Displays   |   Feedback   |   Links   |   Message Board   |   Shotglass Database   |  What Is A Shot Glass

Describing A Glass VS Classifying A Glass


I am not certain of the need to classify glasses, nor how to do it well, but I am certain of the need to be able to accurately describe a glass. I also know what needs to be different between two glasses for me to consider them to be different glasses. The Major characteristics that I look at are:

The "Description" is a list of the words and graphics that make up the design on the glass. When I write the description for a glass, I will list the words first, starting at the upper right and leading to the lower left (capitalizing the first letter of each word). Then comes a description of the images on the glass (if they were not already described in the words section).

an example or two.
A glass with the words "Cheap Shot" would be described as Cheap Shot - words -- the addition of the "- words" is not really needed, but without it, the reader is left with the thought that there might be more on the glass, but the description is incomplete.
A souvenir glass from Arizona with a picture containing a cactus to the left, a sun near the middle and a roadrunner near the right side would be described as Arizona - cactus, sun, roadrunner You might want to say that the word is above or below the picture -- Arizona - cactus, sun, roadrunner - name above picture but since most people want to keep descriptions as short as possible, they will probably not do this. Note that the word 'cactus' never appears on the glass, so it is all lower case.
A Souvenir glass from Mississippi with a drawing of the state flower that has a caption of 'state flower' and a picture of the state bird that has a caption of 'state bird' would be described as Mississippi - State Flower - State Bird The words 'State Bird' appear on the glass, so they are capitalized, and there is no need to say that there is a bird on the glass, since the words imply that there is one.

The "Design Color" is the colors in the design, in alphabetical order. If there are more than four colors, you can just put "multi" in this field.

The "Glass Color" is a description of the color of the material that the glass is made of. If the material is glass, and the color is "clear" or "crystal" then this can be left blank. Also, if the material is metal and the color is "unchanged" (pewter for pewter, silver for silver) then this can again be left blank.

The "Glass Manufacturer" is the name of the maufacturer whose mark is on the bottom of the glass. If the manufacturer is not known, then describe the mark. If the manufacturer is known through other sources, such as old company advertisements, then the manufacturer's name should be listed, followed by "(no mark)." (see my Manufacturers and Shapes Page for some descriptions of the different marks)

The "Glass Shape" is a general description of the shape of the glass. (see my Manufacturers and Shapes Page for some pictures and measurements of glasses of various shapes)

The "Material" is a description of what the glass is made of, if it is not made of glass. The two things that usually go here are "ceramic" or "metal." I usually put "metal" instead of "silver" or "pewter" because many of the metal vessels do not have marks that state what they are made of.

These six characteristics are fairly simple to determine, and they are how I describe a glass. Anyone following the rules above should come up with similar descriptions for the same glass. Of course there are going to be some differences -- is it a "girl" or a "woman" -- is it a "car" or and "automobile." I am working on taking photographs of the various glasses, so that descriptions are less important.


While it may be easy to describe a glass, classifying a glass is much harder. Placing a glass into the right category frequently requires additional information that does not appear on the glass. Even if the design contains enough information to determine a category, if the categories "overlap" in any way, it might be hard to determine which category is the "right" category.

One of the best examples of "category confusion" that I have seen is a glass that appears on page 151 of Pickvet's second book. The glass has a design that includes the word "Zenobia" in a curved, arabian sword. Pickvet did some historical research on "Zenobia" and determined that she was some historical figure from the middle east, so he classified this glass as "Foreign" meaning, not from the United States.

Something about the classification did not make sense to me, and since the shape of the glass is what we would call "Standard" for the United States, I decided to look for a better classification. The Sword and other parts of the design made me think of designs that are associated with the Freemasons. I did a little research and discovered that the Shrine Temple in Toledo Ohio is named "Zenobia"(you may have heard of the Shriner's Hospital for Crippled Children -- the same group). Pickvet is from Michigan, and since Michigan is closer to Ohio than to the middle east, I think that this glass is most likely an object related to a Shriner's Temple in Ohio.

Unfortunately, even with this new insite, the final classification of this glassis still not certain. Since the Shriners are an organization, would you classify this as belonging to an Organization or since it is from Ohio, would you classify it under the category of State or since it is from the city of Columbus, would you classify it as City. Another category that this might fall into is Advertising or since I know of a number of glasses that have weapons on them would we want to classify this with Weapons since a sword is a weapon?

Over the years, I have developed a number of categories that are based on what I heard people collect, and that people are likely to search my database for. I know a number of people who only collect glasses from the various states that they have visited -- they do not collect glasses for smaller divisions within a state. I have met people who only collect glasses that advertise Alcoholic beverages. I have met people who only collect glasses from The Hard Rock Cafe. I have met people who collect glasses that have animals on them. I have met people who only collect glasses associated with sports teams.

I no longer call these bits of additional information "categories," instead I call them "Keywords." The purpose of this additional information is to make it easier for people with a specific interest to find glasses that match that interest. I do not need to add "Hard Rock" to the Keywords for a glass from the Hard Rock Cafe since every glass from a Hard Rock Cafe contains the words "Hard Rock." But if I have a glass with a picture of a football helmet for the Dallas Cowboys, the description is "Dallas Cowboys - football helmet." Since the description contains the word "Dallas" and the word "football" anybody who searches for either of these words will find the glass. Somebody looking for "sports" glasses will not find it from the description, so I add "sport" to the Keywords (I use "sport" instead of "sports" because it will match a query for either "sport" or "sports")

The way that my database search works, I can have more than one Keyword for a glass, so that it will show up in all of the searches that I think are appropriate.

I have a basic spreadsheet with columns for each of these pieces of information. You can use it for your whole collection, or just use it for your duplicates. If you send me your list of duplicates in this format, I will create a page for you, so other collectors will know what you have to trade.
Shotglass spreadsheet Click on the link, then choose "File" then "Save as" and then give it a name such as shots.xls and location to save the file to. Then open the file in any spreadsheet application (Excel or Lotus 123) and fill in the columns. It is actually a tab-delimited file, so you can add data to it in any editor, just put tabs between the pieces of data.