Early American Pattern Glass, commonly called EAPG by collectors and dealers, is one of the oldest fields in collecting glass and one that continues to attract a growing following. Books about it first appeared in the 1930s and today there is a national EAPG club. What is EAPG?
All EAPG will be pressed glass, which means the liquid hot glass was squeezed or pressed into a mold that imparted the shape and patterns. However, not nearly all pressed glass is pattern glass. To be EAPG the design must have been made in a wide enough of selection to merit being labeled “a pattern.” A few pieces of pressed glass bearing the same design will not elevate it to being EAPG. Today it is accepted that the definition of production of enough shapes to be called a pattern means that it was manufactured in at least the basic Victorian table set of creamer, sugar bowl, butter dish and spooner. A single EAPG pattern may have over 100 different shapes from small salt dip to large compote. Most but not all EAPG patterns will have a goblet.
The use of the world “early” does not mean colonial America but early in the manufacturing of pressed glass. Glass was first pressed in the 1830s. The period of peak production and popularity for EAPG is 1870 to 1910s. The second half of the 19th century saw a rising middle class and their hunger for decorative Victorian objects for the home. This coupled with technical innovations in glass manufacturing made pressed glass and thus EAPG possible in the years after the Civil War.
Most EAPG was made in “sparkling clear crystal” but colors were also produced. Amber was the second most plentiful color made but is the least desired today. Blue and canary, today called Vaseline glass, were other popular colors. Additional colors exist but would be uncommon.
Collectors of EAPG pursue their collections in many ways: by color, by pattern, by form (such as goblets, butter dishes, etc) or by company. Several current books are available on EAPG. Some patterns and some specific shapes have been reproduced.