Q. Can you still buy wavy glass like I see in homes from the 1800s?
Yes! There are a few different ways to purchase wavy glass: from old windows and furniture available through glass, antique, and salvage dealers. You may also be able to find some on sites like Craigslist. Generally on these sites you would buy the whole old window and remove the glass.
There are also manufacturers in Europe that make new wavy glass using the exact same methods used to make mouth-blown cylinder glass in the pre-industrial era. These are available with different amounts of waves and distortion. Pioneer Glass stocks three different versions of mouth blown wavy glass from these manufacturers.
Lastly, glass with the same distortion of window glass used in the early mechanised process before modern float glass was invented are also manufactured today. We carry four types of Schott restoration glasses for these time periods.
Q. My house was built in the mid 1800s and I seem to have many different types of glass. All of the glass has distortion but there are clear differences. Is this common?
It is common. Your house may have been built using crown glass which was a very popular choice at that time. Through the years the homeowners had many of the same problems we have today. Glass panes were broken by children, stripping old paint, and storms. This is no different than the trials homeowners go through today. When replacing broken glass, the local shop may have had only cylinder glass, or later in the time period, machined drawn glass. A large amount of old homes have a variety of glass in the windows.
Q. My glass is distorted but I don’t see actual waves which I have seen in other homes.
Most likely you have machined glass from the early 1900s . This glass was drawn upward by a machine into sheets which was then cut into panes. This allowed larger panes to be cut and sold. It also allowed for much larger production. There was great demand for glass with an enormous amount of building going in the country. This glass is still quite common in American cities.
Q. Sometimes when I walk by my windows I see quite a distortion, but when I look straight out they are mostly clear. Why is this?
To truly appreciate all of the distortions in historic glasses, we recommend that you look from a 30 degree to 45 degree angle. The distortions are much more vivid from this angle. As you pass by your windows you would tend to be at this angle.
Q. I have wavy glass in my house which was built in the 1850s. I have done some research but cannot determine if the window glass is Crown Glass or Cylinder Glass. Is there a way a homeowner can figure this out?
Crown glass was spun on the end of a rod in a circular motion similar to a spinning top. Because of this the waves tend to be curved. Cylinder glass was swung in a back and forth motion and the waves tend to be straight and more parallel.
Q. I have been looking at historic reproduction glass on the internet and all of it seems much more distorted that the glass in my bookcase which has a broken pane. Do you sell slightly wavy glass to match my other glass?
Photos showing the actual distortion of glass are very difficult to take. Generally they show an exaggerated distortion or none at all.
A customer, Ben, called us looking for some glass to match his vintage display case. Ben sent along a video which represents the closest approximation of early machined glass I have seen. Along with our input, Ben elected to go with Restover (Light) which has the most subtle hint of older glass. Check out the video he made of the finished product for a good look at Restover glass below.