Thursday, July 7, 2016

Depression Glass

My mother would reminisce how as a kid, she and her siblings would use it as a target for throwing rocks when they would visit the field the locals used as their dump. Her memories about this beautiful and colored glass made me rather - - depressed.

Depression Glass is a colored, yet translucent glassware that was distributed free, or for a few pennies, around the time of the Great Depression from the 1920's and even into early World War II. This glassware was often seen in colors of amber, green, pink, soft blue, and sometimes clear. 
Some of the less common colors were yellow (often referred to as "Vaseline" glass), Jadeite (opaque pale green), red (ruby), amethyst, and a white milk glass. 
Floral aka Poinsettia by Jeannette Glass Company
The patterned glass was often incentives to purchase products such as the Quaker Oats Company, and sometimes gas stations with a "fill-up." Movie theaters would hand out a piece simply for coming in the door. An antique dealer once told me that often at the end of the movie, when the patrons would stand up, you would hear the crash of glass breaking as the patrons would sometimes forget the piece of glass was on their lap. 
Sharon aka Cabbage Rose by Federal Glass Company
Most of this colored glassware was made in the Ohio River Valley, where access to raw materials and power made manufacturing inexpensive in the first half of the twentieth century. There were more than twenty manufacturers making collectively more than 100 patterns, and some patterns were made into entire dinner sets with serving pieces.  Some of the more popular Depression glass producers included: Anchor Hocking Glass Company, Federal Glass Company, Hazel-Atlas Glass Company, Jeannette Glass Company, and Imperial Glass Company to name a few - - and each company making at least five to ten different patterns to collect.
Floral & Diamond Band by U.S. Glass Company
Depression glass has been highly collectible since the 1960's, but I started collecting it in the late 1970's and mainly concentrated on the pink Floral (aka Poinsettia), amber Cabbage Rose (aka Sharon),  green Floral & Diamond Band, and the blue and also red "Bubble." And of course, there are a few other serving pieces from other patterns that I use to "mix and match." 
Blue Bubble by Anchor-Hocking 
Although of marginal quality; such as thick glass, and definite rough manufactured edges, it is still highly collectible with rare pieces fetching a few hundred dollars.  Some patterns, such as the pink "Cherry Blossom" were reproduced in the 1990's. It's a buyer beware on price, but the reproductions serves a purpose if wanting to complete a set of some of the serving pieces. You don't see Depression glass as much as I use to 30 years ago, but I have noticed it is coming back around. No doubt back re-circulating because of estate sales of former collectors. 

Looking for a good reference on Depression glass? Might I recommend any book by Gene Florence. While many of his books were published 20 years ago, he has a few current ones. However, even the old ones will still have the information about the glass companies and patterns, which is all you really need to know. Price? It varies and will depend what you are willing to pay and where. 
Ruby Red Bubble by Anchor-Hocking
(This comes out during the holidays)
Do I use my Depression glass? Absolutely! Although it sits rather regal in its own antique cabinet, I still take it out and use it. My motto: If I don't use it and enjoy it (and even accidentally break it), then someone in the future will. 


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