Steve Duke: All right. 206-1580 is our number, and if we don’t get a caller pretty soon, we’re going to go to our quiz. You know, I actually had a couple of people come in, and they said, “I’m keeping track. Do we win anything?” The only thing I can tell you is, “You win some knowledge, and it certainly comes in handy.”
I would like to tell people that right now that I am looking for all kinds of antique wristwatches. We always buy Rolexes, all kinds of sports models and things, but I’ve got one of my dealers in from Germany. He’s a very good buyer, which means I can pay more for items. I’m going to only have to hold them for a short period of time, because I can sell them to him really quickly. Any kind of Omega wristwatches – older Omega wristwatches, chronographs, or any kind of multifunction watches – whether it’s Omega or any of the other better or higher-quality watches, we can use them right now, and Rolexes as well – any of the vintage stuff. Stuff from the 50s and before, whether it’s gold – we actually would like to buy a lot of stainless steel stuff right now, because the stainless steel brings a better premium – like we’ve talked about before – in Europe than the gold does, only because a lot of people are afraid to wear gold. They don’t want their watches to look like anything expensive. So right now, like I said, if you know anybody who’s got any vintage wristwatches, they may have shown them to you. They may have inherited them. If they say to you, “Where can I get rid of this thing?”, for the next week, right now, I’m paying crazy money for nicer wristwatches – antique stuff. It doesn’t have to be running. That’s certainly going to help if it is running, but if it’s not, please come and see us.
I would also like to put something on Tradio that I’m selling. I bought a bunch of parts for a 1964 Corvette. I’ve got some brake calipers. I got basically a whole rear end. A bunch of different parts and things like that, and if anybody can use the whole package, I would sell it for like 800 bucks. You will find that that’s an extremely cheap price. As I was going through the warehouse, I found them and remembered that I had them. It’s time to make that stuff go away, rather than lugging it over to the tent sale that we’ll be having on March 21st. Don’t forget that one.
Without too much further ado, Kenny, you’re representing the masses of people out there, and I’m going to shoot these questions over to you.
Ken: Excuse me, I’m opening my Jeopardy app right now.
Steve: I could tell that. I saw you ever there. You came up with some good answers last week, and I realized that you’re using your smart phone over there . . .
Ken: [laughs]. Only after the fact.
Steve: . . . Which wasn’t so smart, because I could see you doing it.
Ken: Yes, I . . .
Steve: What one factor helps to tell us the age of a piece of glass? Would it be the date that was inscribed into the glass, the color of the glass, or the weight of the glass?
Ken: I would say the weight of the glass.
Steve: You would?
Steve: I would have to say that you were correct. I’ve told you about glass, and I’ve been collecting glass for 40-something years. I enjoy it. The one way that you can actually tell the age of a piece of glass – if you’re at a garage sale or a flea market or something – and you walk up, and here’s a vase that looks like it should be pretty heavy, but when you pick it up you’re very surprised at the lightness of that piece of glass. The reason being, later on, they found that if they put more lead into a piece of glass, it would make it sparkle. It would refract the light more, and it would also make that piece of glass much heavier, so when you’re looking at a piece of glass, whether it’s colored or whether it’s clear or anything else, if you pick it up and it seems to be a lot lighter than it really should be in weight, it’s going to tell you pretty much that it’s an older piece of glass.
When you’ve picked up this piece of glass, and you look on the bottom, and it has a circle in the center of it that looks almost like a doughnut, would this probably tell you that it was a more expensive piece of glass when it was made, or a cheaper piece of glass? Ken, I’m talking to you.
Ken: I’m sorry. Could you repeat the question?
Steve: I know you were . . . Oh no, because I just made it up.
Steve: If you’re looking at a piece of glass, and you turned it over, and on the bottom, right in the middle, there was a grind mark that almost made it look like a doughnut, would it be a more expensive piece of glass, or a less expensive piece of glass when it was produced?
Ken: I’m going to just guess, and say a more expensive piece of glass.
Steve: What you’re seeing was a piece of glass that wasn’t molded. It was hand-blown. The piece of glass that’s attached to the piece that they’re blowing is called a blowpipe, and generally, what you’ll see is that they snap that blowpipe off the bottom. It would be jagged. What they do is they grind that. That centerpiece is called a pontil – P-O-N-T-I-L. What it does is it tells you that it was a hand-blown piece. Generally it would be a more expensive piece of glass if it was an older piece of glass.
Ken: Ding ding ding.
Steve: But . . .
Ken: But . . .
Steve: . . . Here’s the caveat – if it was a newer piece of glass – and a lot of it’s done in Mexico – number one, it would be a heavier piece of glass. It might have a ground pontil. Sometimes what they’ll do is they’ll just take a torch and hit that where the blow pipe was, and melt that glass away as well a lot of times, on your Mexican pieces that were hand-blown, but again, the labor’s much cheaper. It wasn’t as much a quality piece of glass. The weight will probably be heavier, but sometimes you’ll find a ground pontil on that piece of glass. In general, if you turn a piece of glass over – you look and see a ground pontil – that little grind spot in the center of the glass on the base, it was a better piece of glass. It was a more expensive piece of glass at that time.
So far, you’re two for two. Or did I have three?
Ken: No, we had two.
Steve: Okay. Now here’s one. You may want to use your phone for this one, because this is a little tougher. When we talk about cut glass, what celestial occurrence contributed to the decoration that artisans would use to decorate that glass with? Was it the eclipse of the moon? Was it Halley’s Comet? Or was it the solar eclipse of 1887?
Steve: This is a historical question, and as I did this, I thought to myself, “God, no wonder my students hated me.” You’re pondering this one, aren’t you?
Ken: Well, yes. Give me the three answers again.
Steve: Okay. When we talk about cut glass, what celestial occurrence contributed to the decoration that artisans would use to decorate the piece of glass? Was it the eclipse of the moon? Would it be Halley’s Comet? Or would it be the solar eclipse of 1887? I guess what you have to do is sort of picture in your mind what kind of a decoration with each one of those could produce.
Ken: I’m going to go with Haley’s Comet.
Steve: I’m afraid you’ve gotten that one correct as well.
Ken: Wow, really?
Steve: Halley’s Comet came by in 1910. The American Brilliant Cut Glass period lasted from the 1890s to about 1915, and the occurrence of Halley’s Comet was something that was seen all over the world. It was a big thing to see a comet. The artisans would take what they visualized as that comet coming through, and they produced what they called a pinwheel pattern. It was a sort of a star design – with little streaks coming off each point of that star, like what a pinwheel would look like, and also what to an artisan might appear in their mind, as a comet coming through space. Here’s what it looked like – it was a big flash of light, and they transferred that image to a piece of glass. We find that that pinwheel pattern began at around 1910, when Halley’s Comet came through. It’s always kind of interesting in my mind – when you see something, and you go, “How did they come up with this thing?” A lot of the cuts that we see on cut glass are very geometric, and then out of the blue, all of the sudden you start to see this pinwheel pattern. It came from the fact that Haley’s Comet had come through. So you’re doing quite well today.
Ken: Thank you.
Steve: What made American Brilliant Cut Glass more expensive and desirable than pressed glass? Was it that pieces were hand-cut? They were hand polished, and they had a higher lead content.
Ken: All of the above.
Steve: That’s correct.
Steve: You are on a roll today. Dude! I’m proud of you. I guess sitting here just . . .
Ken: Osmosis. It might not look like I’m paying attention.
Steve: I know, and that head is shining today, dude.
We talk about American Brilliant Cut Glass – somewhere in the 1890s to about 1915 or 1916 was the end of the American Brilliant Cut Glass period. When we talk about cut glass, basically, we’re talking about clear glass. Some of it did have some coloration added to it, but most of that was European as opposed to American. But the one thing that separated the American Brilliant Cut Glass was the fact that each of these blanks – the uncut piece of glass that they start with is called a blank – all of these were hand-blown.
Later on they found that by adding more lead content to it, it was tougher to blow it and get a nice piece – a nice shape, but by doing that, it made it a little easier for them to cut, but it also gave them a lot more sparkle – a lot more brilliance to the glass. Hence the name American Brilliant Cut Glass.
All this glass was hand-polished, which means what they would do is they would take this clear glass blank, and someone would sit there with a stone on a cutting wheel and actually cut all of these little patterns into that cut glass – into the glass blank, to start with. Then it was fired, and then it was hand-polished. They would add some heat to it, turn around, and then go back through and hand-polish it. It was a process that they would do with the heat.
What a lot of the other companies would normally do – they would just take these machine-cut pieces or machine-pressed pieces of cut glass or pressed glass, and dip them into an acid wash. This would clear all of the cutting residue off of the piece of glass, and it just wouldn’t give it as nice a shine or finish whatsoever. This is the big difference between the American Brilliant Cut Glass.
Was glassware ever signed? Yes, or no?
Steve: “Yes” is the answer. Now, how was it signed? Did they use a Sharpie? Did they use acid? Or did they use a special ball-point pen? [whistles “Jeopardy” tune]
Ken: [laughs] Whoa.
Steve: He has surprised himself, ladies and gentlemen.
Ken: The last three answers I’ve surprised myself.
Steve: Go ahead. Put that clapping on there. Go ahead. You deserve that.
[recorded clapping sound]
Steve: I don’t even know if that was enough, but we’ll let it go.
Ken: I feel like Ken Jennings.
Steve: Actually, they would take hydrofluoric acid and a stamp and put that onto a piece of glass. Now, we’ve are talking about American Brilliant Cut Glass. Actually a lot of the cut glass pieces were signed by the various companies that would make them – Hawkes or Sinclaire. There were a bunch of other ones out there. They would take hydrofluoric acid and put on a little stamp. It’s difficult to see it.
Lots of times I’ve had people come in with a piece of cut glass, and they’ll say, “You know, this is supposed to be a really good piece because you can tell what company made it.” And I say, “You mean it’s a signed piece of cut glass?” –“Well, I don’t know what it is, but my mother had it, and she told me that you could tell the company that made it.” Lots of times we can tell the company that made it by the pattern. Certain companies were known for their particular patterns. Sinclaire did a real fancy pattern.
Ken: You always see that name, though.
Steve: Lots of times if it’s a bowl or a dish of some sort, if you turn that, generally in the middle of that piece of glassware where there aren’t any cuts, it will be on the inside. The cuts are going to be on the outside. If you turn it just right, into the light, and you play with it a little bit, and you move it around, lots of times you’ll get that reflection where you can actually see that glass signature. It certainly adds value to the glass to be able to know who did it.
Lots of times Stueben would do that, and they did it some on some of their old stuff and they continue to do it now. The difference is some of the glassware not only was etched with acid, but when it was still not quite completely solid – it was still somewhat molten – they would take a steel scribe, and actually go through and write the name on the bottom of the piece of glass as well. So it wasn’t a ballpoint pen, it was a steel scribe. Some of them in later days, rather than using a scribe when it was molten, after it was done would use a diamond-tipped pen, and they would sign these.
Now the difference is, lots of times we find fakes out there – like we’ve talked about before, any time something becomes collectible and it’s worth a lot of money, there is going to be somebody out there who’s going to try and take somebody’s money away from them. We find on a lot of the art glass, sometimes the signatures are inscribed with a diamond-tipped pen. What we do – we look at that with our loupe that I’ve talked about – with some sort of magnification device, whether it’s a big magnifying glass or the kind of piece that you hold up to your eye to give you magnification. What we do is we look to see in that signature if there are little chips all along the signature, because what it tells you is it’s splintering the glass to a certain extent. Some companies, if you see that signature, they never did it like that. They did it when their pieces of glass were somewhat molten.
Ken: So it was smooth.
Steve: It was smooth, and you won’t find any of this chipping. It’s important to know what you’re looking at, and deal with someone who knows what they’re buying and selling, if you’re a collector. You don’t buy a piece that if a dealer won’t stand behind it and say, “I guarantee this to be genuine with a money-back guarantee,” then you might want to be a little skeptical of who you’re dealing with.
Can we date glassware by the artist’s signature? Yes, or no?
Ken: Yes. I would say “yes”.
Steve: You’re correct again. I’m glad we’re not doing this for quarters.
Steve: We find that a lot of different glass companies changed their signatures – the way their monogram was . . .
Ken: That’s not how I came up with the answer.
Steve: I know. Over a time frame, they would change. You’d probably assume that the artist got older, and their signature changed.
Ken: Yes, naturally changed.
Steve: Yes, you didn’t think I knew that. I’m in your mind. I’m in your head.
Ken: Go ahead, Lovejoy.
Steve: We find that a lot of times the companies would change. Sometimes they would have a circle around their signature. Sometimes it would be impressed into the glass. Sometimes it would be raised out of the glass. This helps us to date a lot of the pieces, especially Fenton glass, which is a type of art glass as well – a little more modern, but their emblem – their logo changed a bunch over a period of years.
Tiffany glass did the same thing. Some of those you’ll find were in script, some of them in block letters, some of them would have an “x” on the bottom along with a serial number, which would mean it was experimental – either color or shape.
A lot of times if you would see a piece like this – I’ve been to shows where here’s people who had art glass and some of their stuff was priced very good. Some of it was extremely high. Some of it, you’d pick it up and they didn’t realize what they actually had, and this again is where knowledge comes into play. If you have the right knowledge at the right time and the right thing, you wind up making yourself some good money.
Over the years, I’ve known what to look for on signatures of different pieces of glass, and by doing so, lots of times even though a dealer was knowledgeable, they weren’t quite sure of what they had. It was priced where, as a buyer, you could certainly make more money if you bought it.
What separates antique glass from regular glass? Is it its price? Is it the stores that sell it? Or is it the methods used to produce it?
Ken: The methods used to produce it.
Steve: That would be correct, as well. Man!
Ken: You might think I know a lot about glass, folks. I’m just dynamite at multiple-choice.
Steve: I’m thinking he is a glass maven, right here.
We look at the design, the shape of that particular piece of glass. We look at the color. Lots of times, your older glass, your hand-blown things – you don’t find that much of the color red in glass. It was hard to get that type of the pigment – that oxide, to give it a nice red color.
A lot of times the iridescence – and we talk about iridescence – we talk about, if you looked at a drop of oil, and you dropped it into a glass of water or in a puddle that you might see at a gas station, and you’ll notice that shimmering look on the surface of it – that’s iridescence. That’s what we’re talking about, and you’ll find this on a lot of types of glass. Sometimes it will mean it’s a more expensive piece of glass. Sometimes it was very common.
There is a type of glass called stretch glass, and it’s actually pulled. It’s blown glass, and it’s got little stretch marks all over it. You’ll find a lot of iridescence on this, because this is one of the things that you’ll see on stretch glass. It’s just something that they did. It was a method that they produced on that. So, it depends on the type of glass – who the manufacturer was, who it was made by, and when it was made, whether that iridescence really adds value to it, but in general, I’m going to say if you see the iridescence, it’s something that you want somebody to look at for you and qualify whether it is or isn’t an expensive piece of glass.
Known for producing fine art glass and stained glass, what did the initials “LCT” stand for? Does it stand for Lewis Comfort Tiffany, Lucius Carl Tipton, or Lawrence Campbell Tuftin?
Ken: I’m going to get with the first one.
Steve: And what would your first one be?
Ken: The one with Tiffany on it.
Steve: Oh, the one with Tiffany. Okay.
Steve: The initials “LCT” on a piece of glass or silver or stained glass would stand for Lewis Comfort Tiffany . . .
Steve: . . . Who was an artisan at that time, and well-known for producing some of the finest and most expensive art glass known. Exhibited a lot of his stuff in around 1893, at the Colombian World’s Fair. There were some other fairs around 1900. He won the grand prize in Paris for the exhibiting of his art glass, so this was something that he was known for.
We talk about looking for signatures on glass – if you see that LCT, generally it was printed, but again, this is one that’s really easy to counterfeit. They’ll take that glass and the diamond-tipped scribe, and put that on a piece of art glass that looks like it could possibly be Tiffany, but it isn’t. There’re lots of other artisans. They would travel from company to company – Duran, Steuben, Quizzell, Tiffany –you had the same work-masters go back and forth.
Sometimes you may have a piece of unmarked art glass from a well-known glass company, which is an expensive piece, and somebody will say, “Well if I put ‘LCT’ on the bottom, it’ll be even more expensive.” I’ve seen lots of pieces of Quizzell that are very similar to Tiffany, but Tiffany never made that particular art form – the shape of that particular piece, and you’ll see an LCT mark on the bottom of it. It detracts a certain amount because someone tried to counterfeit it, unknowing that they actually had an expensive piece of art glass. It would have been better if they didn’t have a fake, counterfeit “LCT” Tiffany signature on it, for the simple reason that now you have to apologize for the piece. You can say to an art glass collector, “This is a piece of Quizzell, but it has a fake Tiffany signature on it.” It’s like, “I’m very excited,” and then they’re let down because it’s good, but it’s not real good.
Ken: But, most people don’t know that, so if you get the deal, then you can tell everybody you paid three times as much.
Steve: Exactly right. Now, what was Tiffany’s first business? Was it a dress shop, a stationery store, or was he a blacksmith?
Ken: I would say blacksmith, because that would be a natural lead-in to glass blowing.
Steve: Exactly. You’re wrong.
Steve: We got him!
Believe it or not, his first store was a stationery store, and he had a partner. They opened up in 1837, and later on they branched out into jewelry and sterling silver, diamonds and settings like that. In 1886, Tiffany came up with his idea for what we now call a Tiffany setting. When we see just a diamond solitaire – that six-prong setting on a very simple band was developed by Tiffany. He developed it because you could put a diamond in there, and you could get a lot of light coming into it, so that the diamond had its maximum amount of brilliance, as well as being secure. This is another thing that we don’t realize that he’s known for.
Now, in the late 1800s – this is just a tidbit of information for you out there – Tiffany met a fellow by the name of Philip Arnold, and John Slack. Philip Arnold brought him diamonds that Tiffany overpriced because supposedly they had come from a mine in Wyoming. This was something that was unbelievable, and Tiffany told his friends about it. They had a bunch of investors who put their money together and bought this diamond mine in Wyoming. Later on, they found out that the only reason there were diamonds in there was because Arnold would go to Europe, buy pieces of diamond jewelry, take the old cut diamonds out, or the rough cut diamonds, and scatter them around in this mine. Tiffany and his friends really didn’t go there and do their homework, and wound up losing a substantial amount of money. Lo and behold, the next thing you know, Slack became an undertaker – that was Arnold’s cousin. He became an undertaker, and he owned a casket company. What do you think Arnold became? A successful banker, with all the money that he made on that sale of a worthless diamond mine. He was later sued by a lot of the investors and Tiffany, and he settled out-of-court, but it just goes to show you that . . .
Ken: There’s a sucker born every minute.
Steve: . . . Every minute, whether you’re Lewis Comfort Tiffany and if you’re a wealthy investor or not, so again, knowledge is important. You should know what the heck you’re looking at, what you’re buying, and deal with people who you really know.
Just a couple more things on glass, as long as we’ve got a couple of minutes left. We talk about Murano glass, and probably some of our listeners perked up because they remember they bought Murano glass. Is Murano glass named after Fred Murano; Fred Murano’s wife, Nancy; or the town in Italy that produced it?
Ken: I was going to say the Nissan Murano, but let me go with the last one – the town in Italy.
Steve: Actually, that’s correct.
Steve: So you were . . .
Ken: I only missed one!
Steve: . . . Ninety-nine percent on this one.
Ken: I’m very proud of myself.
Steve: This week, you did very well.
Ken: Do I get a gold star on the refrigerator?
Steve: You get a gold star on the refrigerator. You get your own magnet . . .
Ken: Are you going to take me for an ice-cream cone [inaudible 50:51]?
Steve: . . . That says, “I participated in the Tradio Hot Line.”
Steve: Oh, University Quiz, and did well.
So, if anybody’s got any questions about any of the quiz questions that we talked about, I’ll be more than happy to field any of those questions now. We’ve got a couple of minutes left.
If you’d like to give us a call at 206-1580 because you’ve got some other items that you’d like to buy, sell, or trade, we’ve got a couple of minutes left.
I’d like to tell everybody, if you’re new, and you haven’t been to Westchester Gold & Diamonds, please stop in and see us. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. We probably have one of the largest selections of all types of jewelry in the area. We also deal in a lot of antique pieces and estate pieces.
Sometimes people say to me, “Well, what’s the difference between an antique piece of jewelry and an estate piece of jewelry?” By definition, an antique piece of jewelry has got to be a hundred years old. Well, we sort of interchange “antique” and “estate” pieces rather freely, because I’m not going to sit here and say to you that every piece of jewelry that you look at in our estate rings or our antique jewelry, which is generally filigreed-type of work. It could be white gold or platinum or whatever. Most of those were produced in the early 1900s – late 1800s, so those are going to be a hundred years old, but there’s stuff from the 20s but just barely gets there – they’re now a hundred years old.
When you go to the antique shows and stuff, you’ll see all these dealers, and they say, “Well, we deal in antique jewelry,” and they’ll show you stuff from the 50s, It’s not really antique, but it’s older style. It’s estate pieces. So I had this thing. One of my dealers came and said, “You have estate jewelry. You don’t have antique.” I said, “No, I’ve got antique.” He said, “Well, what do you call this?” And all of the sudden, they’re quizzing me as to whether I know what age that piece of jewelry came from.
It all boils down to the fact that we have a lot of estate pieces from the 60s and 70s. There’re a lot of different styles that were very big and bold from the 70s, that all of a sudden, when you look at the fashion magazines – they’re hot. So the big bold stuff that a lot of people say, “That’s ugly.” It wound up getting scrapped when gold was up. We try not to destroy a lot of pieces like that, and if you stop in, I think you’ll be very surprised at what we do have.
I’d like to thank everybody again for possibly taking the quiz with us, and listening to us all these years. We really appreciate it. We’d certainly like to see you at the shop. Stop in and see us at Westchester Gold & Diamonds. We’re in the Baers Plaza behind ABC Liquors.
Have Questions about your antiques, estate jewelry, collectibles or old treasures?
If you have questions for Steve Duke to answer about your jewelry, antiques or collectibles, just send a photo of the item and your question directly to Steve Duke at WGDiamonds@HotMail.com and Steve will research it for you and you may be contacted to participate in an upcoming Tradio episode. Be sure to include your name, email and phone number along with your question and email it to: WGDiamonds@HotMail.com
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Visit our Website: http://www.westchestergold.com
Westchester Gold and Diamonds is one of the largest buyers of gold, silver, diamonds, Rolex watches, antique and estate jewelry in southwest Florida.
As the premier jewelry store in Port Charlotte since 1974. We do custom design and we are able to duplicate many designs that you may have seen in your travels; often at a fraction of the price.
We accept your old diamonds and jewelry in trade, the same as cash.