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What is a

Glassware Flaw

Technical Resources

This information was published for the 1951 retailer.

Sales personnel who use these simple answers to a common complaint
find that returns are reduced and selling is easier

If your customer figuratively puts a microscope or micrometer on the home furnishings accessories she buys, in a search for so-called "flawless perfection," the customer is looking for the impossible. Absolute perfection does not, and cannot, exist. Instead, the retail sales staff should impress on the customer that she can enjoy the inherent beauty and utility of made-in-America accessories, secure in the knowledge that they are among the best to be found anywhere in the world.

A case in point is handmade American glassware. For over 200 years this product of highly-skilled and painstaking artisans has held an honored place in homes everywhere. But fine as this glassware is, scientifically perfect selection is no more possible than with any other article of commerce or art.

To give your sales staff authoritative answers to the questions of those customers who may expect "perfection," here is information which will be valuable in selling the consumer:

Technical Resources
Q.: Is American handmade glassware really made by hand, or merely hand finished?
A.: As one of the nation's leading glassware producers puts it: "Handmade American glassware is exactly that. It is created by the skilled hands and eyes of many men and women working as teams. It is amazing that such a 'high degree of perfection can be attained; that piece after piece coming from any individual or group of glass blowers or pressers is so nearly and accurately a duplicate of every other piece."

Q.: Are all pieces in a set exactly alike?
A.: No. There are slight variations in diameter, height and other dimensions among any group of tumblers, goblets, plates or other articles of glassware. These variations are so slight they usually can be detected only with a micrometer-rarely by the naked eye. This is the hallmark of fine hand craftsmanship.

Q.: Does a "seed" or bubble in glassware constitute a "flaw"?
A.: No. One of these tiny "seeds" or bubbles the size of a pinpoint may sometimes be observed in a piece of glassware when it is examined minutely against a strong light. A "seed" is a bubble formed by gases when chemicals are united in the fusing or melting of the raw ingredients. This is comparatively rare in handmade American glassware, because the chemicals and other ingredients are of great purity, and they are blended as carefully as anywhere in the world.

Q.: What is a "cord"?
A.: A "cord" is an almost invisible difference in density in the glass, caused during the fusing of the molten glass. It is only visible to the naked eye by reason of the fact that, owing to the variation in density. it reflects light. When a goblet which has a "cord" is filled with water, no light is reflected and the so-called flaw disappears.

Q.: Is a mould-mark a sign of imperfection?
A.: No. However, a too-prominent mould-mark or ridge in a piece of pressed glass is an indication of careless workmanship. In fine quality hand-pressed glass, mould markings are so imperceptible as not to constitute a socalled flaw.

Q.: What is a shear-mark?
A.: A shear-mark is a slight puckering of the glass made when the artisan snips off excess molten glass when working the piece, as for example the end of the handle of a pitcher.

Q.: Why can't these small irregularities be entirely eliminated from handmade glass?
A.: For the reason that the glass is handmade. No matter how deft the touch of the sensitive hands of glassware craftsmen, it is impossible to entirely eliminate these variations, which are not properly classed as flaws. Nor can it be done by machinery. Glass is one of the most tricky substances known with which to work. It is said that even the finest diamond, examined under a jeweler's lens, rarely shows up with absolute perfection.

Q.: How can the salesperson and the customer fudge the quality of glassware?
A.: One of the best ways is to be sure the ware bears the label of a reputable American firm. Not only is this an assurance of quality, but it also means that you can usually obtain extensions or replacements in your pattern.

Another test is: Look for clarity and luster by holding the piece against a pure white background. High quality glassware is sparkling clear, while inferior grades have a cloudy bluish or greenish tinge.

Good quality glass has a permanent polish or luster which results from repeated fire polishings.

Rap the bowl of a piece of stemware with your fingers. If it is a fine handblown glass, it rings with clear musical tone. The best of blown glassware contains lead, for clarity and purity. Another name for lead glass is flint glass.

Good quality pressed glass-such large pieces as plates, candelabra, bowls -contains lime, to give it toughness and strength. Therefore, when you tap it, its tone is muffled, not resonant. While lime glass does not have deep resonance, yet this by no means lessens its desirability.

Look for smooth edges. Glassware edges should be even, never rough and scratchy. In handcut crystal, the design should be sharp and accurate. If etched, each tiny detail should be distinct and clearly defined.

Q.: What about colored glass?
A.: Colored glassware should show an even tint when you hold it up to daylight or electric light. The darker colored glass, such as ruby, emerald, or amethyst, should show a deep glow and sparkle when held up to the light.

Q.: What about stemware?
A.: When choosing stemware, look for a firm joining of base and stem, and of bowl and stem. It should have well-balanced symmetrical shapes with graceful bowls, stems and feet that harmonize. Awkward, poorly-balanced shapes indicate inferior manufacture. Ornamentation should follow the shape of the piece, should not be too heavy and there should be no glaring breaks in design.

Finally, although no glassware is absolutely free from waves, specks, bubbles and tool marks, you can be sure that the highest quality has relatively few, and that these are not obvious, but are only visible under closest scrutiny.