Tortoise shell glassware has been a luxury item dating back to the Egyptians. The Egyptians used to sell tortoise shell luxuries to the Romans for decorative items. It became popular again when Napoleon conquered Egypt and took back with him artifacts of ancient Egypt which then influenced design at that time in general. It is interesting to note that tortoise shell is not from real tortoise but rather from the Hawksbill turtle which are land based. Faux Imitation tortoise shell was first created in glass in the 1880s. The complex process involves three layers of glass which produces the beautiful amber patterns. Later faux tortoise shell was developed out of plastic and in Bakelite in the early 1920's which saved these turtles from extinction because the mass popularity of the pattern. Today it is illegal to use real tortoiseshell in most parts of the world which is a good thing because no luxuries should cost a living thing its life. Today we can enjoy God's great design seen in creation without causing harm to these precious creatures.
(Alessandra Branca Closet, Pier 1 Tortoise Shell Wine)
Designer Alessandra Branca
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