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The distinct glisten of glass crystal is an unmistakable sign of expert craftsmanship.
One of the most significant advances in glassmaking in the past several hundred years,
crystal glass is coveted both for its clarity and beauty.
Since the dawn of glassmaking, a perennial problem was that the glass itself was not
completely transparent. Glass, which is made from melted silica sand along with other
minerals and ingredients, was initially relatively opaque. This was not of great concern
for smaller decorative objects, but it limited the functional uses of glass such as the
creation of lamps and windowpanes.
It was not until the 15th century that Venetian glassmakers perfected the formula for
clarity, paving the way for the pursuit of increasingly sparkly glass. The Germans
experimented by using potash and lime in place of the traditional soda ash in their glass-
making mixture, which resulted in the remarkably clear Bohemian glass. But it was the
English who first added lead oxide to their glass formula to yield the characteristics of
crystal that are beloved today.
By the end of the 18th century, crystal glass had become the standard of glassmaking
sophistication. Great crystal houses such as Waterford and Hoya have ensured its
continued status by creating expert designs with utmost clarity and a sparkle that rivals
even the glisten of diamonds.
The earliest relatively clear glass on record was produced by the Romans in
the first century A.D.
Venetian glassmaker Angelo Barovier is often credited with inventing Venetian clear
glass, known as "cristallo," around 1450
Lead oxide added to the glass mixture renders the glass more pliable, which allows
glassmakers to create increasingly intricate designs