Collectible Glassware from the 40s, 50s and 60s

by Joyce Nichols
Volume 18 No. 9 - May 1992

The forties glass is now fifty years old and many couples are passing their wedding crystal and early acquired glassware and china to grandchildren who are starting out and have more energy to entertain.

Sometimes pieces have been broken or misplaced or maybe were never acquired and this has opened up a whole new area of collecting.

During the forties, fifties and sixties, many patterns of machine made glass were put out on the market. Some of the patterns that are familiar are Anniversary, Bubble, Christmas Candy, Daisy, Dewdrop, Fire King (many patterns and colors), Louisa, Forest Green, Harp , Heritage, Holiday, Iris (iridescent), Moroccan Amethyst, Newport, Royal Ruby, and Sandwich to name a few.

Maybe you recognize your pattern in this list. Some of the colors found in these patterns are much the same as those put out in the more bleak days of the depression.

Some Antique dealers, who do not specialize in glassware misname the iridescent of this era Carnival. This is not the old marigold colored carnival. Much of the Carnival look-alike began in this period.

Some of the active glass companies during this time putting out inexpensive glass to be sold at dime stores or given away as premiums were Jeannette Glass Company in Jeannette, Pennsylvania; Anchor Hocking Glass Company in Lancaster, Ohio; Hazel Atlas Glass Company - later Hazel Ware, Division of Continental Can in Zanesville, Ohio, Wheeling, West Virginia and Clarksburg, West Virginia; Indiana Glass Company in Dunkirk, Indiana; Federal Glass Company in Columbus, Ohio; and Westmoreland Glass Company in Grapeville, Pennsylvania.

Much of this glass was sold at dime stores for five cent or sometimes even cheaper. I can remember as a child going to S. H. Kress in Meridian, Mississippi, and for twenty five cents I could buy Christmas presents for my two grandmothers, my great grandma and my mother. They all liked the pretty little trinkets that today have become so collectible. Maybe this love for pretty glass is a part of our genetics after all.

Well, Cheap Glass or "Premium Glass" is not all that was being produced during the forties, fifties and sixties. Fostoria, Cambridge, Fenton, Heisey, Duncan and Tiffin were putting hand made glass into Jewelry stores and better department stores for Brides to choose for "Good Crystal."

I was a bit shocked when recently I saw my Wedding Crystal, "Willow," by Duncan on the shelf at a glass show for $27.00 a stem. In the early fifties, I felt extravagant to pay $3.00 for a stem so fragile. But then came S and H Green Stamps to our local grocery store and gas stations and my "Crystal" was in the catalog. So, even some of my "Good Crystal" came as premiums!

Fenton Art Glass Company and Westmoreland made lots of White Milk Glass in the fifties. Usually Fenton pieces have a ruffled crest which makes them easy to identify. These milk glass pieces are beginning to show up at many of the shows and because of their collectibility, some of the promoters are allowing them to remain in the displays.

In this article, I have only touched the surface of the beautiful glassware from the forties, fifties and sixties. I really would like for more to be written and shared about the collectible glass of this era.

Mr. Gene Florence has recently published a book: Collectible Glassware of the 40's, 50's and 60's. This book helps us to begin to see what is out there, but there so many patterns, especially in the Elegant glass that seem to have no published research available. Recently, I was sent a brochure of a book on just Anchor Hocking Fire King, but I have not received my copy yet. I met author of this book at a show in Alabama and saw some of his pictures, so I look forward to seeing what the book has to offer.

As I try to end this article with my favorite glass of this era, I will have to say that Royal Ruby takes first place. Forest Green Bubble takes a close second but I find the green Bubble very hard to keep in stock. Maybe many other people are attracted to it too.

Maybe some one of you out there has been looking for an area of glass to research and write about. Why not look into those patterns of crystal made in the early Post World War II years, and educate us that are too busy hunting, washing, pricing, selling and enjoying the already researched patterns. By the way! Another fun thing to do is to notice how many pieces of old glass are used in pictures on the food pages of our papers and magazines. Aren't we glad we enjoy collecting "Pretty Glass!"