Collecting Carnival Glass

The much loved iridized coating that creates carnival glass began appearing in the early 1900’s. Carnival glass is pressed with the use of a mold. Iron molds are used to create the beautiful patterns while the glass is in molten form. Once cooled, metallic salts are sprayed onto the glass that gives it the wonderful multi-color coating.

There are other types of glass that is iridized, some date back for thousands of years. Many of these old pieces were merely iridized from chemicals found in the soil in which they were buried for centuries. But, the manufacturing process of carnival glass didn’t start until Fenton began producing the pieces in 1907.

Not only was Fenton the first to introduce carnival glass, they also were the ones to introduce the most popular color, red! Fenton didn’t manufacturer any carnival glass from the early 30’s through to the 70’s. They continue to make pieces in carnival glass today, the company uses original molds, new molds and molds purchased from other companies.

Northwood followed Fenton with their own line of iridized glass pieces in 1908. Their pieces known as Golden Iris were all done in a color that is now referred to as marigold. However, the company soon added green, cobalt blue and amethyst to the line.

Carnival Glass Pitcher
Carnival Glass Pitcher

Northwood’s aqua was probably their most popular color. Aqua was added around 1912 when the company also added a pastel line. The company is best known for their highly popular grape and cable design, the pieces were so popular that the company produced the design in over 60 shapes and many colors. Pieces are recognizable by the underlined “N”, but not all pieces were marked. Harry Northwood died in 1918 and the company shut down in the early 20’s.

Considered some of the best quality carnival glass, Millersburg was only in production for two years. The company was owned by John Fenton, president of Fenton Glass! He wanted his own glass facility and opened the factory in 1909 in Millersburg, Ohio. Although, John Fenton was good at promoting products, his business sense was lacking and the company filed bankruptcy in 1911 and closed for good in 1912.

While Millersburg glass became renown for their radium colored pieces, Imperial is best known for their amazing purple, their smoke color and their Helios which is a light or medium green glass with a silver iridescence.

Imperial produced pieces until 1972 when Lenox bought the company. Imperial’s logo was an “IG” mark, Lenox added and “L” to the logo when they purchased the company. The company was then sold to Arthur Lorch in 1981 and an “A” was then added to the LIG marking. The company was resold a year later, then went out of business the following year.

Carnival glass pieces are highly sought after pieces today. One rare plate in Northwood’s ice blue color sold for over $16,000 on an online auction site! One private collector bought a full collection $6.5 million dollars! Some smaller less rare pieces are generally worth several hundreds of dollars, but larger pieces normally go for thousands.

Written by Connie Corder, Copyright 2008

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