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Collecting Depression Glass for Beginners

Green Depression Glass

More than their rarity or worth, Depression glass collections are prized for their beauty. 

Depression Glass History

During the Great Depression, Glassware was an important aspect of the Depression Era’s history. The Great Depression began in 1929 with the stock market crash and lasted into the 1930s.

Depression glass earned its name because it was the glass produced during that time period.

What Is Depression Era Glass?

The National Depression Glass Association (NDGA) defines Depression glass as transparent glassware produced in the United States from the early 1920s until 1945, when World War II ended. 

The majority of the time, this transparent glass was colored. A piece of glass may only be classified as Depression glass if it was made during this time period.

Depression Glass Manufacturing

The majority of this glass was mass-produced in bulk by machine and sold at five-and-dime stores or given away as promotional gifts for other products at the time.

At local movie theaters, gas stations, and grocery stores, Depression glass was frequently bundled in cereal boxes, flour bags, or given out as gifts.

It brought families together at mealtimes and provided a splash of color in the darkest of times.

Depression Glass Manufacturers

Between 1923 and 1939, there were seven major glass makers.

  • Federal Glass Company – From approximately 1927 through 1938, the Federal Glass Company developed new glassware patterns.
  • Jeanette Glass Company – The iconic Adam and Windsor patterns were designed by the Jeanette Glass Company.
  • Hazel-Atlas Glass Company – From 1930 until 1938, the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company introduced new patterns.
  • Hocking Glass Company – Hocking Glass Company was one of the largest Depression glass manufacturers in the United States. In 1937, they changed their name to Anchor Hocking.
  • Indiana Glass Company – From 1923 through 1933, Indiana Glass Company produced the first four Depression glass types and offered new glassware patterns for ten years.
  • Macbeth-Evans Glass Company – The Macbeth-Evans Glass Company was acquired by Corning in 1936 and is well known for the pink design “American Sweetheart.”
  • U.S. Glass Company – Between 1927 and 1932, the US Glass Company produced a limited number of new patterns.

Two Classes of Depression Glass

It is widely accepted that Gene Florence was the first to separate Depression glass into two distinct categories.

  • After it’s been removed from the mold, hand-finishing is a big part of creating elegant glass.
  • Elegant glass was produced by fewer, smaller enterprises known as “hand houses” because of the additional labor and attention to detail required.
  • When it comes to Depression-era glasses, there is no hand-finishing. In most cases, the dishes were given away as promotional items after being taken out of the molds.

The Appeal of Depression Glass

The history of Depression-era glass is being preserved thanks to organizations like the NDGA and different Depression-era glass clubs across the country.

Glass is adored by collectors because of its history and beauty. There are others who believe that the beautiful glass that brought families together during the depression era still brings families together today.

Identifying Depression Glass

It can be difficult to tell genuine Depression glass from fakes because there are more than 100 styles from around 20 different producers. It’s possible to learn about Depression-era glass identification from a number of sources.

Mauzy’s Depression Glass, written by Barbara and Jim Mauzy, is a great book on the subject. You can also learn about Depression glass by attending events and chatting to experts in the field.

How to Identify Depression Glass

To positively identify a piece of glassware, you must first examine its pattern, color, and type, and then conduct research on recognized collections from known manufacturers. These tips only apply to Depression glass, not Elegant glass.

  • As a rule, the designs are not etched but rather slightly raised.
  • Depression-era glass may have raised seams because of its rapid manufacturing process.
  • It is uncommon for a maker’s mark to be found on depression glass.
  • The majority of Depression-era glass was not iridescent.’
  • Milk glass is a little thicker than opaque white Depression glass.
  • When you can, use a piece of paper to trace the outline of objects like plates so that you may compare the silhouette to other well-known silhouettes.
  • Make a list of the motif’s specifics so that you can distinguish it from others of its kind.
  • The distinctive patterns of most manufacturers are documented, so you can use the pattern to match the piece to a known manufacturer of Depression glass.
  • It is common for reproductions to be scratch-proof and flawless.

Typical Flaws in Depression Glass

As a result of the mass production of Depression-era glassware, you’ll notice minor faults that don’t affect the value. Scratches and chips are common features of Depression-era glassware. If you see any of the following flaws:

  • Bubbles in the glass
  • Inconsistent coloring
  • Flaws from the molds

Depression Glass Colors and Patterns

During the Great Depression, nearly every hue of glass was produced. The following colors are available:

  • Amber
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Yellow
  • Pink
  • Amethyst
  • Red
  • Black
  • White
  • Crystal

Collectible Depression Glass

Depression glass comes in a variety of colors, patterns, and makers. Each person has his or her own unique collection of Depression glass items, from plates to salt and pepper shakers and even entire sets.

  • Glass and glass collecting have their own distinct personalities, much like people. Collect only the pieces of glass that you truly enjoy.
  • Collectible glass should only be purchased if it is labeled as “mint”. There are no chips, scratches, or repairs to the glass in this glassware.
  • Before purchasing glass, be sure to inquire about any defects or repairs that may have been made. A respectable dealer will be more than happy to assist and answer any queries that the collector may have about their purchases.

Most Popular Depression Glass Colors

Depression glass’ popularity varies throughout time.

  • The most popular hues at the period of manufacture were yellow and amber, hence massive quantities of yellow and amber glass were produced.
  • There seems to be a preference for depression glass in pink, green, and blue today.
  • The scalloped margins of Hocking’s Princess pattern make it popular.
  • One of the most popular Depression glass patterns is the Royal Lace design, with the cobalt blue variant taking the top spot.Most Valuable Depression Glass Colors

When it comes to Depression-era glass colors, those that were produced in small batches are the most expensive. The value of Depression glass is affected by supply, demand, and where you buy it in the United States.

  • For a short period of time, various companies ran an alexandrite color that was lavender but changed hues in the light.
  • Glass manufacturer Heisey produced a tangerine-colored product for a short period of time that was unpopular at the time.
  • Pink and yellow Hocking Cameo patterns were only created for a short time.
  • The type of dish is equally as important as the color in determining the value of Depression glass.
  • Depression glass that has been printed or has several colors can be extremely valuable.

Rare Depression Glass

There is a difference between rare and hard-to-find glass in terms of rarity. In most Depression glass patterns, there are one or more pieces that are difficult to get. That doesn’t mean they’re particularly unusual.

  • Because only a few of these pieces were produced, rare glass is a piece that is rarely seen.
  • To determine the piece’s rarity, you need to know the history of the design and producer.
  • At one of the NDGA Conventions, a Pink Cherry Blossom cookie jar was on exhibit and was one of the rarest pieces.

Tips for Depression Glass Collectors

You don’t have to choose a piece based on its value if you’re a collector of Depression glass. Love for the piece will remain even if the price fluctuates.

Get to Know Your Glass

It’s not just about having nice things when you collect Depression-era glassware; it’s also a way of learning about the past. You should try to have the ability to describe every aspect of your dishes and that you spend time researching Depression glass to find out what pattern your item is as well as who made it and when it was produced.

Start With One Set

Beginners may benefit from consulting guidebooks and picking out specific patterns, manufacturers, or objects they want to collect. After that, you can embark on a search for them. As an alternative, you may go to an antiques store and look for the rest of the original set.

Shop In Person When Possible

It’s best to see Depression glass in person because of the necessity to observe all the intricate details both on the inside and exterior of the glass. If you don’t have access to an antique store or a similar venue, make sure you obtain numerous close-up images of a piece before you buy it.

How to Use and Care for Your Depression Glass

Glassware manufactured during the Great Depression was meant to be used and enjoyed by families. Because of this, you can use your Depression-era glasses as intended.

  • Make sure you don’t microwave this glass because it was produced before the introduction of the microwave.
  • You shouldn’t put the glass in the oven or on the cooktop, though, because it can be damaged by heat.
  • In general, hand washing is preferable, but occasional use of a dishwasher is safe.

Storing and Displaying Your Depression Glass

It’s entirely up to you how you intend to utilize, store, or display your glass. Glass should be placed where it may be appreciated. Store in cardboard boxes or plastic containers by wrapping each component in simple paper or cloth or bubble wrap.

Glass can be damaged by sudden temperature changes, so keep it in a place where the temperature is stable.

Get Your Own Depression Glass

Your family and close friends are the best places to start when collecting Depression glass. Chances are, someone in your family possesses a piece of Depression-era glassware. 

You can find Depression glass on eBay, Etsy, in antique auctions both online and in the real world, or in antique shops. Make sure to include the piece’s history and identification information with the item if you know it so that your heirs know what it is when you pass it on.

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