When the person on your gift list collects antiques and vintage items, a very simple present would be cranberry glass. This pink, delicate collectible goes by the name of ruby glass in Europe. Cranberry is a beautiful color of deep pink red and surely not to be confused with the “flash” glass of the same name.
Cranberry glass became extremely popular during the Victorian period and is now a favorite of many collectors. Ornamental vases, cups, and pitchers were very appealing forms of the day. Most of these have a pearlescent sheen from the firing and reduction methods used in the past.
We also learn that 1870 to 1930 was the primary production period. It was during this time that it was being manufactured in England, France, Belgium, Bavaria, Bohemia, as well as the United States. Production in America was mainly in the New England region. Ironically, it just happens to be where cranberries are raised, so as it may be, an American never lacking for a good marketing idea, coined the term Cranberry Glass.
It is made in small batch production rather than in large quantities, due to the value of gold and the delicate reduction process that is needed. Gold chloride is made by dissolving gold in nitric and hydrochloric acids resulting in a colloid. These “gold salts” are then mixed with molten glass and the result is a color more to the pink, like a ruby. But, ruby red is less like a real ruby and contains a different colorant. Only a few companies have attempted this process and even still, Pilgrim is one of the very few to be extremely successful with this color.
One of the obvious traits of old cranberry is the weight and feel of the item. But, like most everything in the world of antiques, reproduction is prevalent and it has been copied by modern glassmakers. These replica products, though, just don’t have the warm color of the old collectibles and have an almost bluish cast. This can usually be noticed when held up to the light.
The origins of cranberry glass making are somewhat hazy. Some historians believe it was first made in the late Roman Empire. Johann Kunckel is normally given the credit of re-discovering how to produce it, in Brandenburg, Bohemia around 1670. He was a chemist from a family of glass-makers. In 1679, his experiments and the results were published in his famous book “Ars Vetraria Experimentalis”.
Cranberry is most usually mouth-blown, molded, or mold-blown and rarely factory pressed. Mouth-blown glass can be identified by the pontil mark on the bottom and mold-blown by the mold mark. When mouth-blown, the material usually expands only a short distance from the blow pipe, thus making it a difficult material with which to work.
Given the uninterrupted popularity of these items, America’s oldest glassmaker, Pairpoint Glass Works, is still in operation and continues to turn out works of art in cranberry glass that is only handblown one piece at a time. Located next to the Cape Cod Canal in Massachusetts, this revered experienced firm maintains lofty standards for their products.
Rossi Glass based in Niagara Falls, is the only Canadian manufacturer specializing in cranberry glass and has donated several examples for permanent display in the future Museum of Contemporary Glass.
West Virginia based, Fenton Art Glass, known world wide for their product perfection, also produces handblown and mold-blown cranberry glass collectibles of many shapes and sizes. Items from 1907 through current production can be viewed at their museum in Williamstown, WV.
Studio glassmakers today can purchase their cranberry glass in rods from specialty manufacturers. This is more expensive, but makes it easier for them to produce beautiful items for the collectors of tomorrow.
Melissa Spaulding is an experienced eBay merchant and collector of Vintage Fenton Cranberry Glass. If you enjoyed reading this article, please feel free to visit the following website to read additional articles and find some great deals. Click on this link to visit now: Vintage Fenton Cranberry Glass