Applied glass is a technique in which decorative parts were applied to the main body of a piece of glassware while both were still hot. Therefore, an applied handle is a handle which has been applied to a glass piece using this technique. Not too hard of a concept, eh?
I’m not sure why collectors like to know if the handles are applied or not, but I’ve got a good guess. Pressed glass is an assembly line procedure in which molds are used. There isn’t a whole lot of skill involved. However, when a glass blower creates each piece individually, there is a lot more talent and time that goes into it. The same thing goes for an applied handle – it takes time and talent to apply it. Therefore, pieces with this “accessory” are much more valuable.
Here are two different examples of pieces that have applied handles. In the second example, I provide close-ups of the handle so you’ll be able to recognize it if you ever see it on your own!