & Sandwich Glass Company, Hobbs, Bruckunier & Company, Cambridge Glass Company, Kanawha Glass Company. Some of these companies are still operating today, making CRACKLE GLASS.

We will never forget the day my wife and I discovered CRACKLE GLASS. One day about five years ago, during the month of August, we were in a flea market in Commack, Long Island. We were browsing the different dealers, and I heard a vendor ask a customer, "Would you give me three dollars for this amber cruet?" The woman answered, "No". I immediately stepped forward and said that I would take the cruet for three dollars.

That was it. We were hooked, and five years later, we have a collection of around four-hundred pieces. We go to tag sales, garage sales, flea markets, auctions, advertise in the papers, pamphlets, circulars, business cards, any way to obtain CRACKLE GLASS.

In our books on Crackle Glass, we show the different shapes, sizes, colors of the cruets, miniature vases, miniature pitchers, large vases, large pitchers, decanters and many other beautiful items. We also include a price guide to show the novice collector or the advanced collector a range of prices in order to assist in the purchasing of CRACKLE GLASS.

Make sure you check the pieces you are about to buy, to see that they are in good condition; that they are not chipped or CRACKED (even though it is called CRACKLE GLASS). We have made the mistake many times in purchasing a piece of glass, being over-zealous, not carefully checking the piece, and thinking we have a great buy, only to go home and see the piece is defective.

Any defects will automatically devalue the piece. We suggest you hold up a piece to the light and turn it slowly in all directions to see if there are any imperfections. Make sure your piece is properly wrapped to protect it until you get home.

In closing, please be aware that there is new CRACKLE GLASS being produced today out of Taiwan and China. Fenton Glass Company and Blenko Glass Company are also producing New CRACKLE GLASS today. By using our book as your guide, you will be able to distinguish the new from the old. The older pieces will show more wear marks on the bottom and inside where a stopper may have been. (A cruet or decanter with a stopper or top to it is worth more than a piece without it) We have noticed that the shapes are more imperfect in the older pieces. You may see that they may lean to one side or you may feel bumps or variations in the glass that you cannot see. The fewer cracks or "crackles" a piece has the cheaper the piece of crackle should be.

Article 2: Help in Valuing Crackle Glass

by Stan & Arlene Weitman

Crackle Glass has become highly collectible. It is finally holding its own in the world of antiques and collectibles. Up until last year, when our book, "Crackle Glass Identification and Value Guide" was published, crackle glass was not taken very seriously by many dealers and collectors, who passed over it because it was hardly known.

Not anymore, IT'S HOT. Prices have soared, and pieces that were so easy to find are just not there anymore. People are holding on to crackle glass. Dealers are putting high prices on crackle glass, and collectors are more than willing to pay the prices.

When we go into antique shops, the dealers often tell us that crackle glass is their hottest item, and it's here today, gone tomorrow..

Being glass collectors, we became hooked on crackle glass when we saw it shimmering in the sun. We think it is absolutely beautiful. You would too if you saw how the light reflects and refracts off the cracks. The glass looks alive.

A window decorated with different colored crackle glass is truly breathtaking. It never fails to amaze us how quickly people become as hooked as we are when they see our display at antique and collectible shows.

We have now set up the first crackle glass club in the United States. We have members from all over the country. Our members buy, sell and trade crackle glass between each other. They also compare prices from one area of the country to the other. We also send out a newsletter three times a year.

From the late 1920's to early 1960's crackle glass was made in many vibrant colors, by many different companies in West Virginia, in many other states, and even abroad. It was also made in the 1880's. We are constantly asked how can you distinguish the old from the new. Just as with any other collectible, it is very important for a collector to research as thoroughly as possible the subject matter. We would suggest that by studying our book, and visiting reputable antique shops, to obtain hands-on experience, you will learn to distinguish the old from the new.

We can tell you that the styles, color and feel of the new crackle being made today, is different from the crackle being made in the past. Much of the new crackle is being imported from China, Taiwan, the Phillippines and Mexico. Most of the old crackle has a nice ring to it, as the glass was of better quality. The exception to this is the good quality crackle glass that is still being made today by the Blenko Glass Company of West Virginia. For years, Blenko continued to make crackle, but only specific pieces. Today, they have extended their crackle line.

Article 3: Overshot Glass

by Stan & Arlene Weitman

Overshot Glass is the name used in the USA for crackle glassware that was made from about 1870 up to the early turn of the century. Like crackle glass, it originated as a way of hiding defects in the surface of glass. There was an abundance of items produced, such as vases, pitchers, baskets, ladles, dishes, etc.

Like crackle glass, there were several methods of making overshot. The first way was that the gather of hot glass was rolled over a steel plate that was covered with thousands of very small pieces of glass. They adhered to the glass. They were very sharp, sharp enough that they could cut hands at the slightest touch. The gather was then returned to the ovens and reheated, melting the small pieces of glass, this melting causing them to lose their sharpness. The gather of glass was then reheated and then blown into a desired shape. This produced a wide thickness between the pieces of glass. The thickness varied from one piece to the other, depending how big the piece was made. The surface of this glass was usually smooth.

The second process involved the glass being blown into the original form first, and then rolled into glass fragments. The surface of these items were sharp to the touch with no avenues between the fragments.


If you look very carefully at some overshot glass items, you can see the glass is crackled underneath the small pieces of glass. Some of the companies that produced overshot glass are: The Boston and Sandwich Glass Company, Hobbs, Brockunier & Company, Falcon Glass Works, as well as abroad, such as France, England and Bohemian factories.

Most early pieces of overshot glass were clear, the colored pieces coming a little later on. Colored overshot was produced by dipping the gather of clear glass into a pot of colored glass. American overshot glass was never made with the blending of colors such as amberina. The blending of colors was produced by England. All of the colored overshot glass (not blending of colors) was done by Czechoslovakia.

Overshot glass was never pressed into a mold, although some were mold blown. Pieces made in Czechoslovakia are often acid etched CZECHOSLOVAKIA.

The price of overshot glass is very expensive compared to regular crackle glass. Even though there was an abundance of overshot glass made, it is very hard to come by, much is not seen.

The research for the overshot article was taken from "The Collector's Encyclopedia of American Art Glass" by John A. Shuman, III, an article on "The Glass Industry In Sandwich" by Barlow & Kasiser, "The Pittsburgh Glass Journal", Vol. 1, No. 7 Insert by Thomas Crawford, "19th Century Glass" by Thomas Nelson, 1959.


Article 4: Uranium Crackle Glass

by Stan & Arlene Weitman

For many years before writing our first book, we had no idea that we had any uranium or vaseline crackle glass, or even what vaseline glass was.

One day, we purchased a piece of regular glass that we were told was vaseline glass. We immediately went to our local book store and purchased a book on vaseline glass. ("Yellow-Green Vaseline" by Jay L. Glickman). The book taught us the only way to find out if you have true vaseline glass is by subjecting the piece to a black light. Vaseline glass will fluoresce. This is because vaseline glass contains uranium oxide.

"The ultraviolet is the key factor in the identification of vaseline glass. This light, often called 'black light' emits high energy emissions of electrons. In the case of vaseline glass, which usually contains about two percent uranium oxide, the light's strong flow of electrons has an unsettling effect on the relatively unstable uranium atom. The electrons circling the nucleus of the atom are pulled out of the orbit towards the ultraviolet light and back to the nucleus again. Resulting energy is in the form of yellow-green light characteristic of uranium."

Having a black light on hand, one day we decided to scan our crackle glass collection. To our surprise, many pieces fluoresced, even pieces that did not look green glowed. There are other types of glass that will glow: Burmese and custard glass, the latter two also containing uranium oxide. If you have two pieces of crackle glass that are similarly the same, but one is vaseline glass, the price of that piece should be valued much higher (40-50 percent higher).

When vaseline glass was invented it was not called vaseline glass. It was called "Uranium glass" or "Canary glass". In the 1950's the antique dealers renamed it because it had the same color as vaseline petroleum jelly.

Back in the late 1880's there was an abundance of vaseline glass produced by many companies. (Fenton, McKee, New England Glass Company, Boston & Sandwich Glass Company, Duncan & Sons, Hobbs, Bruckonier) There is a lot of vaseline glass on the shelves, tables of dealers that are not marked vaseline glass because a lot of dealers and collectors are not familiar with this glass.

So, if you get yourself a black light, go to the shows and the shops and you will be able to find excellent buys on vaseline crackle glass. Vaseline glass came in all shapes, sizes, different types of wares: Door knobs, finials, cruets, plates, etc. We have in our collection a punch bowl set, plates, glasses, cruets. The hand-held black light cost about $25, and they can be purchased from the antique trade magazines.

You will be amazed when you take a piece into a room, shut the lights off, put on the black light and see how the pieces glow.

We hope you enjoy this article as much as we enjoyed writing it.

If you are looking for crackle glass, you can usually find a selection on offer on ebay. Click here to see the Crackle Glass available just now.

If you have enjoyed this article you will enjoy the books listed below. Click on the bookcover or the title to see more information.

References and Further Reading:

Crackle Glass by Weitman 1995 Crackle Glass by Alford 1997 Crackle Glass 2 by Weitman 1997 crackle glass by Pina 2000 crackle glass 3 by Weitman 2004 Crackle Glass 2 by Pina 2007

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