Children's Glassware of the Depression Era

by Les Stewart
Volume 15 No. 1 - July/August 1988

Most collectors today have fond memories of their childhood. Some women can remember tea parties with their friends and dolls. And, didn't most of you guys get convinced you should join your sisters in a Moderntone set tea party? Most people still have memories of playing with children's glass dishes during their childhood. These memories have instilled a desire to find the glass they enjoyed playing with as a child.

Children's glassware of the depression era was once quite cheap to own. It was quite common in the depression era to buy a complete children's glass tea set for $l.98, or even less! Today, the same set could be worth anywhere from $60 to $400! The value would depend upon the pattern, color, condition, and how hard it is to locate. Today, all children's glassware of the depression era is extremely collectable. Well worth collecting for pleasure, or it can be an excellent investment for the knowledgeable collector.

Collecting children's glassware demands persistence because seldom can anything near a complete set of children's dishes be found. Various patterns consisted of different combinations of pieces. A complete set Childs set could consist of some combination of cups, saucers, plates, sugar, creamer, teapot & lid, water pitcher, tumblers and bowls. It is normal to start with one cup and try to finish a set.

It should be noted that complete sets can often be sold for more than the individual pieces would demand. Some collectors are just not willing to try to put together a set. Tea sets, that originally came as a boxed set, also go up in value when the original box can be found.

When trying to put together a set you cannot get away from color. The true Children's Depression Glass patterns came in the normal depression glass colors of pink, green, amber and clear. Children's depression glass tea sets are also available in some patterns in highly collectable teal green and pale blue. Depression glass children's sets are easier to collect than some other types because these sets are sold in one complete color and not mixed within a set, If your starting cup is pink, you'd try to finish a pink set. The patterns are also easier to identify to the collector of depression glass, since it can be the same pattern as their adult glass collection.

Only a limited few of the depression glass patterns offered children's sets. The patterns of children's depression glass included Little Hostess set such names as: Cherry Blossom; Doric & Pansy; Homespun; Laurel; and Moderntone. Some, like Moderntone's "Little Hostess Party Dishes" and Doric & Pansy's "Pretty Pony Party Dishes," also gave their items additional names. Each of the depression glass patterns have a very distinct design that is easy to identify.

Another type of children's glass of the depression era is Akro Agate. The Akro Agate Company got their start making juniors marbles of that period. They also made a lot of marbleized appearing giass in adult size dishes and lamps. The color issue sure gets complicated when collecting the Akro Agate glass sets. They produced sets of one color, similar to the depression glass patterns. They also produced sets in two colors, such as pink and blue; and, it is not uncommon to find sets that came in multiple colors. They made pieces in colored see-through glass, and also in marbleized appearing items.

The Akro Agate collector is further troubled by the many patterns that were made. There are many different patterns you can collect. Some Akro Agate set have designs only on the outside, inside, or on both sides of the piece. The Akro Agate can be more fun to collect because of the ability to mix and match colors within a pattern and the degree of difficulty in finding some patterns.

Depression era childrens glassware is being made/reproduced today. There is a company making children's glass today in the depression glass Cameo pattern. Since the original depression glass Cameo pattern never had any children's pieces, this is considered new glass and not reproduction. The knowledgeable collector will be aware of this and understand the difference. There is another company remaking the Cherry Blossom children's glassware. These pieces are considered to be a reproduction. As such, they are greatly disliked by most depression collectors. Reproductions, although usually of poor quality and relatively easy to identify, can drive down the value of real depression glass. Children's depression glass dishes are becoming one of the most collectahie items of the depression era today. This is a sure warning flag that a less moral company will reproduce it. Just another reason to study the hobby and seek help from established collectors before jumping in.

Today, what is left of children's antique glassware is highly sought after by collectors. Since much of the available children's antique glass was made during the depression era, many members of local Depression Glass Clubs are active children's glass collectors.

In the Colorado Springs area there is a club (the Pikes Peak Depression Glass Club) that is dedicated to the collecting and Akro Agate set preservation of Depression Era glass. Their members come from all over the Colorado Springs metro area, Monument and Widefield. There are also Colorado sister clubs in Denver and Springfield.

The depression era children's glass has been well documented by books such as, Colored Glassware of the Depression Era by Hazel Marie Weatherman; and Collector's Encyclopedia of Depression Glass by Gene Florence. There are also books on Akro Agate and other types of children's glass. Books have become not only sources of information, but true guidelines in establishing prices and authenticity. One reason beginning collectors should consider joining a Depression Glass Club is that clubs have many of these reference books for members. Save your money to buy glass!

Quite often the best place to find children's glassware is at the Depression Era Glass shows that occur in your region. In Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Depression Glass Society show "Array of Color" is held in April of each year. The Pikes Peak Depression Glass Club show "A Rainbow of Glass" is held in September at the City auditorium in Colorado Springs. Both of these outstanding annual shows always have some children's depression era glass for sale; and also a table setting on display in their club booth. The vast majority of items in either show will be adult size depression glass, rather than children's. These shows have always been highlights on club members' calendars.

This year (1988), club members will also be out in force at the National Depression Glass Association Show on July 9-10th at the Holiday Inn (1-70 E at Chambers Road Exit) in Denver. This is a traveling show that will seldom come to Colorado. There are also many antique shops in Colorado dedicated to Depression Era glass, that are great sources of children's glass.

The best way to get started in collecting children's glassware is to take someone knowledgeable along with you. Join the Rocky Mountain Depression Glass Society if you live in the Denver area, the Pikes Peak Depression Glass Club if you live in the Colorado Springs area; or any one of the many Depression Glass Clubs scattered across these United States. Let their members help start you on a very enjoyable hobby.