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Planning Retirement Online

Family Treasures - Edition 9
                            September 2004


Purchase Miller's Price Guide 2004/2005

Family Treasures 9

Jill Churchill, who writes on antiques and collectables for YOURS magazine, continues her series.  



Cranberry glass

Rose-red glass was big about 150 years ago. Collectors know it as cranberry glass, a name more familiar to Americans. Rich lady tourists from the USA visited British homes and named it after their favourite berry. (It helped that Queen Victoria was said to be very fond of the luxury of a cranberry tart.) 

Home owners from about 1860 onwards were ordering flattering pink glass shades for their oil- (and later gas-) lamps. Today an old non-working brass lamp with a cranberry shade is 100 -350.

For sweetmeats, flowers and fingers

Soon every Victorian hostess also hankered for an “epergne” table centrepiece in cranberry glass. They could stand more than 20 inches high on the dining table, holding sweetmeats and flowers. They can be worth around 700 today - and it’s surprising how many, disassembled, are still preserved in attics.

Then there are matching wine glasses, fingerbowls, decanters, water jugs, biscuit barrels. Valuing them today is tricky: old cranberry wine glasses with white stems are rarely more then 15, because many were made.

The other accessories will depend on whether they are really Victorian, with top prices going to items that have added gilding, a good weight, or maybe some hand-cutting. At London’s Olympia fairs, all the very-OK glass dealers there will show you genuine articles, with values from 50 for a simple fingerbowl to 1500 for a wonderfully gilded job. Olympia's fairs are held in spring, summer and winter: the winter one takes place 8-14 November. Details (020 7370 8188)

Spot the Italian

As always, check if you’re not sure of a piece’s age. In the 1950s and 60s another wave of tourists (those Yanks again) started snapping up our antiques supplies, leading dodgier dealers to import repro stuff from Italy. You can spot most Italian pieces (which are seldom worth more than 10) by their frilly white edges and sometimes ‘dimpling’.

All dealers sometimes call cranberry glass by its old name, ‘ruby glass’ – which comes in very handy when they are trying to sell you a 60th wedding anniversary present. It makes a very appropriate one of course.

Those same dealers cherish a charming legend about how cranberry was made: ‘The master of the glassworks would throw a gold sovereign into the clear liquid glass to turn it red’. Well, call me a spoilsport, but the truth is that although gold was used, it had to be in fine powder form - sorry!

Previous editions:

Family Treasures - 1

Family Treasures - 2

Family Treasures - 3

Family Treasures - 4

Family Treasures - 5

Family Treasures - 6

Family Treasures - 7

Family Treasures - 8

Family Treasures - 9

For subsequent editions - see the laterlife interest index



laterlife interest

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