In 1291, the mayor of Venice, Italy ordered all glass factories to be relocated to the island of Murano to prevent dangerous factory fires from affecting Venice. Since then, Murano glass has acquired great prestige for its beauty and color. This is identified first by its location, then by its factories and finally by its designers. You can recognize these sources thanks to the certificate of authenticity, the signature of the master glassmaker or a catalog of Murano glass.
Method 1 of 3: Quick Ways to Identify Murano Glass
Step 1. Find a label or stamp
If it says "Made in Italy" or "Made in Venice," it is probably not Murano glass. These are two ways that outside glassmakers use to convince tourists that the piece was possibly made in Murano without having to affirm it.
- A piece labeled "Made in Murano" may be a fake. Today many pieces are made in China and sold in Venice as Murano glass.
- Likewise, if the piece says “from Murano” it is unlikely that it is authentic Murano glass.
Step 2. Ask the seller if the Murano glass piece is new or old
New Murano glass is accompanied by a certificate from the factory, which guarantees its authenticity. If it is bought and sold by art dealers and antique dealers, you must accompany the piece of glass at all sales.
Murano glass made before 1980 is unlikely to be certified, so this is only a safe method of identifying new glass
Step 3. Be very careful with paperweights and fish bowls
These are the items that counterfeit the most, they are sold as Murano glass, but they are made elsewhere. Continue with the following methods to identify Murano glass.
Method 2 of 3: Identify it by viewing
Step 1. Don't rely on your ability to identify a piece of authentic Murano glass by color
Only a trained eye and a glass expert can do it reliably.
Step 2. Be careful if you try to identify Murano glass on the internet
If you are considering purchasing an item, it is best to identify it through the signature of the master glazier, a catalog, or a certificate of authenticity.
Step 3. Look for a signature on the glass
The following are master glassmakers from Murano: Ercole Barovier, Archimede Seguso, Aureliano Toso, Galliano Ferro, Vincenzo Nason, Alfredo Barbini and Carlo Moretti. There are also other master glassmakers who worked in the Murano glass factories over the years.
- If the signature looks as if it has been scratched into the surface with a carbide-tipped pencil after tempering, it is likely a counterfeiter trying to sell a counterfeit piece like that of a well-known designer.
- You will have to go to the next method to know if the signature is in the correct place. The catalogs will indicate the place of the signature and the label.
Step 4. Look for some evidence to indicate the use of genuine gold and silver in the production of the glass
Step 5. Identify any evidence that the piece is handmade
Murano glass is hand-tempered, which means it must have some bubbles and asymmetrical characteristics.
Step 6. Look for misshapen fish silhouettes, smoky parts, and blood-red hues
Although the glass is tempered by hand, these mistakes are not often made.
Method 3 of 3: Identify it from the catalog
Step 1. Read the “Murano Glass Glossary” on Fossilfly com
It is a good manual on the techniques and styles of Murano glass. You might come back to it when you look at the factory catalogs.
Step 2. Request a catalog from the same factory
The factories have at least the catalogs of their current offerings; however, they also likely have the ones from your old products. Check out 20thcenturyglass.com to find popular Murano glass factories and then search their websites so you can request a catalog.
Step 3. Hire a glass expert to identify it
If you still doubt the authenticity, you should contact a local glass antique expert and show him all the information you have. While experts are not 100% accurate, they will have an easier time identifying glass than anyone else.