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What Does "Flashed On" Color Mean?

Don't Be Taken By These Glass Lookalikes

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King's Crown Covered Dish with Stained Color

King's Crown Covered Dish with Stained Color

- Photo Courtesy of Replacements, Ltd. (www.replacements.com)
Occasionally when perusing descriptions of glassware being offered for sale online or reading tags at an antique mall or show, you might run across the term "flashed on" referencing a piece of red or cranberry glass. It's wise to understand exactly what this term means to avoid paying too much for low quality glass.

What is "Flashed On" Color?

While a piece of glass might look as if it is solid red or cranberry through and through, glass with flashed on coloring actually has a light coating of color over clear glass. Using this term is somewhat of a misnomer, however. True flashed glass was made by taking a piece of clear glass and dipping it in molten glass mixture to coat it red. This glass was made to imitate red or cranberry glass at a lower cost, since red glass is made with gold oxide.

Today many antiques dealers and collectors refer to the color technique where a piece has been stained red or cranberry as flashed on color, since the term stained glass often brings to mind leaded glass (like that used in church windows or Tiffany lamps, for example) to most people.

As accepted in antiques circles, flashed on pieces have a light stain that was applied to the surface of a clear glass base. The base glass is often thinner and lighter in weight than true red or cranberry pieces made in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Again, this was another a technique used to make less expensive glass look nice at an even lower cost to manufacturers and consumers.

Cranberry flashed glass was also made in the mid-century era of the 1900s and styles are usually similar to others popular during that period. These are the most common pieces found today, and they should be fairly reasonably priced.

Occasionally older glass with red painted accents will be referenced as flashed as well, but this is not the most common use of the term.

How Can Flashed On Color Be Identified?

One of the easiest ways to identify a piece of glass with flashed on color (whether actually flashed or stained, as noted above) is to look for scratches and wear where the clear glass is showing through. Being a less expensive and lower quality product, the decor on these pieces wasn't the most durable, especially with stained pieces, and they didn't hold up very well with use and subsequent cleaning.

You can also check the bottoms and edges of the glass for evidence of clear glass beneath the thin coating of red or cranberry color. Even pieces that were rarely used still show some shelf wear, and there are usually telltale signs when these items are closely inspected. Use a magnifying glass or jeweler's loupe if needed to examine a piece closely.

Some pieces of this type of glass will also be "cut to clear," which means the glass has been etched through the red or cranberry flashing so clear glass shows through purposely. Older pieces with hand etching are generally nicer than newer wheel etched items.

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