Vintage glass comes in many forms. But, first, lets discuss the term “vintage.” In collectibles and antiques, vintage is the term used for things produced in the past but not old enough to be antiques. As far as I know the cutoff for antiques is still about 100 years. So, anything produced in the Twentieth Century would be vintage. Frequently, vintage also implies used. If something is still in the original packaging and has not been used, is it vintage? Depends.
Vintage glasses, as in drinking glasses, may be very gently used and still look as if they have not. For these objects, vintage would seem to be more a reflection of the style of the glasses, like the 50′s cocktail sets or Tiki glasses. New Tiki merchandise is produced today, but the fact that its original heyday has come and gone gives these items their vintage label.
Vintage glass beads are beads that come from our mother’s or grandmother’s jewelry boxes. The beads themselves may be of a shape that is timeless, and the vintage applies to the form they take, like mourning beads. Or the beads may have been made 50 years ago and been lost in a warehouse until recently. These will also be described as vintage due to the time since manufacture instead of the mode of stringing or other associations.
In the case of Murano glass, which has been in production for hundreds of years, vintage may be used because the same techniques have been used for centuries and attributing the glass to any one period or maker is not possible. Where vintage becomes antique, and how one can tell is best left to experts. Murano glass products made today may be indistinguishable from those made over the centuries to the casual observer, so be very careful about paying extra for “old” when it comes to Murano glass. It really is a matter for experts to tell how old a piece is.
Vintage glass bottles are a great glass collectible. You can specialize in the color of the glass, when the bottle was made, where it was made, the maker of the bottle, or the product sold in it. Thus, an old Coke bottle may be of interest because of the pale green color, the shape, because it was used for selling Coke, or the maker and time period it was made. Each of these options will lead you into learning about commercial glass objects and the way they are/were made. Glass bottle is usually the first product of a new glass company, so you can find glass bottles made in the colonial days up to today. Some companies only make glass bottles for a while and move on to other products as their businesses survive their first years, other continue to produce bottles along with other products, and some glass bottle makers make only glass bottles. Learning which is which and how to recognize them can bring many hours of fun. There are many books on this subject, and lots of bottles to learn from.
Vintage glass include depression glass, carnival glass, glass souvenirs in many forms and types of glass, glass beads and buttons. There are an abundance of items for the kitchen and dining table as well as products that used to be sold in glass but are not now, whether for safety reasons. These include bath and beauty products, and food products like peanut butter, which are handled by youngsters, who drop things.
Look around and see if there isn’t something made of glass that is disappearing from the grocery or drug store shelves, and save a few. They will be vintage before you know it.