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What is Carnival Glass?

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DragonCherry3

Dragon & Lotus by Fenton

Cherry by Dugan

Three Fruits by Northwood

Marigold Bowl

Marigold Bowl

Marigold Bowl

 

Carnival Glass

 

Carnival glass is pressed and iridized glass manufactured between 1905 and 1930.  Various companies in the United States, England, France, Germany, Australia, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, and Finland made it.

 

The iridization, unlike the costly art glass produced by Tiffany and his competitors, was achieved by a spray process on the surface of the glass before firing, thus, producing a very beautiful product at a greatly reduced cost, giving everyone a quality product well within their budget.

 

In addition, carnival glass was the last hand-shaped glass mass-produced in America and remains as a beautiful reminder of the glassmakers skill.

 

Fruits and FlowersHollyQuestion Marks

Fruits and Flowers by Northwood

Holly by Fenton

Question Marks by Dugan

Blue BonBon

Dark Green Bowl

Amethyst BonBon

 

Color

 

To tell the true color of a piece of carnival glass, hold the piece to a strong light source.  The base color you see is the color of the piece.  The colors given off by the iridescence have little or nothing to do with the true color of the glass.  The pieces color is by far the most important feature and also sometimes the most difficult to classify.  Not all pieces come in all colors.     Here are a few of the basic colors.  Marigold is by the far the most used color in carnival glass.

 

Marigold

A golden yellow color (most look like old gold)

Amethyst

A purple color from quite light to quite dark

Green

A true green, not a pastel color

Blue

A true blue, not a pastel color

Peach Opalescent

Marigold with a milky (white or colored) edge

Aqua Opalescent

Ice blue with a milky (white or colored) edge

Pastel Colors

A satin (frosty) treatment in white, ice blue, ice green

Red

A true red, rare color but some were made

Black Amethyst

Very dark purple or black in color

Vaseline

Clear yellow/yellow-green glass, glows in black light

Clambroth

Pale ginger ale color

 

Fish Scales and BeadsStippled RaysPesian Medallion

Fish Scales & Beads by Dugan

Stippled Rays by Dugan

Persian Medallion by Fenton

Marigold Bowl

Green Bowl

Marigold BonBon

 

SHAPES

 

Bowls and plates are easy to understand, as are pitchers, tumblers, and vases; but even these have variations: bowls can be ruffled, unruffled (shallow unruffled bowls are called ice cream bowls), deep, or shallow.  Pitchers can be standard, smaller (milk pitcher), taller (tankard), or squat.  Tumblers can be standard size, tall (lemonade), or small (juice), even as small as a shot glass.  Vases can range in size from tiny 4 bud vases to monster 22 sizes called funeral vases (any vase over 16 tall is considered a funeral vase).  Vases may be straight topped, flared, or JIP (jack-in-the-pulpit) shaped with one side down and one side up.  In addition there are table sets, consisting of a creamer, sugar, covered butter dish, and spooner (a spooner has no lid).  There are decanters and stemmed goblets of several sizes; rose bowls, evident by the lips being pulled in equally around the top of the piece; candy dishes that have the rims flared out; and nut bowls that have the rim standing straight up.  There are banana boats that are pulled up on two sides, baskets that have handles, bob-bons that have handles on opposite sides, and nappies with only one handle.  In addition there are berry sets (small and large bowls that are deep and usually come with one large bowl and six small ones), orange bowls (large footed bowl that holds fruit), handled mugs, and plates (these are shallow without any bowl effect, coming straight out from the base and no higher from base to rim than 2).  Specialized shapes include candlesticks, hatpins, hatpin holders (footed piece with the rim turned in to hold hatpins), epergnes (pieces that hold flower lilies), card trays (flattened bon-bons or nappies), toothpick holders, cracker and cookie jars with lids, stemmed compotes (or comports as they were originally called), hair receivers, powder jars with lids, as well as many, many novelties that include paper-weights, animal novelties, and wall pocket vases.  Finally we have punch bowl sets, which consist of a punch bowl, standard or with base, and matching cups.

 

These are all the general shapes of carnival glass.  In addition there are many, many specialty shapes that include light shades, marbles, beads, beaded purses, odd whimsy shapes of all sorts that have been fashioned from standard pieces, pin trays, dresser trays, pickle casters in metal frames, and brides baskets.  The list of shapes is almost endless and the beginner should study these and ask other collectors about odd pieces they cant identify.

 

The Big Five in Carnival Glass

 

 

The Dugan Glass Company

 

The Dugan Glass Company of Indiana, Pennsylvania, began production in April 14, 1892, calling itself the Indiana Glass Company.  It operated for less then a year before closing.  The vacant plant was first leased, and then purchased by Harry Northwood in 1895.  For the next two years it pored out a steady stream of Northwood glass till Northwood decided to join the glass combine and moved his operation.  Northwood leased the Indiana plant to its managers, who changed the name to Dugan Glass Company (also called the American Glass Company).

 

Dugan produced basically the same sort of glass as Northwood until 1913 when the name was changed again to the Diamond Glass Company.  During this time many Northwood moulds were reworked, a trademark with a D within a diamond was registered, and most of the carnival glass from the company was produced under the supervision of Thomas Dugan.

 

The plant operated until 1931 when it was destroyed by fire and never rebuilt because of the Depression that gripped the country and the industry.

 

The Fenton Glass Company

 

Founded in 1905, the Fenton Glass Company was opened in Martins Ferry, Ohio, in an abandoned factory rented by Frank Fenton and his brother, John (who was later to found the famous Millersburg Glass Company).  It took the company until 1907 for it to become fully productive.

 

From the first, the design abilities of Frank were obvious, and each pattern seemed to bear his own special flair.

 

In 1908 friction arose between the brothers, and John exited to pursue his dreams in Millersburg, Ohio.  By this time, the Fenton process of iridization had taken the mass-scale art glass field by storm and carnival glass was on its way.

 

For the next 15 years, the Fenton Glass Company would produce the largest number of patterns ever in carnival glass, and huge amounts of iridized glass would be sent to the four corners of the world to brighten homes.  Fenton made many other types of glass at their plant but nothing surpassed the quality and quantity of their iridized glass.  Almost 150 patterns are credited to the company in carnival glass alone, and many more probably credited to others may be of Fenton origin.

 

The Imperial Glass Company

 

 

Imperial Glass Company was founded in 1901 but it wasnt until 1904 till the first glass was produced; and not until nearly five years later that the first iridized glass was made.

 

In 1909, Imperial introduced their iridescent line of blown lead luster articles as well as the Nuruby, Sapphire, and Peacock colors of carnival glass.

 

Huge quantities of iridized glass was designed, manufactured, and sold to the mass marketplace across America and the European Continent for the next decade in strong competition with the other art glass factories.

 

In quality Imperial must be ranked second only to Millersburg and certainly in design, is on an equal with Northwood.  Only Fenton produced more recognized patterns and has outlasted them in longevity (Imperial became a subsidiary of Lenox in 1973).

 

In the early 60s, the company revived some of its old moulds and reproduced many of the old iridized patterns as well as creating a few new ones for the market that once again was invaded by carnival glass fever.

 

The Millersburg Glass Company

 

 

In 1908 with the Fenton Art Glass Company going strong, the brothers Frank and John clashed over company policy.  John went looking for a new location for a glass plant of his own.  John found a good location in Millersburg, Ohio

 

On May 20, 1909, the first glass was poured.  The initial moulds were designed by John and were Ohio Star and Hobstar and Feather both crystal patterns not carnival.  Carnival was also produced in the first month in amethyst, green and a soft marigold.

 

During the following years the Millersburg plant was at its zenith, and the Hipkins Mold Company made dozens of new moulds for them.  By late 1911 they wanted pay for the moulds made, as did many other creditors, and John Fenton found his finances a disaster.  The plant was kept producing, but bankruptcy was filed and the factory sold in late 1911 renaming it the Radium Glass Company.  The Jefferson Glass Company reused many of the moulds when they bought the plant when Radium folded.  Jefferson used the factory for a short time and again it was sold to a tire company who removed the furnace and great smoke stack.  Millersburg was no more.

 

The Northwood Glass Company

 

 

Harry Northwood came to America in 1880 and first worked at an old established glassmaker.  For five years, Harry remained there learning his craft and dreaming his dreams.

 

He worked at various other glass companies until 1896 when he formed the Northwood Company at Indiana, Pennsylvania.  His famous custard glass was one of the first lines produced at his new factory.

 

In 1901, he purchased Hobbs, Brockunier and Company, where he first started out in 1880.  For the next couple years, there were two Northwood plants.

 

Finally in 1904, he sold the Indiana, PA plant to its managers, which was later to become the Indiana Glass Company.

 

In 1908 Harry Northwood, following the success of his student Frank Fenton, in the iridized glass field, marketed his first Northwood iridescent glass, and Northwood carnival glass was born.  For the next 10 years carnival glass was the great American craze, and even at the time of Harry Northwoods death in 1919, small quantities were still being made.

    

Other American Companies

 

 

In addition to the five major producers of carnival glass in America, several additional companies produced amounts of iridized glass.

 

Cambridge Glass Company,

Cambridge, Ohio

Jenkins Glass Company,

Kokomo, Indiana

Westmoreland Glass Company,

Grapeville, Pennsylvania

Fostoria Glass Company,

Moundsville, West Virginia

Heisey Glass Company,

Newark, Ohio

McKee-Jeannette Glass Company,

Jeannette, Pennsylvania

U.S. Glass Company,

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

 

OLD Trademarks

 

Northwood, Imperial, Cambridge, Dugan-Diamond, Higbee, and Jeannette are trademarks on old glass that collectors will see.  All of these companies marked at least part of their production.  The dates for marking vary between 1904 and 1939, depending on the companys lifespan and when they first started making glass.

 

Old Marks

 

NEW Trademarks

 

New trademarks generally fall into two categories: marks intended to appear close enough to the old, well known trademark to fool buyers; or completely new trademark that bear no resemblance to the old one.

 

L.G. Wright and Mosser both have trademarks that resemble the old Northwood trademark and are used on many old carnival patterns, so BEWARE!  Other concerns are copying old patterns in opalescent and carnival glass with no markings at all. So please be cautious.

 

New Marks

 

The Fenton Company is the most responsible as far as new production identification.  Since Fenton never marked their items before 1971, any item marked with a trademark is newer then 1971.  (Old glass had paper labels, never imprinted in the glass.)

 

Fenton Marks

 

The Imperial Company began using their well-known IG mark on re-issue patterns in 1951 and continued till 1972.  From 1973 through 1981 Imperial was in receivership and items had a large L added to the IG trademark.  When Imperial was finally sold, an A was added to the L, IG trademark, this lasted from 1981 through 1982 when they went out of business.

 

Imperial Marks

 

VintagePansy

Vintage by Fenton

Pansy by Imperial

Marigold Bowl

Emerald Green Bowl

 

This information was abridged from the Standard Encyclopedia of Carnival Glass, 6th Edition. By Bill Edwards and Mike Carwile.

I highly recommend that this book be purchased as a reference and price guide for Carnival Glass.

 

 

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