Cranberry glass an eye-catching way to decorate a room this summer...

These vases are good examples of cranberry glass
These vases are good examples of cranberry glass
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Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn looks at a type of glassware that is made using 22ct gold but is not actually that expensive!

This week, we’re looking at the perfect summer glassware.

Cranberry glass is a finely blown ruby glass made with the addition of 22ct gold which has been dissolved in nitric and hydrochloric acid to give gold chloride. The more gold in the original solution, the deeper the pink colouration.

First produced by the Romans and requiring skilled craftsmanship to make, cranberry glass still holds an important place in many homes, and has been collected and used for decorating tables for centuries since the process was rediscovered in Bohemia during the 1600s.

The Victorians adored cranberry glass; through producers like Thomas Webb and Stourbridge, and designer Mary Gregory (famed for putting the little feminine figurines on the glass, in white) its manufacturing heyday was from 1870 to the start of World War 2. Production continues up to the present day, with Royal Scot Crystal producing new designs every year.

Antique cranberry glass can still be found in a huge variety of shapes, from simple vases to elaborate table centrepieces and all manner of items, including preserve dishes and decanters with matching glasses.

These vases are good examples of cranberry glass, their texture highlighting the pink shading.

The smaller vase is available the centre for £15, and the larger vase, exhibiting the exuberant frilled lip beloved of the Victorians, is £35.

As its popularity grew, cheaper press moulding mass manufacture led inevitably to a drop in standards, aim for the earlier blown glass, checking for the mark made on the bottom of any pieces when blown glass is separated from the blowing rod.

Shapes can help date cranberry glass. In the 1860s, short scroll legs were popular on bowls; twisted handles on jugs were all the rage in the 1860s and 1870s, as was the application of opaque glass beads.

Baskets of all kinds became popular in the 1880s and 1890s.

Victorian cranberry glass can be paler shades of pink, rather like runny raspberry jam, though earlier pieces can be darker, and a shade that was close to tawny was produced in Edwardian times.

Reproduction pieces lack the warm shades of older glass, with an almost bluish tinge when held up to the light.