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Verre de Soie by Steuben Glass Works

White Silk Glass Sometimes Confused with Carnival by Novice Collectors

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Steuben Verre de Soie White Silk Glass Vase

Steuben Verre de Soie Vase

- Photo Courtesy of Morphy Auctions
Verre de Soie, pronounced "v-air da swah", was made by Steuben Glass Works while Frederick Carder was art director for the firm from 1903 to 1933. This type of finish was previously known as “Flint Iridescent” when it was made as early as the mid-1880s by Stevens and Williams, an English glass company Carder worked for prior to co-founding Steuben, according to The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Art Glass by John A. Shuman III.

Referred to as "V.D.S." by Steuben’s employees, this type of frosty hue was achieved by spraying stannous chloride on a base piece crafted of clear glass. The result was a white surface with a very silky feel. And while it is hard to photograph, the finish also casts a faint rainbow spectrum that was popular with consumers. It was also Carder's favorite iridescent glass.

The name actually translates to "silk glass" in French. Consumers and collectors have referred to it as "Glass of Silk", "Angel’s Breath" and "Angel Skin" from time to time as well. When pieces are unsigned, this can be confused with white carnival glass or other glassware originating in Europe, according to Shuman. However, carnival glass is pressed or molded rather than blown, so Verre de Soie will have a more delicate overall feel to it and no mold lines or seams present in comparison.

The finish on Verre de Soie pieces will also have less green or purple to the sheen, and a hint of blue and yellow will also be present upon close inspection in comparison to other types of antique or newer glass that may be similar at first glance. It's also interesting to note that if the finish on this type of glassware has any roughness to the feel at all, knowledgeable collectors and dealers assume it wasn’t made by Steuben.

Some of the shapes used for this style of glassware were also used for Aurene pieces. So, the shape can be an identifier as well as the color. A variety of wares were made with the silky Verre de Soie finish including vases (like the one shown above), stemware, plates, perfume bottles, sherbet dishes (click More Images link above to see examples), bowls, lamp shades, and nut dishes among others. These can have decorative accents such as ruffled or pinched edges, ribbed or diamond quilt patterns, wheel engraving and/or silver overlay.

About the Piece Shown Above

This fluted Steuben Verre de Soie Vase stands 12" tall and is in excellent condition. It sold for $258.75 (not including buyer’s premium) at Morphy Auctions in January, 2011.

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