Sunday, August 21, 2011

Baluster glasses

uluvka bottleVery few drinking glasses were made in England before the late 17th century. The Low Countries and Venice were the main areas of industry. However, by 1675 George Ravenscroft developed lead glass and gradually English styles appeared on the scene. The baluster design was one of the earliest examples and was popular from around 1690 to 1720. Many people consider the baluster the masterpiece of English glass making and they have become long-time favourites with collectors, due to the streamlined simplicity of design and purity of the glass.
An English oak and silver plate-mounted tantalusBaluster glasses are heavy and symmetrical in form. The stems have one or more knops and the feet are either domed or conical, folded to add extra strength and stability. The designs were inspired by contemporary baroque furniture. Knops on early balusters are relatively plain, but more elaborate forms emerged during the 18th century - the 'cylinder' and 'egg' forms are considered the rarest and therefore the most valuable of these. However, genuine baluster glasses are rarely decorated. If you come across a baluster glass with engraved decoration, it is likely that it was added after the glass was initially made.

Balusters may not fetch as high a price as Venetian goblets, but they still don't come cheap - you would need to pay several thousand pounds. They attract such high prices because many heavy glasses were melted down after the 1745 Excise Tax on clear lead-crystal, so they are a rare find nowadays.

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