Before glass was perfectly smooth and transparent, it had a character that showcased different eras beautifully. Made for design aesthetics, safety, or often from limited resources, take a look at some of the most sought after vintage and antique glass in homes throughout the eras:

Chicken Wire Glass

At Earthwise, chicken wire glass is by far one of the most sought after types of vintage glass. Before it was popular for design purposes, it gained notoriety during the Industrial Revolution for its durability and fire resistance. Made up of embedded mesh wire in plate glass, at one time it became a requirement in city buildings and schools to use this glass to comply with fire codes. 

When looking for original chicken wire glass, Paul our Director of Acquisitions, had this to say,

“A lot of people tend to like old chicken wire glass. You can tell its antique chicken wire glass if the loops in the wire are irregular in shape while new safety glass will have perfect wire patterns. People like the old stuff because it has a cool industrial look and also adds an extra layer of security.”

Want chicken wire glass for your home? Here’s what we have in stock.

Luxfer Glass

If you’re into vintage glass, you’ve likely seen a variety of purple Luxfer glass tiles lining antique shops across the country. Made by the Luxfer Co., the original patent dates back to the late 1800’s. Shops often used these tiles on an outside window to brighten up the inside of the building with the light reflecting prisms. Luxfer glass tiles were originally clear and through the decades they turned varying shades of purple.

Why purple? Though not thoroughly understood, people believe that the ultra-violet light starts an electron exchange between the manganese and iron ions. This changes the manganese compound into a form that causes the glass to turn purple. Not only in Luxfer glass, you’ll also see the purple transformation in antique glass door knobs and hardware.

If you’d like some of your own, we sell Luxfer glass on our Etsy.

Wavy Glass

Before the 1950s, glass windows had a distinctive wavy pattern. Making sheet glass meant blowing large bubbles of molten glass and splitting them open to flatten while they were still soft. The result of this technique created warps, marks, and lines throughout the glass.

Interestingly, many believe that antique wavy glass is actually a slow-moving liquid. The story goes that over the years the glass starts to pool at the bottom, making it thinner at the top. 

However, this is purely an urban legend according to Michael Cema, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT Glass Lab. “If left undisturbed at room temperature, glass doesn’t really change, no matter how old it is. All of the ripples and indentations you see in really old pieces of glass were created when the glass was created.”

Regardless, wavy, imperfect, handmade glass is an amazing feature of historical homes.

Coke Bottle Glass

This antique glass has many names! Also known as bubble glass, coke bottle glass, bullseye glass, or crown glass, this glass looks like the bottom of glass coke bottles. Long before coke bottles were invented, medieval glass makers used to blow into a hollow globe and then the molten glass was flattened by reheating and spinning the shape into a flat disk using various methods. 

Until the 19th century, crown glass was one of the most common processes of making glass. Seen created by French glassmakers in the 1320s, this method wasn’t brought to London until 1678.

Honorable Mention

There are many other styles of obscured glass we see in vintage windows and doors that are worth a mention:

Orange Peel Glass: named after it’s orange peel-like texture and great for privacy.

Florentine Glass: Florentine glass creates a starburst like random pattern.

Pinwheel Glass: This repetitive swirl-like pattern obscures details, but provides great light.

If you’d like to learn more about antique glass, here’s a great article