Bohemian glass, named for the region of Bohemia in the Czech Republic where it is manufactured, is considered some of the best glass in the world. It is prized for its beautiful, jewel-tone colours and its brilliant cuts. However, pieces of Bohemian glass are often hard to identify because of a lack of specific markings. There are several avenues of research a collector can take in helping to authenticate a vase.
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What Bohemian crystal looks like. Bohemian glass is known for its multiple cuts and facets, but it is probably the colour of the pieces that are most recognisable. Colours found in Bohemian glass include transparent red, pink, cobalt blue, light blue, amber, and green. Also, the vases are often embellished with gold or enamel decorations.
Look for guidebooks. A first step should be a trip to a bookstore or library to look for collectors' guides that include pictures and descriptions of Bohemian glass. Some examples of books on Bohemian glassware include "Marks on German, Bohemian, And Austrian Porcelain: 1710 to the Present" by Robert E. Röntgen, "Lötz: Bohemian Glass 1880-1940" by Jan Mergl, et al, "Collectible Bohemian Glass, 1915-1945" by Robert Truitt, and "Bohemian Glass: 1400-1989" by Sylva Petrova, Jean-Luc Olivie, and Gabriel Urbanek.
Familiarise yourself with pieces of the glass in the marketplace. After studying the pictures in different collectors' guides, going to an antiques store and looking through their inventory will let you examine pieces in more detail. You can also look through the selections at online stores, such as Trocadero and Go Antiques, but it is often hard to see the details of the pieces in the pictures provided.
Network with other collectors. Collectors love to talk about what they collect and are often very knowledgeable. Joining a collectors club will put you touch with great resources that can help you to identify whether or not a vase is a true piece of Bohemian glass. One such club is Czech Collectors Association whose members are interested in Austrian, Bohemian, and Czechoslovakian decorative arts.
Hire an appraiser. If you believe your vase may be valuable, it could be worthwhile to hire an appraiser to identify and give an insurance value for your piece. Antiques store owners and museums can often refer professionals who specialise in crystal and glass. Other places to find appraisers include the American Society of Appraisers and the International Society of Appraisers.
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