Antique Venetian Glass


2015-06-26 11:18:14

Antique Venetian Glass

Antique Venetian glass is a type of collectible glassware characterised by ornate and colourful design.

History And Description

Venetian glassware was established as a craft using techniques unique to Venice, by the middle of the 13th century. However, in 1291, the Venetian Republic ordered the destruction of all foundries, because of the risk of fire to the eleborate wooden structures of the city.

The glassworkers and artisans moved to nearby Murano, where they became some of the leading citizens, given privelages normally reserved for the nobility, due to the costly nature of the glassware they produced and the fame it brought to the region. A drawback was that glassworkers were not allowed to leave the Venetian Republic, but some did leave, and took the characteristic "Venetian" techniques to other Italian cities and other European countries.

Techniques pioneered in Venice and still practiced by glassmakers of the region today include enameled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicoloured glass (millefiori), milk glass (lattimo), beads, and imitation gemstones made of glass.

Early Venetian glassware was noted for being particularly clear. This was of value, as most European glassware prior to the 12th Century was coarse, bubbly, and tinted green, a natural effect of iron deposits in the sand used in production. Venetian glass was made using high levels of Sodium, which ensured the glass remained plastic for long enough for the maker to work the material into decorative shapes.

Guide For Collectors

The fragility of glass has ensured that in general, costly pieces, which were carefully kept by their original owners due to their percieved value, are more likely to have survived the centuries intact than items which had a lower original price. While exquisite, the earliest examples of the craft remain rare.

Later examples of Murano ware, in particular 18th and 19th century items are more easily sourced. Perfume bottles, lotion containers, mirrors, and other items for the boudoir were produced in large numbers during this period and brought as gifts to Northern Europe as travel in Italy became fashionable. offers worldwide delivery on international sales without auction. However, because Venetian glass-making techniques were widely imitated, it important to learn which pieces are genuine "Murano" from the desired period. Venetian Glass: Confections in Glass 1855-1914, by Sheldon Barr, offers much useful information and advice for those contemplating collecting Venetian glassware. provides a directory of organisations for enthusiasts and collectors, where interested people can exchange news of auctions and finds.

Notable Sales

Prices vary widely. In September 2005, a table-top decoration of irridescent Venetian glass was sold by Sotheby's in Venice, for £120,000, the highest price paid for one such single item.

A pair of etched Venetian glass mirrors were sold by Neals, in August 2007, for $8500.

A set of eight 19th Century engraved wine glasses was sold for $650 by Bill Hood & Sons.

In February 2005, a pair of millefiore perfume bottles sold for $110 by Uniques and Antiques.

A pair of Ruby Glass candle-holders was sold at auction by Austin Antiques, for $125 in October 2009. Vintage items as opposed to antique are also widely available.


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