I’ve added some pictures for reference, of my 19th century opaline glass (or what I would call opaline glass) to show how they compare to the early to mid 19th century descriptions cited above, as they are from c. the same era.
All sources are cited previously in the thread.
1) the first is an identified Baccarat perfume bottle - 19th c, and would be classified as opaline glass(my definition of) I believe. It is thick glass, and slightly translucent but by no means could it be classed as demonstrating opalescent properties and is definitely not transparent and translucency is minimal
2) the second is a mid 19thC pedestal tazza with trailed pink rim, also believed to be French. Translucent to some degree but not transparent by any means and does not demonstrate opalescent properties.
3) a small jug with red trailed rim, more translucent than either of the above pieces, more finely made, would not class as transparent but is certainly more so than the above piece, does not demonstrate opalescent properties as far as I can see. Identified using source 'Glass - Millers Antique Checklist, Mark West pg 53) as Baccarat opaline glass. Believed to be c mid C19th
4) c.mid C19th green mantle lustre satinised exterior polished interior, does not demonstrate opalescent properties is translucent, is definitely not transparent – attributed as possibly Josephinenhutte.
All of which I would call opaline glass using Newman's definition
'Opaline – a dense translucent glass that derives its diffused nature from the addition of bone ash, and is colored using metallic oxides, usually in pastel hues.’
Although all, as far as I can see, have a greater translucency then Mel’s vase I believe Mel’s vase dates to 1847 and I would still have described Mel’s vase as opaline glass.
And that is where the link with this thread lies and where my confusion lies in general regarding descriptors of opaline glass.
The Count in 1834 described opaline glass thus
‘Opaline glass is produced by mingling in the common metal of white glass, a portion of calcined bones, which gives a blue shade without impairing the transparency.' His description appears, to me, to be of what I would call opalescent glass. And as you read a little further in the article it does appear he is describing opalescent glass. And indeed Christine commented above, that the word opaline may have been used in this context as meaning opaline = opal ‘ine’ – opal ‘like’
And then in 1847, in the article I cited earlier on in the thread from the Art-Union magazine, which shows engravings of what I believe are the same glass and the same range as Mel's vase, the author of that article( written in 1847) titles it 'Opalescent glass'. Now I would call Mel’s vase opaline glass based on Newman's description.
Charles Hajdamach reproduced that article but does not refer to either opaline or opalescent when describing these vases but merely refers to them as Etruscan.
And although it is difficult to be sure as some of the items under discussion are illustrations, I think there are further examples of confusion over terminology/descriptors from different eras, demonstrated by the following two points:
- on page 113 of British Glass 1800-1914 Charles Hajdamach shows a photograph (plate 84) in black and white unfortunately, of a vase that appears to be quite dense white glass I think in a very similiar vein to Mel's although not satinised on the exterior, with the plate description as
'plate 84. White opaline vase, sepia enamelled with a scene of Ulysses weeping at the song of Demodocus, after an engraving by Flaxman; c 1851. Height 18 1/2in. (47.2cm)'
(My underlining to draw attention to the glass descriptor of opaline)
But then we have this
- on page 139 plate 104 (bottom right hand corner vase) he pictures another vase that again to my eye looks as though it is made from a similar glass to Mel's, i.e. I would call it opaline glass, although admittedly it is difficult to be sure as this is an illustration rather than a photograph.
It was a vase from Molineaux Webb & Co of Manchester shown at the Great Exhibition. In the book CH quotes from the catalogue written in 1851 in the following paragraph, (page 136/137) 'At the Great Exhibition the Etruscan style of decoration appeared on many of the glass stands. One page of the catalogue was devoted to the glass of Molineaux, Webb and Co in Manchester and featured at the bottom right a vase described as "opalescent...engraved after Flaxman's design of Diomed casting his spear at Mars" (plate104).' (The Great Exhibition, and therefore the catalogue description of 'opalescent glass', dates to 1851.)
So it seems to me that in 1834 opaline glass was the name for what we would now call opalescent glass and, as demonstrated by the comments in 1847 and 1851, what I would now call opaline glass was at that time named opalescent glass.
i.e. the complete opposite of current usage of terminology.
Also although I have a number of c1850 i.e. early opaline(my definition of) glass pieces, I do not have a single piece of opaline (my definition of) glass that I believe demonstrates opalescent (dictionary definition of) properties or even 'opal' like properties if you think of an opal stone and the colours it refracts.
So where this use of the word opalescent in the 19th century to describe what I would call opaline glass comes from is a curiosity to me.
I can understand the descriptor of opaline being used to described opalescent glass if you take Christine's term of opaline= opal 'ine'-opal'like'.
And finally, which term is correct for use now?