Antiques Column with Michael Dowse: Why art glass remains collectable

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Mount Washington was established by William Libbey in 1837 and after moving to New Bedford in 1870 began to produce American art glass and it was hugely successful. It made some remarkable ranges and patented many types of glass.

One such glass was Burmese glass, with a satin or plush finish. This finish was created by exposing the glass to acid and it is unique in its creamy yellow and peach colourings. The peach colouring comes from a second firing when the base of the piece stays cooler and areas at the top are heated to such an extent that the peach colour reverts back to yellow, giving a distinctive two-tone effect. The creation and recipe of Burmese glass was patented by Mount Washington in 1885. Over 300 shapes were created in the Burmese range and by 1888 the shapes and decoration had become more elaborate. Decoration usually consisted of enamelled or applied patterns. In 1886 the company patented a very simple glass,‘Peachblow’, sometimes referred to as Peachskin, which had a two-tone effect in pinks and greys. It never had the commercial success of the Burmese range and was only produced for two years, ironically making it very collectable today. One of the other ranges Mount Washington is most famous for is Amberina, often called simply Amber-Rose. The fame is due to a lawsuit with the New England Glass Company who also produced glass in this style and the two companies’ work is very difficult to distinguish between. Amberina is a clear coloured glass with added gold to create brilliant amber to red shading.

Art glass is very popular in salerooms today and Mount Washington ranges are on many people’s shopping lists.