Artist had designs on glass Antiques: Steuben acid-etched pieces have always commanded high prices.

August 04, 1996|By Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel | Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel,KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

Have you ever wondered how decorations are added to glass?

Frederick Carder, the famous artist at the equally famous Steuben Glass Works, established an etching room about 1906. He had worked at Stevens & Williams in England.

To make cameo glass, Carder sandwiched several layers of different-colored glass, and formed a bowl. A design was then acid-etched into the outer layer, leaving a design of one colored glass exposed over another colored glass.

The design was "inked" on a paper and transferred to the glass bowl. The bowl was dipped in acid, which ate away at the glass in all places not covered by the waxy ink. A second, similar etching was done to add details.

The process is known as "acid-etching" or "double-etching."

Many of the patterns were inspired by Oriental designs. The finished glass resembled the older Chinese cameo glass called "Peking glass."

Steuben acid-etched pieces were expensive when new and still sell for high prices.

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I always get a kick out of the beds that folded into the wall in the old movies. Do they still exist?

The Murphy Bed Co. was founded in 1908 in San Francisco. It moved to New York in 1926. Clark Murphy, grandson of the founder, now runs the company in Farmingdale, N.Y.

Murphy beds are mounted on the floor. They can be folded into a storage closet, freeing up space during the day. They were -- and still are -- especially popular in small, city apartments.

While cleaning out my grandmother's house, I found a small mirror, about the size that would fit in a purse or pocket. The back has a portrait of a young woman with the words "Oxford Chocolates." Is this valuable?

Pocket mirrors advertising products were given away at shops and stores at the turn of the century. The earliest ones had an advertising message printed and covered with glass that was attached to the mirror.

About 1910, they were made of celluloid, and the decorations became more creative. Advertising mirrors for men's clothing stores, cigars or alcohol frequently had nude women decorating the back.

L There were at least 16 novelty companies making the mirrors.

An Oxford Chocolates mirror sold last year for $85. Prices for pocket mirrors range from $20 to $300.

Pub Date: 8/04/96

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