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Cased glass–vintage era canes and buttons
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Cased glass buttons are not common and often misunderstood. Color determination may be tricky, since they are molded from a cane that is bi-color. The cane’s core determines how the button is classified as to color, regardless of the predominant color that shows on the surface. A cross-section view of the cane makes this concept easier to visualize. Canes made of contrasting colors will result in bi-color buttons, the “base color” coming from the inner core color of the cane, the other from the outer thin layer on the core. It is much like having a built-in decorative overlay. Some types of vintage glass made in Germany and the Czech Republic came from cased canes. Satin glass, moonglows, and DIGS (design in glass surface) are the main examples. Single color moonglows and satin glass utilized canes with a color core cased with clear colorless glass. It is the clear colorless glass that adds the translucent quality these buttons.
The button on the left shows a cross section of a white cane with a rose pink outer coating. The button of the right is a shaped cased glass button made from a yellow-coated white cane. The center 2 buttons are known as DIGS [design in glass surface]. All are classified as white buttons. The colored decoration comes from the color coating of the canes from which they were made.
The leaf and swan designs shown below are both classified as black glass buttons. Planing off or “shaving” the molded surface design brings out the contrasting color scheme for best dramatic effect. White and black canes, paired with a contrasting color casing, are the most common.
This swan button was molded into a low relief cameo design. The predominant orange surface color is from the cane’s outer coating, which has stayed near the surface as the button is pressed into the mold. When the swan is planed off, the thin orange layer is removed, creating a black swan and revealing the true black color of the button’s base.
The green leaf above has an intaglio design. The green outer layer of glass is captured in the sunken leaf design as it is pressed down into the glass. The planed off surface reveals the black base.
Notice that the green glass shows on the back of the button also. Only at the shank and edge can the true black color of the base be seen.
The green on this shaved top button comes from the casing color on the cane. The molding creates a nice fluted design, revealing scalloped edge on the shaved plane. Notice there is some black glass involved in the cased outer edge as well. Unusual to see.
The back of the shaved top button shown above. Both top and shank view clearly show a white cane with a green casing color.