IV. Free Hand Decorations/Colors & Shapes

Free Hand  shapes are all variations of four basic forms i.e. vase, bowl, basket, and candlestick. Therefore this section will deal primarily with the decors shown on the 271 Free Hand items identified on the twenty four pages of salesman's catalogs found in Volume II of the Imperial Glass Encyclopedia.  There are eight decor 

categories, plus a ninth one for "undocumented" pieces. The undocumented category includes examples that 

have an undocumented shape or undocumented decor, or both an undocumented shape and decor. A few 

pieces fall into more than one category. 

Leaf & Vine:


The original Imperial name was "Leaf & Web". It is also called

"Hanging Hearts " in the 
Imperial EncyclopediaSome collectors

 use "Heart & Vine". 

White Leaf & Vine is the most often 
seen; green, red, and blue less so.

Sometimes an example appears to be brown or rust colored but 

actually is a blue Leaf & Vine on a white body covered with deep

orange iridescence.

Used on Lead Lustre pieces also.

Lily Pad & Vine:        


It is also called "Varegated Leaf & Vine " in Glass Threads.

I believe this to be the most ambitious motif created for 

Free Hand pieces.

Drag Loop

It is also called "Looping" in Glass ThreadsWhite, green, red, and blue drag loops can be found.

Used on  Lead Lustre pieces also (but called "Festoons" on  Lead Lustre).

This example shows blue drag loops on clear glass.  Below are examples of blue drag loops on white base glass - with varying
amounts of orange iridescence applied.


All of these vases are essentially identical to the blue and white vase on the left, with light, medium and heavy orange iridescence on vases
2 - 3 - 4 respectively.
King Tut:   


The mummy of King Tutankhamun was found in 1922 by 
Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon. Soon thereafter all things made in this "Egyptian Style", including glass, became the rage.

This is a very rare decor.



This motif is one that is found on both Free Hand & Lead Lustre.

While the
 Lead Lustre versions are not common,  Free Hand 
examples are 
very rare
The three vases below
Lead Lustre examples.

Cut Crystal: 



The Imperial catalogs show examples that have either blue or 

yellow-green rims, handles, stems or bases. The yellow - green 

examples are very rare.

This decor is often not recognized as Free Hand.

                                  There are Lead Lustre pieces that have
                                         cut decorations, such as the example below.

 Threaded & Spider Webbing

 Free Hand Threaded - uniform, 
parallel glass threads

 Free Hand Spider Webbing - more 
random, some interesecting threads

There are Lead Lustre pieces with
Spider Webbing, such as below.

Mirror Glazes & Lustre Glazes   

 Mirror Glaze

           Lustre Glaze

I do not consider as "undocumented" pieces simply not shown on Imperial Saleman's Catalog plates. For example, even though FH??? below right is not shown on an Imperial Saleman's Catelog plate, it has a documented shape and a documented decoration.

   FH 238
 FH 303
 FH 196
 FH ???

Imperial's Free Hand numbering system assigned a different FH number to the same shaped items that have a different finish, color, or  design, e. g. drag loop vs. leaf and vine or blue drag loop vs. red drag loop. This makes it impossible to assign a FH number to an example not shown and specifically numbered on a salesman's catalog plateTherefore this section/category will be reserved for examples that have an undocumented shape, undocumented decoration or both an undocumented shape and decoration.


The example left has both an undocumented Free Hand shape and undocumented Free Hand decoration.


Copyright © 2009 Ernie Albanese

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