Collecting glassware can be a richly rewarding past-time. Glassware can be both beautiful and practical and bring joy to its owners and to those who see it. Plus you can often use items from your collection in your everyday life, therefore gaining even more pleasure from your glassware collection. You can collect antique glassware through to modern glassware.
Whether you are collecting glass for personal pleasure or purchasing as an investment, always remember the collectors mantra: Condition, Condition, Condition. The value of each piece of glass is in direct proportion to the condition of the item. The only exception to this rule would be if the glassware was a one-of-a-kind piece or extremely rare example of a particular technique. Even then, you would expect to purchase the glassware at a substantial discount. Common items rarely sell well in damaged condition.
Beginning collectors often go for quantity rather then quality by buying everything in sight. If you are just starting out collecting glassware don't stress too much about it... as your collection grows your taste will evolve and you may choose to specialize in a particular style or period of glassware.
As your tastes change and your collection grows try to buy the best examples of your chosen style that you can afford. Stretch the budget a little if you can. Remember, quality is better than quantity and a quality item will hold or increase its value.
So, how to you recognize a quality glassware item? Buy and read books. There are many reference books available that focus on specific glassware manufacturers. The books will also help you focus on a particular style of glassware and you begin collecting. Learn which shapes are rare and which colors were produced in small quantities. Also watch for information on one-of-a-kind pieces. Always take your books with you when you go to shows so you can recognize a bargain.
The Internet offers many opportunities for glassware collectors to expand a collection, as you are no longer limited to visiting local shows and dealers. Check eBay and other auction sites on a regular basis to watch for items you'd like to add to your collection. And, remember, if there are pieces in your collection that you no longer want you can sell them on the internet and make space for (and money) for more desirable items for your glassware collection.
Now the question becomes, why even collect glassware?
1. Artistic Beauty
This is probably the most common reason for collecting glassware. Any glass that people would want to collect is beautiful in at least the owner's eyes - if not, why collect? People appreciate artistic perfection and its beauty. Collecting glassware is also a great way to decorate your home. For example, a bleak room can be lightened up by adding colorful glassware.
Granted, some types of glassware, such as studio art glass, are not meant to be used daily. Such glassware is greatly devalued once a scratch occurs. However, other types of glassware, such as stemware that are usually less expensive but nonetheless can be equally beautiful and special for the owner, can be used in everyday life. In this case, glass is a practical investment.
3. Good Investment for the Future
Quality art glass by renowned or emerging artists increases in value over time. Look out for new artists whose pieces are less expensive right now but will jump in price as they become more established in the industry. Or buy pieces from established artists who will soon retire. The fact that they will no longer make art glass will dramatically increase the value of their pieces. Limited editions are also a good investment since their rarity will only increase their value.
While the skills and mastery required of the artisan to make a piece of glassware varies greatly (if it is made by artisans - after all, there are factory produced glassware), most types of glassware collected are unique in some way. Often, each piece is created entirely by hand by artisans that have been specializing in the glass blowing and making process for years.
Glassblowing is a long-standing tradition. From ancient Egypt and Rome to contemporary glass studios, each era and region has its own characteristics and history. Nevertheless, the art of glassblowing has survived almost unchanged for 6000 years. This is also one of the reasons that so many museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the Corning Museum, and the Chrysler Museum of Art, own their share of glass collections. Glass-collecting has lots of interesting history to it, which is in itself fun.
So not only can you own unique art pieces that could be used daily or function as investments, but these pieces are also full of history and are just great to look at!