How to Accurately Describe Condition!
Our goals in presenting this glossary are to:
  • Provide buyers and sellers with a common language for the condition of glass or pottery items.
  • Assure satisfied buyers.
  • Prevent conflicts regarding the condition of a pottery or glass item.

What We Mean by Flaws and Damage

Flaws are defects, visible marks or inclusions made during the manufacturing process that should be included in the auction description. These flaws do not always affect value but they may do so, depending on visibility and severity.

For example, a few seed bubbles in the stem of an antique glass piece will most likely not affect value. However seed bubbles throughout the whole piece may affect the value. In either case, the bubbles should be described in the auction.
The presence of a variety of kiln marks on some types of pottery is common and is not generally considered a flaw, but, again, should be described. Blue Ridge Pottery, for example, is well known for glaze pops.


Damage describes defects made through use, handling, cleaning or storage. Damage includes nicks, cracks, scratches, paint wear and crazing.  Damage generally affects value and should be described.

Terms like "Excellent Condition" or "Very Good Condition" are very subjective and will mean different things to different people!While we may state that an item is in very good condition, we will make every effort to include the specific details so that the prospective buyer can make his or her own assessment.

Flaws and Defects in Pottery or Glass

The purpose of this glossary is to provide buyers and sellers with a common language for the condition of glass or pottery items.
General Flaws and Defects


Light scratches - Scratches which do not score the surface of the item. Can be seen but not felt.

Deep scratches - Scratches which score the surface of the item and can be felt with a fingernail. Deep scratches should be measured in inches in the definition.

Utensil scratches - Light scratches caused by utensils during use. Examples are knife scratches on dinner plates or spoon scratches in mixing bowls. These scratches do not score the surface and do not lead to chips or nicks. Utensil wear may be measured in estimated percentages - as in “utensil wear over approximately 20% of the surface of the plate.”

Storage scratches - Light surface scratches on the inside an item caused by having another item stored inside - often seen in a ring . These scratches do not score the surface and do not lead to chips or nicks.

Scuff - Small area of concentrated scratches, generally caused by rubbing against another item over time. Smaller and more concentrated than storage scratches.

Stained scratches - scratches which contain permanent stains within them.

Chips Shallow chips - Chips greater than 1/4” which are close to the surface of an item. generally not immediately visible upon viewing the item

Deep chips - Chips were are deep enough into the item to visible immediately and which can be easily felt with a finger.

Flakes - Shallow chips less than 1/4”

Nicks - Deep chips of less than 1/4”

Pinpoint nick - Tiny fairly round little nick no larger than the size of a pencil point. Some sellers refer to this as a “fleabite.”

Decoration Wear

Gold, platinum or silver wear - Wear to the metallic trim on an item. Wear may be described in estimated percentages - as in, “gold trim is approximately 90% intact.”

Decal deterioration - Wear or disintegration of an under the glaze decorative decal. May be described in estimated percentages - as in, “only about 5% wear to the center decal.”

Paint wear - Wear to painted decoration applied after manufacture. In pottery, this is often referred to as “cold paint” wear. May be described in estimated percentages - as in, “approximately 20% overall paint wear.”

Paint rub - Small concentrated area on unglazed items (such as head vases) where paint has been rubbed away


Crack - A crack which goes completely through the piece, which affects the structural integrity of the piece, or which is immediately visible upon inspection of the piece.

Hairline - A very tight, narrow crack which does not affect the structural integrity of the piece and which is not immediately visible.


Permanent water stain - Stain caused by water left in a vessel for a long period of time. Also found on “dug” items - items that had been buried for a long period of time. On glass, water stains appear as white, foggy, or cloudy stains, often with a slight iridescent hue. On pottery, these stains appear as rough, white deposits.

Food stains - Stain caused by use that has permanently stained the item. Food stains can be under the glaze, usually surrounding a flaw, or over the glaze. Food stains are generally brown or gray.


Crazing - A network of spidery cracks in the surface of the glaze. May be described in estimated percentages or by location - as in, “light crazing over 100% of the item” or “heavy crazing on the pedestal only.”

Light crazing - Very light and only visible upon close inspection.

Heavy crazing - A network of spidery cracks in the surface of the glaze. Immediately visible .

Stained crazing - Crazing that has become stained over time by water or food, and appears as dark, networked lines.


Sun Purple - Glass that has turned slightly purple or lavender. Caused by exposure to the sun. Most sun purple glass occurs naturally, but some sellers intentionally create sun purple glass. Sellers will disclose if the glass was intentionally exposed to the sun for the purpose of changing the glass color.

Manufacturing Flaws - Glass


Cooling Mark - String-like inclisions in glass cuased as the hot glass cools. Often erroneously called “straw marks.”

Sand Deposit - Small included piece of sand remaining from the manufacturing process. May look like bits of sand or a small stone.

Pontil Marks

Round Pontil Mark - Circular, slightly rough mark on the bottom of an item, caused by the removal of the item from the glass blowing rod. Found on blown and blown-mold items.

Rough Pontil Mark - Raised, sometimes sharp, mark or scar on the bottom of a blown glass item, caused by the removal of the item from the glass blowing rod. Often appears as a small glob on the bottom of an item.

Mold Marks

Shear Mark - Straight mark or scar caused by the shears used to cut away the molten glass as it was being dropped into the mold. Sometimes called a “straw mark”.

Mold Mark Roughness - Rough, raised mold lines or seems which were not smoothed during manufacture. Not used to describe chips along a mold mark.


Included Bubble - A bubble that is 100% below the surface of the glass

Seed Bubbles - Tiny included bubbles, usually found in clusters or throughout a piece.

Stretched Bubble - Long narrow included bubbles

Manufacturing Flaws - Pottery/Porcelain

Glaze Flaws

Glaze Pop - Small round hole in the glaze formed when a small bubble of glaze popped during firing.

Glaze Skip - A place where the glaze did not cover the pottery during manufacture. May show as unglazed pottery or may have a final, shiny glaze over it.

Kiln Marks

Stilt Marks - Tiny unglazed bubbles on the underside of pottery that was suspended on stilts during firing. There are usually three in a triangular pattern.

Kiln Kiss - A small spot where the piece touched another piece in the kiln, leaving a small “pimple”.

Click here to view examples of common defects and flaws. UNDER CONSTRUCTION!
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