Advice for beginning glass collectors

One of the biggest challenges for collectors of Depression and elegant glass is the lack of labeling."Rarely does the glass have a name or mark," says John Fiore, president of the South Florida Depression Glass Club.

"You have to learn to know the pattern, color, shape and design to get a feel for it."

Here's his best advice for novice collectors:

Book it: Before you start buying, educate yourself on what's out there and what it costs. Some of Fiore's favorite books are "Collector's Encyclopedia of Depression Glass," by Gene and Cathy Florence (Collector Books, $19.95), "Mauzy's Depression Glass," (Schiffer, $24.95) by Barbara and Jim Mauzy, and "Elegant Glass: Early, Depression and Beyond," by Debby and Randy Coe (Schiffer, $29.95). Some books may be difficult to find. Check major bookstores and Internet sites.

Common patterns: Concentrate on those you can collect - patterns such as Sharon, Windsor and Block Optic. Forget patterns such as Parrot, which is rare and can cost $2,700 for a pitcher and $1,250 for an amber butter dish. Buy what you like, not what someone else tells you to buy.

Mine the sources: You can find Depression and elegant glass almost anywhere - antique shops, yard sales, thrift shops, swap shops, flea markets and on eBay and other Internet sites.

Be an inspector: Condition is important. Reject pieces with chips, scratches and internal cracks. Never buy cloudy glass; it's not repairable. But don't worry about manufacturer imperfections such as bubbles and straw marks (ridges in the glass from the mold). If you find stemware you love with little chips on the top, buy it. It can be reground and polished for about $5.

Know what it's worth: Never pay more than book value. Your books will tell you typical values. Don't pay list. Ask the seller what his best price is or whether he or she can do better.

Buyer beware: Look out for reproductions. There are subtle differences and the books will list them. Be suspicious if the glass looks too new or too perfect. Most glass that has been around for 60 or 70 years has some rough marks on the bottom edges. If it looks too perfect, check reference books to make sure it is the real thing.

600450 Advice for beginning glass collectors

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