Thursday, March 31, 2011

Crackle Glass Fruit

Today I'm going to share a beautiful collection with you that doesn't even belong to me!  It actually belongs to my son.  Our family likes to wander through antique shops, flea markets, basically anywhere you can find old and interesting items.  A number of years ago, my son "discovered" crackle glass and began picking up pieces here and there.  So, for Christmas, his Dad and I purchased a couple of books about Crackle Glass* for him.  It's always  nice to learn the history of antiques that "strike your fancy."  Lo and behold, the book had a section on crackle glass fruit.  Up until then, we had not seen any crackle glass fruit and were excited to begin the search.  I say "we" because  it's always nice to find a special birthday or Christmas gift for him.  I was able to find some crackle glass fruit on-line from private sellers and also on ebay.  My son was actually able to find crackle glass fruit in antique shops.  It has been a fun search, and the fruit is absolutely beautiful.

A little history-  It is thought that crackle glass was first created in the 16th century by Venetian glass makers.  To create crackle glass, the glass blower plunges red hot glass into cold water, and then reheats and reblows the glass item.  This process creates multiple fractures, but the surface remains smooth.  It is reported that this crackling process was initially used to cover imperfections in the glass pieces.  Crackle glass continued to be created in Europe, then in the United States.  There were many glass companies in the United States, most of them in the West Virginia area.  They chose West Virginia because of its abundance of natural gas.  It is reported that most of the crackle glass was produced from the late 1930s to the early 1970s.  The most well-known glass companies in West Virgina that produced crackle glass were Bischoff, Blenko, Kanawha, Pilgrim, and Rainbow.  Because glass blowers tended to move from company to company, it is not always easy to determine which company made a crackle glass piece because they often produced the same pieces.  Please keep in mind that crackle glass products were only a small portion of the items made by these companies.  It is reported that the only company that still produces crackle glass, today, is Blenko.

My son's crackle glass fruit collection.

This amazing crackle glass pumpkin is approximately 6 1/2 inches tall and 6 inches wide.  Most crackle glass fruit is much smaller, as you can see in the first picture.  This amber pumpkin was made by the Blenko Glass Company, as it still has the sticker on it.  Pieces are more valuable if they still have their stickers, because most people immediately removed the stickers, and washed the fruit after purchase.
 
As you can see, this Emerald green crackle glass apple was made by Blenko, and has a fairly new sticker including a current phone number and website address.  I contacted the company and they told me that crackle glass fruit is not a part of their regular production, but that fruit has continued to be made.  Because of this sticker, this apple was probably made sometime from the late 1990s to the present.

From clockwise:  A cobalt blue crackle apple made by Blenko, a crystal crackle pear with green leaf- manufacturer unknown, an Emerald green lime with peanut shell crackle- manufacturer unknown, and a rose crystal apple-manufacturer unknown.  Obviously not all crackle fruit is "signed."  Companies sometimes pressed a design on the Pontil mark, or etched names on the bottom of the glass piece.

This is a cobalt blue apple made by the Blenko company.  The value of Crackle Glass is determined by the design, color, rarity, and quality.  Some of the colors were and are more expensive to make, therefore, remain more valuable today.  These colors include cranberry, ruby red, amberina, and cobalt blue.  Even though amethyst was not more costly to make, it is more collectible as people tend to prefer this color.  Also, smoke ( gray) was only made for about 10 years, so there are a limited numbers of pieces.  Crackle Glass fruit is highly collectible as it was usually not a part of a company's catalog and fewer pieces were made.


Emerald green peanut shell molded lime-  manufacturer unknown.

Clockwise:  Emerald green apple with clear stem- manufacturer unknown,  Ruby red apple- possibly manufactured by the Kanawha company, amberina tomato- manufacturer unknown, cranberry with yellow highlight apple- manufacturer unknown.

Sometimes it is more difficult to see the "crackle" in darker pieces, this apple is finely crackled and is beautiful in the sunlight.

Clockwise:  Emerald green apple- Blenko Company, amethyst apple- Blenko Company, cranberry apple- manufacturer unknown.  This emerald green apple is more valuable because it has the Blenko name and "hand" logo sandblasted on the bottom. This was done in 1959 and 1960.

Green crackle pear- manufacturer unknown.

Rose crystal pear- manufacturer unknown.

This view shows the different sizes of the crackle glass fruit.

This amethyst crackle glass apple sparkles in the sunlight.  As you can see, it has the Blenko sticker with the "hand" logo.  The Blenko Glass Company is still in operation and has a factory outlet store.  So, if you are ever in Milton, West Virginia, please check it out.

I just love this amberina tomato.  I personally think it looks more like a little pumpkin.  I don't know which piece of fruit is my son's  favorite...I would guess that he likes them all!

Crackle glass fruit sparkling in the sunshine.   As I said previously, my son has always admired hand blown glass.  In fact, he is now taking classes and learning this amazing skill.  I hope he gets a chance to try to crackle glass someday!

* Crackle Glass reference books:  Crackle Glass, and Crackle Glass Book II,  by Stan and Arlene Weitman.

2 comments:

  1. What a beautiful collection- I love the way the glass sparkles in the sunlight!

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  2. Wow....such a beautiful collection i really like these all specially the second and forth one is looking mind blowing thanks for sharing with us such a beautiful collection

    Glassware shopping

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