Whether your heart melts over the soft sweet pastels of Depression-era glassware, or your eyes widen at the bold, bodacious colors of carnival glass, it's a guarantee that somewhere out there is a style that suits your tastes and maybe brings back childhood memories. In this first part of a two-part series, we'll explore how to collect, use and care for everyday glasses and stemware, then next month we'll turn our attention to fun barware, just in time to ring in the new year. Vintage glassware runs the gamut from gossamer-thin, delicate crystal to chunky and hefty midcentury and atomic-era glasses, from tiny juice glasses to oversize goblets and tumblers. This article was originally published by Busy Bee Trader in their December 2020 issue.
Collecting vintage glassware
It's no secret that setting tables with matching china, silver and glassware has largely fallen out of favor. Modern dinners don't lend themselves to fussing with "high maintenance" tableware, and who wants to fret about chipping or breaking one piece and not having enough to completely set your table the next time?
However, turning our backs on strictly matched sets doesn't mean getting rid of all your formal glassware. Fashion-forward hosts and hostesses are mixing and matching colors and patterns to create fun, informal tablescapes.
And that's great news if you have a collection, or you want to start one - it's easy to find great prices on cast-offs at estate sales, thrift stores, or maybe your parent's attic. And you don't have to buy them in sets of 6 or 8 - a few of each will do. And if one breaks....well, don't cry over spilled milk or wine. Just use it as an excuse to find a replacement you love as much or more than the one you lost.
Want to brighten your mornings with a thousand rays of liquid sunshine? Serve your juice with a sweet set of little juice glasses.
You can find matching pitcher and glass sets, or treat your inner kid to drinking milk or juice (or even a bloody mary) from a "swanky swig" - these sturdy small glasses were often sold as jelly jars or premiums in cereal boxes. They come in a variety of descaled designs, from florals to cartoon characters and graphic designs.
Caring for your vintage glassware
No matter if your favorite glassware sports bright decals or is hand-etched with gold rims, hand-washing is best. Dishwashers tend to blast too hard on vintage glassware, and if your water is hard, it will leave water spots. If you use a citrus-based dishwasher additive, it can wear off paint and decals over time. So crank up some Michael Buble or Frank Sinatra and take a few minutes to swish your favorite glasses in some warm soapy water, rinse them well and hand-dry them.
Display them where they can be seen, especially if they are bright colored. Who can help but smile at an amazing rainbow display? Curating a collection based on a few favorite colors will allow you to pick up multiple pieces and shapes while maintaining a cohesive look. Use a white or light colored display cabinet, mirrors and/or backlighting to play them up even more.
Stay tuned - next month, we will explore the fun and fantastical shapes and sizes of glass barware, along with all the other tools that will raise your new year's celebration up to suave and sophisticated heights. Cheers!
(All photos courtesy of Pinterest)
WHO WRITES THIS STUFF?
I'm Terry Lea, owner of Re-Invintage Home, a vintage home goods shop just south of Nashville in Murfreesboro, TN. A lifelong passion for vintage picking led me to open a shop with my picking pal, Sherri in 2017. Come see us!