Art Glass collecting is a popular hobby for various reasons. Art glass is generally considered to have its origins in the mid 1800’s when glass makers began to produce pieces that were not only functional but decorative or artistic in nature (Merriam-Webster’s definition can be found here). Collecting art glass can be a great way to decorate a home due to the large number of colors and shapes that were used in its production. Almost any decorating style and home design can be complimented by art glass.
There were many manufacturers of art glass with some of the most well known being Tiffany, Fenton, and Blenko among others. One tip for the beginning collector is to determine a theme before collecting a large amount of art glass. While a small collection of eclectic pieces can make an interesting display, focusing on one theme can help to keep costs down and avoid purchases that are difficult to display. Ideas for collection themes include by color, complementary colors, artist, manufacturer, place of manufacture, dates of manufacture, etc. By focusing on one area when collecting art glass the collector can more easily gather information and avoid buying fakes, paying too much for an item, and other collecting mistakes.
While art glass was generally purchased to be decorative there are still many pieces that have been damaged over the decades or longer that they have existed. Buyers need to be careful to carefully inspect every item before purchase for problems and buy only from reputable internet sources. The online retailer eBay is great for collectors but be certain to buy only from sellers with a good feedback rating. Damaged glass should only be purchased in certain situations, such as a damaged piece that is extremely rare or one that the collector truly loves as reselling it may be difficult and its value will always be much less than a undamaged piece.
For those who are especially frugal or who simply love the hunt for bargains, art glass can still be found inexpensively. While finding high quality, undamaged art glass at yard sales, flea markets, estates sales and similar outlets can be difficult it does still happen. Look for sales in older neighborhoods, near to art glass manufacturers, and group sales (church rummage sales, etc.) to increase the odds of finding a treasure. Even items that do not fit into collections should be purchased if they are priced right. These items can be sold at a profit and used to buy desired items.
Collecting art glass is a hobby that can be profitable and is a fun to add beauty and interest to a home.