If you look through this week’s Exhibit Highlight, the world will become a haze of ruby. If you look at this week’s Exhibit Highlight, your mouth will drop open slightly and you will dream of warm summer nights and wine or cool lemonade. The Exhibit Highlight for this week is a beautiful collection of wine glasses, and a matching carafe with stopper. The collection is two wine glasses, each made of red glass and decorated with a delicate pattern of grapes and leaves, with a ring on the stem and standing about eleven centimeters high. The carafe has a similar grape pattern, with a glass stopper and the pattern cut into it. They are made of Bohemian glass, hugely popular in the 1800’s before sinking into obscurity as other glass techniques were created.
The pieces of the week were donated to the Andover Historical Society in 1960 with a large collection of glassware by Priscilla Blackhouse Wilkinson. The pieces are from circa 1885. As mentioned earlier, the wine glasses and carafe are made of Bohemian glass. Bohemia was a large part of central Europe including the Czech Republic and several other countries. The glass made in the area known as Bohemia was famous in the 1800’s, but by 1890 it had died out as other glass from around the world became popular. People in Bohemia made glass before the nineteenth century, but it was in the early 1800’s they began to make good quality colored glass products, including vases and glasses.
Bohemian pieces were famous for their color, mostly ruby and sometimes blue or green. Ruby refers to a deep red color, of which the pieces on display at the Historical Society are a good example. They also included wonderful cut patterns on their pieces, and their pieces quickly spread across Europe and around the world. At first, colored glass and the effort to make it were very expensive, but eventually a new technique was discovered in which a clear layer of glass was covered in a thin layer of color, making it less expensive.
The pieces on display now are worth taking a look at, and if you look closely, you can see how good the workmanship is and why this style of glass was so universally popular in the 1800’s.