Cut Glass Bowl

From its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution was assumed to be the keeper of the national collections, although the "United States National Museum" did not emerge as a formal entity until 1858. Natural history and anthropology artifacts were the focus of the Museum's earliest collecting efforts, but by the late 19th century the Museum was collecting household goods, manufactured for the American and European market, that demonstrated technological and artistic advances in a wide range of industries. Between 1885 and 1920, American glass companies played an important role in building the new collections by donating examples of their currently fashionable glassware.
T. G. Hawkes & Company of Corning, New York, donated examples of their work to the Museum in 1917 and 1918, showcasing their rich or brilliant-cut glass. This bowl, donated by the firm in 1917, is cut and engraved, but also mounted in sterling silver—a newly fashionable style at the time.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
ca 1917
T. G. Hawkes & Co.
Physical Description
"colorless" (overall color)
glass, lead, transparent (overall material)
silver (rim, pierced material)
cut (joint piece production method/technique)
engraved (joint piece production method/technique)
overall: 3 3/4 in x 9 in; 9.525 cm x 22.86 cm
Place Made
United States: New York, Corning
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Domestic Furnishings
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of T.G. Hawkes and Company

Visitor Comments

7/19/2013 9:55:10 AM
Cut glass is found throughout the history of man, and some cut glass is being produced today. But, none of it compares to the quality and style of that created during the American Brilliant Cut Glass period. That period covered only about half a century. During that time American manufacturers developed the finest glass for cutting and created a new artistic craft. One of the easiest characteristics to identify with cut glass is the weight of the glass. The thickness of the glass is readily seen and felt because the glass had to be thick enough to allow for the deeper cuts in the patterns that were being developed. Weight was also an element of the glass because lead was a principle ingredient in the manufacture. One will also notice that this glass, when balanced on one hand, will ring like a bell when tapped with a fingernail. The next point to observe is its clarity. Brilliant cut glass will sparkle like a diamond as light moves through its intricate cuts. These cuts became highly stylized patterns and they were patented by the companies that created them. A design is composed of motifs such as hobstars or fans. Dozens of elaborate patterns were developed and took classical names such as: Empress, Caprice, Russian, Queens, Alhambra, Chrysanthemum, Brunswick, Elsmere, and many, many more. Most of the more elegant designs were created from 1885 to 1905, the highpoint of the "brilliant" period. The cuts were made by highly skilled craftsmen who held the blank against a stone, steel or carbon wheel. In the early period, the cuts were then polished with a wooden, cork or felt wheel. Later, the polishing phase was simplified and speeded up by the use of an acid bath. While most pieces were not "signed," many of the famous creators developed symbols which were inconspicuously etched on the glass. A signed piece is considered a special "find," but there are many others which are just as coveted and authentic. The interest in American Brill iant Cut Glass has grown rapidly in the past 30 years. The number of collectors has increased substantially and the creation of dealerships has become a blfowth industry. The result of this expanding interest prompted a small group of interested persons to meet in Indianapolis in 1978 They formed the American Cut Glass Association and annual conventions have been held every year since that time. This summer the 2009 convention will be held in the Washington DC area.
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