The land now known as the Czech Republic was called Bohemia until 1918, when it was incorporated into Czechoslovakia following World War I. Czechoslovakia became the twin nations of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993. Throughout all these changes, however, its distinctive style of glassware remained known as Bohemian. Some Bohemian glass is marked, making identification easier but not always easy, as only newer glass is marked "Bohemia." Style and decoration may help you identify Bohemian glass.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Magnifying glass
Look for basic shapes of the era. Bohemian glass style is often plain. The decoration may be extravagant but the design is shapely simple and stylish. During the Art Nouveau period, Bohemian glass reflected the curvaceous shapes of the day. By the 1920s, Art Deco style resulted in square and geometric shapes.
Examine your piece of glass for signs that it is hand blown. You may locate a pontil mark on the bottom or a cut rim. Much of Bohemian glass is hand blown as well as hand decorated.
Check the piece for added pieces of glass. Much of Bohemian glassware has rigaree or ruffles added in another colour. Flowers, prunts and fancy applied handles often identify Bohemian glass.
View your glass for detailed decoration and handwork. Bohemian glass often has hand-cut decoration on the glass or fine etching with exceptional detail.
Inspect for glass that looks like stone. Glass that looks like malachite or that has marble-like swirls is often Bohemian.
Expect colours of orange, black, green, yellow and purple to be Czech and Bohemian glass. Although this is not definitive, much of the glass production in these colours is Czech or imitation Bohemian glass.
Look for bright gold. Bohemian glass has a bright-gold fired-on finish on much of the work made for export. Newer pieces have a combination of raised enamel, often in five-petal flowers, and bright gold.
Anticipate that vintage or antique iridescent glass might be Bohemian. Loetz and Palme-Koenig produced quantities of iridescent glass. Green was the most popular colour.
Explore across the bottom of a piece that might be Bohemian glass with a magnifying glass. Hold the item to the light at eye level, turning to allow the light to reflect the base. Much of the Czech production has an etched mark.
Scan the base for a circular acid-etched mark "Czecho-Slovakia" or "Made in Chechoslovakia." The etched mark is not always complete, and appears as dullness on the shiny finish.
Examine etched or engraved glass for initials or words identifying the maker or the city, often appearing at the bottom centre or to the right of the design.
Tips and warnings
- Loetz or Lotz marked pieces with the Lotz name and "Austria." Moser often marked pieces with enamel in an obscure area.
- Bohemian glass imitations may be pressed coloured glass with similar decorative techniques. Japan imitated Bohemian glass after World War II, using paper labels for export.
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