Q: My grandfather hand cut this and turned down an offer of $20 for it around 1910. All the edges are sharp and there are no chips. What do you think it would be worth?
A: We were a little surprised to learn that your grandfather may have actually cut this American Brilliant Period cut glass bowl. We are not saying that he did not — just that he would have had to have been a highly skilled artist working in a glass factory that was probably located in Corning, N.Y.
This is a master berry bowl, and at one time, it had eight to 12 smaller matching bowls. Berries such as strawberries were served in the larger vessel and then portioned out to the smaller dishes to serve individual dinners.
At the turn of the 20th century, American Brilliant Period cut glass was a go-to gift for brides, hostesses, wives and the like. It was laboriously cut by hand using grinding wheels and polishing compounds to create a piece of glass that refracted light the way a fine piece of jewelry might.
This is a lovely pattern with an upper portion in a "chair bottom," "daisy-and-button" or "Harvard" pattern (a lot of names for virtually the same design) with hobstars (a star composed of numerous lines that intersect to form something that looks like a hobnail) scattered around the center.
We are reminded of the design work of Thomas Gibbons Hawkes (1846-1913), who was one of the titans of the cut glass industry. In particular we are reminded of his pattern 16, or "Coronet" (which this particular piece is not). Hawkes' company was in business from 1880 until 1959.
Cut glass is extremely fragile, and it is unusual to find a piece that is not chipped in at least some small way.
Look for a signature, which might be found in the center of the bowl. It will be very gray and hard to see, but if one huffs a breath on the surface it may show up. Also, turning the bowl in the light might create an angle in which a signature can be seen.
If a "Hawkes" (look for a bird and a trefoil motif) signature is found, the value of the piece would be enhanced. This is an intricate design with suggestions it was done by Thomas G. Hawkes, and it probably should retail in the $350 to $450 range if in perfect condition.
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques.