10 February 2008

Blue Opaline

 

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A pair of blue opaline candlesticks pop out from this soothing interior.

One of my favorite things to collect is a glass called blue opaline.  Authentic opaline was made in France from the late 18th century through to the end of the 19th century.  This semi-opaque, hand blown glass first came into popularity during Napoleon's reign and later peaked in Napoleon III's time during the 1850-60s.  As you might imagine, these antique French pieces are very rare and very pricey.  Besides France, other countries produced a similar glass that captured the beautiful, rich color of  blue opaline.  But only the glass from France can truly be called opaline.  Italy produced a glass in the 1900s that was made in the blue shade that mimics opaline.  And the Portieux Vallerysthal factory made a blue glass that is often mistakenly called blue opaline, but it is not as rare nor as valuable as true French opaline.   Additionally, English Bristol Glass produced during the 19th century is often confused for French Opaline.  The true French pieces from the late 18th and 19th centuries were made for a lady's dressing table - trinkets such as small jewelry boxes, perfume bottles, vases, watch holders, and sewing kits were favorites.  Other pieces were made into boxes, or caskets, to hold sugar and what-nots.  But mostly, opaline was made just to be admired and  just to be gazed at.  And although blue is by far the most popular and most produced shade, it does comes in other colors such as green and white.  Rarer shades include pink, red, and lemon - which is considered the most rare opaline color of all. 

Over the years opaline has gone in and out of favor.  Initially the French pieces were bought as souvenirs during the later years of the Grand Tour era.  There was a resurgence of its production in the 1920s.  And during the 50's and 60s, new pieces of blue opaline colored glass were made, often in the shape of perfume bottles.  But, today in general, opaline remains obscure and mostly unknown.  It's hard to learn much about it's history or the provenance of the antique pieces.  There are only two books that have been written about the glass and both are in French!  Today there are a few dealers who specialize in opaline and now these dealers have internet stores.  Rare antique pieces are more easily obtained today as opposed to the days before cyberspace commerce.  Then, one could scour antique show after antique show and maybe find one decent piece of opaline, if you were lucky.   

Every few years or so, European design magazines will feature the glass and proclaim a resurgence in just around the corner for opaline, but it never seems to happen.  The glass has also been shown in American magazines once or twice. Today, the term blue opaline is perhaps most associated with the interior designer Jan Showers of Dallas, Texas.  Showers sells a Murano glass lamp in her collection that comes in a luscious blue opaline color.  This lamp "pops" wherever it is used, just as a single piece of antique French opaline does whenever it is placed on a vanity table or a coffee table.  Because of it's intense blue shade, you don't need to amass a large collection of blue opaline to enjoy it.  One piece is just as beautiful as a hundred pieces are.

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My entry:  A single piece of blue opaline pops out from the mulberry colored transferware.  The hydrangea and blue and white vases blend in with the opaline.

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A box filled with blue opaline bottles.

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A rare early 19th piece which opens where the ormolu is.

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A serving dish inside a metal frame.

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A vanity piece with watch holder and perfume bottles.  Eglomise miniatures of Paris are affixed to the front of the ormolu.

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Here are examples of newer blue opaline perfume bottles. 

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This New York apartment has a blue opaline chandelier and two pieces of blue opaline are on the console behind the sofa.

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Another antique blue opaline light fixture.

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This rare and intricate chariot pulling two opaline vases is for sale for over $14,000.00

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A popular shape of blue opaline is the egg or oval shape.

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  An oval box with two perfume bottles inside.

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Another oval shape with ormolu.

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A jewelry box that still retains it's original key.

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A watch holder in a green shade of opaline.

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A white opaline perfume set with a watch holder.

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Pink and green opaline together.

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A fanciful cherub over a pink opaline cradle.

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Here horses pull a green opaline inkwell.

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Two matching green opaline vases with gold banding.

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A new chandelier with blue opaline crystals.

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A pillbox made of pink opaline with a miniature portrait.

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A rare lemon colored casket.

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Atlanta designer Suzanne Kasler used blue opaline sconces in this living room.

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A powder room showcases a blue opaline fixture. 

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These goblets, often mistaken for true French opaline, are from the Portieux Vallerysthal factory.

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Jan Showers produces this gorgeous blue opaline colored Murano glass lamp.

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Again, Suzanne Kasler - here she uses blue opaline colored lamps.

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My bedroom, with my blue opaline collection.

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A close up of my collection.  Some pieces are French antiques and others are newer.

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A Southern Accents cover features a chandelier with blue opaline crystal drops.

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And finally, my powder room has two pieces of blue opaline which pop against the brown marble.

57 comments:

  1. I always learn so much from you! Thanks. Beautiful blog.

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  2. Nice Joni! I love those 2 blue goblets.

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  3. Hi Joni-

    Loved this blog! You always expand my horizons!
    Dana

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  4. Ahhhh, utterly delightful! I love your style!

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  5. I recognize many of the pictures in this post, but had no idea that the beautiful blue accessory I was seeing was blue opaline. I definitely learned something new today! Great post.

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  6. Super-informative post -- thanks so much!

    Leah

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  8. ooh wow....thanks so much....I adore the Jan Showers lamp and the chandelier in the New York apartment.....what a beautiful blog !

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  9. Incredible gorgeous colour. Thanks for sharing the pix and your knowledge!

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  10. Joni
    I love how you have used the blue opaline in your own home. What a visually stimulating post you have done!! The first picture is one of my favourites.

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  11. BTW What a beautiful little chair that is in your bedroom!

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  12. Great educational post. I know I will notice opaline the next time I see it.

    I really like you bedroom wall color. Would you please publish the name of the color for me? I'm getting ready to paint my bedroom and had not decided on a color.

    Connie

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  13. Joni, your own collection looks great! Glad you shared.

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  14. What a wonderful topic. I have a small collection of the cheap versions lol. Your collection is very impressive.
    That chandelier sconce and pink pill box are utterly divine! And I ALWAYS love seeing pics of your stunning home.

    Anna :)

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  15. Oh please, could we have a house tour. Your home is lovely.

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  16. I love your blue opaline, I always learn something fascinating here! And those new peeks of your house, I LOVE IT!

    Melissa

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  17. Opaline (in any color- but especially the blue) really does make a big statement in a room- as your photos show! Your personal collection is gorgeous and I always seem to learn something new from your posts!

    Emily

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  18. I am in blue china heaven right now. What a fabulous post! I am living in that NY apartment (in my head!). Your blog is so inspiring!

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  19. gorgeous! i love the green too!
    love reading about the history and availability of opaline. your posts never waste my time with filler words or fluff. you pack a lot of vital detail and info in your posts. when my coffee cup is empty my computer time is over, so i always go to your blog first. i appreciate the time well spent.
    ~and the ridiculous eye candy. i want green opaline!
    thanks~
    natalie

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  20. I really didn't need another collection but your informative post about blue opaline has stimulated yet another potential collection. Your collection is very impressive. Thanks for the introduction to Blue Opaline.

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  21. J'adore opaline, especially the color bleu celeste, though that arsenic green color is pretty swell too.

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  22. Well, you know my favorite images are of your home, esp. the entryway vignette! My favorite non-Joni piece is the chariot pulling the two opaline bottles- that's divine!

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  23. Absolutely LOVE the first pic. I scoured this article when I received it & it's in my stack of fav mags! Your blog is great. March 2008 Veranda can't wait to pick it up.
    Kara

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  24. Joni - hoping that if I keep reading I'll be as smart as you some day. I think the image of a Michael Smith room I posted today has blue opaline on the bedside table. Now I know what it is!

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  25. An absolutely gorgeous post, Joni. Very interesting!

    I love getting another look inside your beautiful home, too.

    Pat

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  26. You are the queen of beautiful pictures! All of these shades of blue are so gorgeous!

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  27. J-
    Thank you so much for introducing me to blue opaline. I didn't know what it was but now I realize that it is simply meant for me:) esp the paler blue version.

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  28. Joni,

    I love the sconce sitting on the bench in the closeup photo with the opaline drops. Is this from a shop in Houston? I have a petite Schoenbeck chandelier in my entry with blue opaline, milky white, & taupe drops like those on the sconce. I would love to have 2 of those sconces to pair with a mirror in my front entry or in my dining room. I have desperately searched for a chandelier like the one on Southern Accents cover, I have saved that magazine forever. Any tips?

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  29. Andria - here are a few links for chandeliers:
    http://www.pariscoutureantiques.com/item_71/Art-Nouveau-Rare-BLUE-OPALINE-Paris-Flea-CHANDELIER.htm

    http://www.frenchgardenhouse.com/catalog.php?item=75

    http://www.french-antique-furniture.com/#

    google blue opaline sconces and chandeliers and see what comes up! Good luck!!!

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  30. Joni! Another wonderful post. Blue is one color that I can never get enough of. And I think this particular color is my favorite. Thanks for yet another peak into your lovely home.!
    Katie

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  31. Once again...come here, learn something worth knowing...thank you!

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  32. Joni, I must be living in a hole (or decor-deprived city) as I have never heard of blue opaline, but looking at your (lovely, amazing) photos I realize NOW that I have seen it lots and it didn't register. It is truly beautiful. Thanks for the lesson. You are such a good teacher. :)

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  33. this is such a great post. your collection is incredible. and i love your still life with the one piece surrounded by the transferware.

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  34. Joni! I just saw this post of yours called out in the Washington Post Home and Garden Blog Watch section. Congratulations!

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  35. Joni! I just saw this post of yours called out in the Washington Post Home and Garden Blog Watch section. Congratulations!

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  36. i love this post! i'm a student of the decorative arts (literally, getting my masters) and love your blog! xo Abbey

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  37. Joni
    This post of yours on Opaline has been so popular it has been featured in:
    The Washington Post
    The LA Times
    The Seattle Times
    The Vancouver Sun
    and those are just the ones I know of...Good work!!!!

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  38. Hello,
    We have some collections of small tables and coffee tables made of solid mahogany plantation wood from Indonesia.
    Thank you.
    Paul Gang.

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  39. PHENOMENAL! I adore this adoring color!!! The goblets are gorgeous as well, as the blue hydrangea featured in one of the photos. This has inspired me to clean, organize and get rid of stuff I don't want...so I can finally get the teal room I've dreamed of!!!

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  40. Yet another beautiful type of glass to admire and covet~love it!

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  41. Hello I really enjoyed your site. On the second to the last picture you have a bowl sitting on a stack of books. I have one of these bowls and was wondering if you know anything about it.

    Thank you
    Kathy C

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  42. Beautiful collection! Would you mind sharing the names of the dealers who specialize in opaline? I am looking for a blue opaline casket.

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  43. Hi Emily,

    That isn't my site. I was trying to find information myself, but never got an answer back. You are the first to contact me from this blog. I have a piece I was trying to find information on that is pictured on the Cote De Texas sight. Oh Well.

    To help you. On Ruby Lane antiques you can find a blue casket. Here is the link

    http://search.rubylane.com/search?ss=blue+opaline&hsb=Find+an+Item

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  44. y'all - email me - ok - not sure what you need - but ruby lane is probably where it was from.

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  46. thats really good , would like to buy some of the opaline stuff , where is the opaline chandelier though?

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  54. very nice home decor for home, match with all furniture design. very rich taste and looks, great color.

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  55. What are the names of the 2 books about French blue opaline?

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