Carnival Glass

Carnival Glass

Once considered “Poor Man’s Tiffany”, carnival glass has its own enthusiastic following, and the glass, especially in red and blue remains popular. By 1905, glass manufacturers were cranking out inexpensive versions of the iridescent glass that had been made wildly popular by Tiffany Studios, but the name carnival glass wasn’t used until 45 or so years later. The popular glass made in the U.S. Australia, Europe, and Argentina, was sold cheaply, and given away as prizes at carnivals.

Carnival Glass Featured Tiffany Effects for Mass Market Prices

At the turn of the 20th century, Louis Comfort Tiffany was producing his popular but pricey iridescent glass for eager and wealthy buyers. Production glass makers such as Imperial, Northwood, Fenton, Dugan/Diamond, and Brockwitz, (a German manufacturer) and others soon developed a method of spraying mass produced pressed glass pieces with metallic salts to produce shimmering effects for the mass market.

Carnival Glass Colors

The most popular colors during the carnival glass craze were marigold (orange) and amethyst (purple). These were made in vast quantities, so today pieces in these colors are easily found and go for lower sums. Harder to find are pieces in amber, grey-blue, or with a marbleized effect that looks like tortoiseshell. Fenton Glass produced red, the rarest color, in 1920.

Carnival Glass by Fenton & Northwood

The Fenton and Northwood companies, both of West Virginia, were the major U.S. manufacturers of carnival glass. Early Fenton and antique carnival glass is usually unmarked, although the company reissued some pieces in the 1960s using original molds. These are marked with a script Fenton inside an oval. Northwood marked most, but not all of its pieces on the bottom with an underlined N. Sometimes the N was inside a circle, and more rarely, inside a double circle. Northwood’s Grape and Cable pattern is one of its best known, and is found on everything from oversized bowls to hat pin holders. Fenton’s Dragon and Lotus pattern was one of that company’s most popular.

Fenton Carnival glass cherry red Dragon & Lotus, eight ruffled bowl, red iridescent
p4A item D9738226

Carnival Glass Values

Collectors with investment on their minds look for large or unusually shaped pieces in rare colors. Large bowls, or flat platters command the highest sums as they were harder to manufacture, and are now harder to find. Small, common, or badly executed pieces in common colors bring the lowest prices.

Carnival Glass is a piece of Americana finding favor with collectors with both large and modest budgets. Look for larger pieces in unusual colors. For investment value, collectors of smaller pieces should look for items in perfect condition.

-by p4A Contributing Editor Susan Cramer.

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