We have inevitably all seen it and grown familiar with its brilliance: American Brilliant Period cut glass. Whether it is adorning a well-laid table at a holiday meal or gracing the shelves of a curio cabinet, American cut glass has remained one of the most luxurious and elegant pieces for the dining table.
While cut glass can be traced to Ancient Egypt, it was established as a modern day tradition in Europe, and soon crossed the Atlantic to invade the decorative arts of the young New World.
Beginning in the 18th century, these early American cut glass enthusiasts began the early period of American Brilliant Period cut glass.
It was in the 19th century that American glassmakers came into their own style, displaying their own ingenuity in design and creation. A distinctively American style developed, remembered to as the “Brilliant Period” of cut glass. These remarkable craftsmen would excel beyond all others worldwide, producing and designing original patterns, styles, and artistic talent.
Yet, how was it that American craftsmen were able to surpass their European counterparts? For one, copious amounts of high-grade silica, used for creating glass, was discovered in America. Culturally, glass in America became a symbol of elegance, luxury, and wealth. To own a fine piece of cut glass was a representation of affluent character and class. Because of this strong desire by consumers, intense competition and creativity thrived within the industry.
A perfect example of the extreme talent of American cut glass is the company, T.B. Clark & Company established in 1884. Thomas Byron Clark, the pioneer of the highly successful company, was known for his incredibly diverse and unique patterns. This magnificent two piece cut glass punch bowl is an impeccable example of the talent behind late 19th century American glass cutters. Displaying dazzling detail, the popular and intricate Hobstar pattern is enhanced by ribbons of strawberry diamonds, fans, and stars. The signed tulip shaped punch bowl features an elegant, matching cut glass base.
Along with the Hobstar pattern, numerous other patterns were utilized and improved upon by American cut glassmakers. This Persian variation of the Russian pattern, for example, features hobstars on its hobnails. Creating a detailed, elaborate design, this pattern was highly sought after for its exotic effect. This cut glass basket is a unique example of the beauty of the Russian pattern. Measuring at an elegant nine inches tall, this piece displays the sophisticated and timeless luxury of American Brilliant Period cut glass.
Like T.B. Clark glass manufacturers, Libbey Glass Company is also an ideal example of cut glass craftsmanship that achieved high praise and worldwide superiority. From its inception, the Libbey Glass Company assumed and maintained a prominent position, considered second to none in the production of premium American glass. This American Brilliant Period cut glass bowl exhibits an elegant mixture of the hobstar and cane work pattern. Combining these two revered patterns creates a rare design of high quality. Today, examples of Libbey cut glass are considered the best of the best. Their fire and radiance remain unmatched and are highly sought-after by collectors.