Ask A Worthologist Question: Cut Glass Punch Bowl

Donna J. inherited a cut glass punch bowl from her great-grandmother. As far as anyone in the family could remember, it had never been displayed and spent all its time in a box in the attic. Donna would like to the value, as she is considering selling it.

Donna J. has a cut glass punch bowl that she inherited from her great grandmother, who had received it as a wedding gift before World War One. Looking for a value before deciding whether to sell it, or keep it she engaged WorthPoint’s “Ask a Worthologist” service. The question was forwarded to me. Here is her question:

“I inherited this punch bowl from my great-grandmother 20 years ago and it’s been stored away in the same box it came in all this time. Even though she received it as a wedding gift about 1900, my mother claims Great Grandma couldn’t have liked it very much, because as far as she knew, it had never been displayed and spent all its time in a box in the attic. As it has no sentimental attraction for me or my mother, I’d like to have it valued and possibly sell it. It has no marking I can see and it measures about 15 inches across and 19 inches tall.”

Based on the images you sendt along, this is a turn-of-the-19th-century Brilliant Period cut glass punch bowl. The term “Brilliant Period” refers to American cut glass made circa 1880 to 1914, a period when America was becoming the world leader in producing of cut glass. While cut glass actually goes back at least to ancient Rome, most modern cut glass post dates 1850, gaining popularity after pieces of Belgian and Bohemian cut glass were prominently featured at London’s famous Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851. Like many other decorative items shown during the Exposition, cut glass caught the public’s attention and created a demand for ever more elaborate patterns.

The Brilliant Period pieces are identifiable by their deep, elaborate cutting, curving lines and geometric patterns. Each company competed for its market share by developing and patenting new designs, that prior to the use of faster and more powerful electric tools, would have been too time consuming to produce on a large scale. Even so, the production of cut glass was still very labor intensive and the purchase of such pieces were for the “well to do” or for special occasions, such as weddings and anniversaries.

Values for cut glass depends a great deal on the maker, with examples that carry the mark of one of well known glass companies such as Libbey, Dorflinger and Sons, T.H. Hawkes or Hoare Glass Company being the most sought after. Unmarked cut glass tends to sell for a good deal less than marked examples, but the quality of the cutting and intricacy of the design also has a great bearing on the value. While this one is unmarked, it is a lovely piece cut in the hobstar and comet pattern; as good as any by the well-know makers. In the current market, comparable unmarked punch bowls of this quality often sell for more than $1,800.

Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.

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  1. Mary says:

    We have a similar one in our family. It is signed, however it is hard to see without turning the bowl every which way in good daylight and peering carefully at the edges for etched writing.