Federal's Madrid Pattern (1932-39)

by Joyce Nichols
Volume 26 No. 9 - May 2000

Many times as I sit down to write the "Pattern of the Issue" article for the News & Views newsletter, I really wonder if anybody ever reads the article. Who reads it and why? Well, just yesterday, as I was reminded by the Editor that it was that time again, I went down a few spaces on my mail list and opened another e-mail that said: "Thanks. I enjoy reading your articles." That note inspired me for this month's article. The request was to review the Madrid pattern. So here goes!!

Madrid depression era glass was manufactured from 1932 to 1939 by one of the most prolific glass companies of that era, Federal Glass Co.

Federal Glass Co. originated in Columbus, Ohio, in 1900 as a hand operation. By the 1920s, Federal was a big supplier of machine-made tumblers and pitchers. By the 1930s, they became one of the leaders in making machine-pressed and mold-etched dinnerware in the collectible colors we so cherish today - green, pink, amber, and blue.

Many popular patterns emerged and one very popular one was "Madrid." The Madrid pattern boasts complete table settings with pieces of all sizes to meet your every need. Along with plates bowls, cups and saucers, sherbets, tumblers, and the like, came many accessory pieces like pitchers, cookie jars, salt and peppers, and serving pieces. A good reference guide will give you a complete listing and the average price that you would expect to pay for each piece.

As is true with most patterns, there are pieces that are hard to find and command high prices. In Madrid, these premium pieces are the ash tray, Lazy Susan with inserts or coasters, and the elusive gravy boat and tray.

Far too many times, a reissue or reproduction takes some of the joy out of collecting for many and adds confusion and frustration to those who are not seasoned collectors.

In 1976, Federal Glass Co. reissued the Madrid pattern in amber for the Bicentennial under the name "Recollections" and it was dated "1976." This reissue caused not too much concern to collectors, because the new glass was marked and could be distinguished from the old.

When Federal went bankrupt a few years later, Indiana Glass bought the molds for the 1976 "Recollections" and this is when collecting problems began for Madrid collectors. The 1976 was removed from the molds and Indiana Glass began making crystal "Recollections." Soon a paler pink than the original and a harsher blue than the original emerged. Then teal was added. These wares were marketed as having been made from old depression glass molds when, in reality, they were made from the 1976 molds, not the originals from the twenties and the thirties.

Indiana put pieces together to make new items. Goblets, vases, and the footed cake plate were never made originally. The combination of candle holders and other pieces made these new items.

In pink, beware of new cups, saucers, and the oval vegetable bowl. The best advice is Know Your Dealer!'

If you choose to collect blue Madrid your job is bigger. Get yourself a good reference book, find yourself a good reputable dealer, and be very cautious as you set out to assemble a set of the original blue.

Madrid in amber is a safe old pattern to collect and is plentiful in most of the pieces.

Candle holders pose the biggest problem to differentiate between the old and the new. The new ones have ridges inside the candle cup to hold the candles more firmly. The old ones do not.

If Madrid is your passion, educate yourself, get yourself a good reference book, and go for it.