Italian Empoli glass
Though the Venetian island of Murano is commonly positioned at the heart of Italian glassmaking, the town of Empoli, near the historic city of Florence, also has a long history of glass manufacture. It is thought that glass production in Empoli began, in earnest, during the 13th century, with the creation of both “Verde” glassware.
“Verde” glass, which is also known as green Italian glass, takes its name from the Italian word for green. Green coloured glass was a consequence of the mineral content of the local sand, which was used in the creation of much glassware in the region.
Notable Empoli manufacturers of green Italin glassware include Vetreria Toso Bagnoli, CLAVE, Vetreria Etrusca, Vetrerie Empolesi, and Vetrerie E Taddei & Co.
Following the success of Verde glass, colourful cased glass became a hit. Cased glass consists of a sheet of brightly coloured glass sandwiched between layers of clear, colourless glass. Cased glass also boasting an inner layer of opaque glass is known as “Lattimo”.
Well known producers of Cased and Lattimo glass include Stelvia, CIVE, Savia, Cristalleria Arno, and Cristalleria Fratelli Betti.
Empoli remains a centre of art glass production.
As imported glass is often only labelled “Made in Italy”, Empoli art glass can be tricky to identify. (See above for lists of notable manufacturers.)
George Hardy, Vimax, Enesco, Alrose and Guildcraft all imported glassware from Empoli.
Empoli art glass manufacturers created a vast array of glassware: vases, figural items, tumblers, bottles, paper weights and plates were all produced by different glass making firms.
Glass which dates from between 1920 and 1950 is considered the most collectible, although much older examples are still available.
Collectors are advised to familiarise themselves with the weight and “look” of genuine Empoli glassware before making a purchase, and, if spending considerable sums, to only ever buy from reputable dealers.
A pair of Verde Empoli mallard-bottles sold for $900 at Ivey Selkirk Auctioneers in May 2012.
A mixed lot of Italian art glass sold for $300 at Going, Going, Gone Auction Gallery in June 2009.
A large amount of Empoli art glass can be found for sale online. Prices vary, however, attractive examples can range from roughly $50 to $300.
Reputable dealers such as End Of History Shop in New York & Zainido Vintage in the San Francisco Bay Area, have a long history of dealing in Empoli art glass and assisting in identifying pieces in question.