Antique crystal stemware is often passed down through the generations, but unfortunately, the name of the stemware isn't passed along with it. That leaves you to become a sleuth, looking for ways to identify the manufacturer and the particular pattern. Go the simplest route first and see whether a mark is etched on the stemware. If it isn't, you can turn to an expert for help.
Increase your knowledge of antique stemware by reading books such as "Elegant Glassware of the Depression Era: Identification and Value Guide" and "Stemware of the 20th Century: The Top 200 Patterns." You'll have more success identifying your set if you gain this background and familiarize yourself with the characteristics of different eras and manufacturers.
Compare your stemware to illustrations in the books you read. Most glass is clear, but if yours is colored or gold trimmed, you have an easy way to begin narrowing the field. If your crystal is cut or etched, you can search for that pattern or design. You'll find that some techniques were popular in certain eras--for instance, etching was in before World War II, but lost its allure afterward.
Try to find a manufacturer's name on your stemware--it may be etched on the bottom. If it is, contact that company for help in determining the pattern.
If there's no mark, call or e-mail a stemware replacement company. Staff members will ask you questions about identifying marks, and many will send you a photo of the pattern they think is closest. If it's right and you're looking for more pieces, you can search the company's discontinued stemware lines.
Bring your stemware to an antiques appraiser or dealer. They often have a vast store of knowledge, plus books and other helpful resources at their disposal. Professionals also can tell you whether a piece is an antique or a copy. This a fairly complex skill that can involve the weight, size, design and color of an object, and it's developed through years of experience.
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