Notes on Depression and Carnival Glass for the World War Two Reenactor
Cut Glass (1880-mid 1910s)
Is produced by hand-cutting glass. Cut glass used to contain heavy amounts of lead and to get the right designs glass-makers would add crystal or “flint” to it. Cut glass is used primarily for tableware and comes in many styles. Most glassware was signed with the name of the producer, etched into the glass. Reproductions of cut-glass tend to have signatures embossed.
Carnival Glass (1900s-1930)
Carnival Glass is pressed glassware produced in the 1900s-1930. The glass came in many colors including brights (like red, green, blue, purple, etc.) and pastel colors (like clear, white, smoke, lavender, and opalescent). The pastel colors have less of a finish. Red is the most highly collectible color as it required fair amounts of gold oxides to produce it. Marigold is the most widely available color. When the depression hit and glass styles changed producers of carnival glass gave it away to…carnivals as prizes.
It was sprayed with a metallic finish that made it look oily in nature. Five companies produced the majority of it in the US.
1. Fenton Art Glass Co. of Williamstown WV
2. Imperial Glass Corporation of Bellaire, OH
3. Millersburg Glass Company of Millersburg, OH
4. Northwood Glass Company of Wheeling, WV
5. Dugan Glass Company of Indiana, PA
Depression Glass (1920s-1930s extending to 1970s):
Cheaply produced colored glassware as automation and industrialization finally caught up to glassmaking. This glassware was marketed for middle-income and working-class Americans. This glassware came with purchases from stores or mail-order catalogs. Glassware was of any kind including bowls, shakers, dishes (all kinds), creamers, sugars, vases, jars, pitchers, measuring cups etc. Pink is the most common glass color, followed by Green and Amber. The rarer Depression glass colors are red, black, cobalt blue, and yellow. The rarest types of Depression Glass are the ones that incorporate glass bases for citrus juices (reamers).
Fiestaware (1936 to 1970)
Fiestaware is brightly colored pottery. It was produced from 1936 to 1973. It was re-started in 1986. Collectors seek the original colors: Red, Yellow, Cobalt, Light-Green, Ivory, Turquoise. Fiesta Red was pulled from the market in 1943 as it used uranium to help create its color and the uranium was needed for the war effort. Chartreuse(gray and rose-colored) was added as a color scheme in the 1950s and earthy tones arrived by the 1970s. The rarest color is medium green.
Cambridge Glass Company of Cambridge, OH:
Produced glass from the early 1900s-1950s. Focused mostly on crystal or cut glass. Can find designs of stars, swirls, squares, etc. Produced mostly bowls, plates, tumblers, and cocktail glasses. Most collectible of Cambridge Glass are the Square Series produced shortly before it went out of business. Would eventually be bought by Imperial Glass.
This company began reproducing Carnival glass in the 1960s using some of the original molds, however, the difference between period-correct carnival glass and Imperial Glass Reproductions is that the new glass is marked IG at the bottom.
Produced Carnival and then Depression glass. Before 1970 most Fenton glass had a sticker. If no sticker look for an absence of the pontil mark (typically seen as a dimple, chipped-looking section, or lumpy bump that indicates the punty rod was detached from the glass as it was cooling). Fenton Glass used a different kind of punty rod that left clean breaks. After 1970, Fenton glass will mark the piece of an “F” or “Fenton” somewhere on the item
Heisey Glass (1860s-1957):
Produced Art Glass, Cut-Glass, and Carnival Glass. The symbol is an “H” inside a diamond.
Produced all kinds of glassware but not much of Carnival or Depression. Glass marked with the word “Libbey”
Westmoreland Glass (1890-1985):
Produced some carnival and depression but mainly milk glass. Early Westermoreland marks were a “W” within what appears to be an upside-down lampshade. The intertwined “W” and “G” were not developed until 1949. In 1983, all Westmoreland glass was marked “Westmoreland.”
Anchor-Hocking and Fire King:
Jeannette Glass Company
MacBeth-Evans Glass Company
US Glass Company
Hazel Atlas Company
Indiana Glass Company
Fostoria Glass Company
Federal Glass Company
Paden City Glass Company
McKee Glass Company
L.E. Smith Company
Lancaster Glass Company
US Company (?)
Belmont Tumbler Company
Diamond Glass-ware Company
Homer-Laughlin China Company-Fiesta Ware
1.Florence, Gene.1999. The Pocket Guide to Depression Glass and More: 1920s-1960s. 11th Ed. Collector Books. This is a Good source that puts pictures with the different pattern types.
2. Pickvet, Mark. 1996. Collecting Glassware. Alliance Publishers. This is a general overview of glass history, glass styles, glass companies.