American Brilliant Cut Glass

The American Brilliant Period: 1876-1916.

A time of entertaining, prosperity and enjoying the finer things in life…

Some of the most beautiful and intricate glass designs ever created came from the United States during this time.

In 1876 the first pieces of ABG were showcased at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was then that American designers and glass companies established there place in the glass industry and no longer had to rely on Europe for direction on pattern or motif. American glass companies would soon produce some of the best and most sought after pieces in the world.

Even though these companies produced an immense amount of glass, quality was never sacrificed for a second. At that time ‘mass produced’ did not mean the same thing it does today. Designing, cutting & polishing these patterns on a glass blank could take from 2-45 hours on one piece to create the final product that was sold.  It took an incredible amount of skill and patience to create the art that they did. Thousands of skilled artisans worked at the American company’s factories hand cutting each and every brilliant piece that went out the door.

Consumers truly appreciated the skill and craftsmanship in the pieces they purchased. Each item was hand cut by company artisans making each piece truly custom made for the buyer which they felt in their purchase.


Around 1916 when the demand for brilliant glass was dwindling, American glass companies started cutting back production and closing their doors. They started laying off thousands of skilled artisans with no place to turn in a dying industry. Bitter-sweetly and consequently adding more layers to the artistic credibility of the period itself.

Brilliant period glass and the artists that embodied it will forever be a part of American history. Their work reminds us of the very spirit that made America great. Brilliant glass and its creators will forever live on as genius and highly sought after commodities

There are several reasons one could say the brilliant period ended, but they all have WWI in common. One reason is lead (essential to cut glass blanks) was allocated to the war effort for ammunition no longer readily available for artistic purposes. Another common reason is the massive shift in societal consciousness about having fancy things and showing their wealth during hard times in the United States.



Nothing is impossible, however it is questionable if full scale production of such brilliant glass in America would ever be possible again; skilled artisan wages, low consumer demand and the general high cost of manufacturing lowers the feasibility of a revival.  

Today brilliant glass is coveted and appreciated by collectors, artists and glass lovers a like. We can keep this majestic period alive by learning more about the companies and artists who created such a massive artistic movement, that began and ended inside the United States.