The popularity of collecting Carnival Glass has resurged in recent years. Contemporary pieces are readily available at cheap prices. However, the vintage Carnival Glass is really what is popular with collectors. To offer you some useful information on this American art form, I will discuss the history, manufacture, and value of this colorful art glass.
Carnival Glass History
In the late 19th century, Tiffany & Company and Steuben Art Glass produced a costly hand-blown iridized glass that was very popular with their wealthy clientèle. This glass was hand made and commanded extremely high prices. In 1907, the Fenton Art Glass Company began to mass-produce a high-quality and low-cost iridized glass, similar in appearance to the items crafted by Tiffany and Steuben. The Fenton iridized glass was available in numerous colors, including a unique red. Fenton was not the only manufacturer of iridized glass, but it was the largest producing the colorful glass in over 150 patterns.
Due to the economic hardships of the Great Depression, iridized glass lost its popularity. The inventory of this glassware was subsequently deeply discounted and commonly given away in cereal and supermarket promotions. In addition, the glassware was given away in carnival games, hence, the subsequent name Carnival Glass.
The popularity of iridized glass resurged in the 1950’s with collectors and antique dealers and it was during this period that this glassware gained the name Carnival Glass. Today, Carnival Glass is still manufactured by Fenton, and several other companies.
Other Carnival Glass Manufacturers
Fenton, Northwood, Imperial Glass, Westmoreland and Dugan are just a few companies that have manufactured carnival glass. Some of these manufacturers stamped their pieces with a distinctive mark. However, most other manufacturers did not mark their goods leaving some vintage pieces impossible to authenticate. Today, because of high manufacturing costs, few of these manufacturers still remain.
What Is Carnival Glass Worth?
The vintage Carnival Glass manufactured early in the twentieth century is, by far, the most valuable, and sought after pieces. Color and condition play a large role in determining value. Chips, cracks, mold marks, repairs reduce the value. If an item is a rare color like aqua it is of more value than an item in marigold that is plentiful. The red Carnival Glass manufactured by Fenton is very rare, and often commands a very high price. Carnival Glass punch bowl sets, because they consist of multiple items, sell for a premium if complete with all pieces.
Traditional venues such as flea markets and antique shops have been the primary source for vintage carnival glass. Today, take a look at eBay for thousands of listings of both vintage and carnival glass at great prices. Remember, one persons trash is another persons treasure.
It is so ironic that at one point in time Fenton Carnival Glass was so common, it could hardly be given away. Today, some vintage pieces sell for thousands of dollars. However, if you spend some time looking for this beautiful glass, you are likely to find some real bargains.