Style Files: The History of Glass

One of our favorite items to collect here at AntiquitiesWeb is glass. Every artist adds their own unique twist to decorative glass art and it’s always a thrill when we find a new piece from a favorite artist like Lalique or  Gallé or Daum. The history behind decorative glass is truly fascinating beginning thousands of years ago in the late Roman Empire.

The term glass was born from the late-Latin term glesum—a Germanic word for a transparent, lustrous substance.  The word was first used at the Roman glassmaking center at Trier, now part of modern Germany. Before that, naturally occurring glass, such as obsidian, had been used by Stone Age civilizations as tools and for trade. Archeological evidence shows that the first true manmade glass was produced in Mesopotamia or Ancient Egypt. The earliest known glass object were beads, which would have been a luxury item.

During the Late Bronze Age glassmaking was halted due to a myriad of natural disasters. The use of glass did not start up again until the Middle Ages when glass was used in beads, windows, vessels and jewelry. From the 10th century on, stained glass became popular and eventually glass was produced in large, inexpensive sheets that were used in every substantial home.

In the 20th century glass had another renaissance. New types of glass such as laminated glass, glass bricks, and reinforced glass became available as building materials. There was also a revival in the ancient glass-making techniques, which had not been used since the Roman Empire. Artists like Louis Comfort Tiffany, the Waterfords, and Lalique began to use ancient methods to produce modern products. All of which are highly collectible today.

If you’re looking for a piece of see-through history then visit AntiquitiesWeb. We have a large selection of antique glass. Here is a small sample of our vast inventory:


A rare pair of Legras etched glass vases, circa 1925-1930. Clear olive green glass deeply etched with a regular geometrical pattern (2), both with etched mark ‘Legras’.


An overlaid & etched glass vase, circa 1910, cameo signature Daum Nancy with the Cross of Lorraine.


Overlaid and etched glass vase, France, circa 1905. Etched signature to side: Daum Nancy France. Provenance:Private collection.


A Rene Lalique molded and frosted glass scent bottle with stopper: Habanito. Marcilhac-3 p. 945, model introduced 1929 for Molinard. Blue patina, inscribed Molinard/Made in France/Lalique.

If you’re looking for a glass piece from designers like Gallé, Daum, or Lalique than contact AntiquitiesWeb. Our selection of top quality glass antiques are unique, original, and timelessly beautiful. No matter what kind of antique you’re looking for, AntiquitiesWeb has the piece for you. To see these pieces and more call us at 212-644-4236, contact us, or visit our New York gallery.

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