Flash glass is the name given to glassware that was originally clear and “flashed” with a thin coat of color, usually red, but pieces are found in green, blue and yellowish-orange. These items fall into the pressed glass category and were very inexpensive when originally sold. The most often seen pieces were from the 1890-1915 period. With the flashing being thin, it was relatively easy to cut through it to the clear glass with an engraving tool. An itinerant artisan would go all over the country setting up at county fairs and other annual events. He would engrave anything you wanted on the piece of glassware. The ones that are most sought out by collectors are the ones that have the name of the town and a date engraved on it. Usually the date will correspond with an event in the town named on the item. Sometimes, the buyer would have “Mother” engraved on it and give it as a present. What could be put on it was endless, leaving us with every piece being truly unique.
People collect flash glass in a number of categories. As previously stated, the name of a certain city or town is at the top of the list. Some people collect certain items - such as glasses, cups, toothpick holders or small pitchers. A dated piece helps to place the item to a certain event. The quality of the engraving has a lot to do with some people’s interest in an item. Usually, the earlier the item, the better the engraving. In the Victorian 1890’s, a more skillful, decorative script was used. The first artisans that engraved flash glass had a truly skillful hand. As time went on, the engraving became more amateurish and the desirability to the modern collector lessened.