In Appreciation of Pink American Sweetheart

by Cheryl Kevish
Volume 20 No. 7 - March 1994

This is the first in a series of articles profiling selected Depression Glass patterns through fifteen years of "appreciation." As I wrote in an earlier article for News & Views, the term American Sweetheart "appreciation" defines an awareness of and thankfulness for the beauty of Depression Glass as well as an acknowledgement of an increase in monetary value. I will contrast 1979 prices from the Fourth Edition of Mr. Gene Florence's Collectors' Encyclopedia of Depression Glass with the 1994 prices of the Eleventh Edition. In addition, I will examine changes in pattern and piece availability and evaluate the pattern's strengths and weaknesses. It is my hope that this kind of analysis will give all of us, novice and veteran alike, perspective on our role as collectors.

American Sweetheart, made by the MacBeth-Evans Glass Company from 1930 to 1936, has a graceful style that conveys a sense of elegant warmth. The curves and flutes of the plates and bowls provide a framework for a lacy and delicate mold-etched design. The soft pink color has been, and remains the most collected shade, although Monax, blue, red and "Smoke-trimmed" Monax are also popular. Blue pieces continue to be rarer than red. The pattern has not been reproduced, which has protected it from fluctuations in value. The scarcity of Salt & Pepper Shakers that Mr. Florence noted in 1979 persists in 1994.

I selected an eight-piece place setting of pink American Sweetheart, with some consideration given to economic prudence. The cereal bowl can serve double duty for salad or soup, the salad plate can be used for dessert and the 10 oz. tumbler can hold either water or another beverage. As you can see from the chart which follows, the price of my selected place setting has gone up almost 250%.

American Sweetheart
PIECE 1979 PRICE 1994 PRICE
Cereal Bowl. 6" 5.50 l4.00
Cup 5.50 15.00
Saucer 2.00 4.00
Bread & Butter Plate, 6" 1.50 5.00
Salad Plate, 8" 4.50 l0.00
Dinner Plate, 9¾" 9.50 35.00
Sherbet. 4¼" Ftd. 6.50 l5.00
Tumbler, 4¾", 10 oz. 19.50 90.00
PLACE SETTING TOTAL 54.50 l88.00

My attempt to be frugal did not stop me from including Salt & Pepper Shakers and a Pitcher in my selected accessory pieces. And if the 2-Tier Tid-Bit had been discovered in 1979 (to supply a comparison price), I would have selected it also. Part of the fun of collecting lies in the fantasy of a spectacular find! As the following chart shows, accessory pieces have also seen a hefty price increase.

American Sweetheart
PIECE 1979 PRICE 1994 PRICE
Salver Plate, 12" 7.50 l8.00
Creamer, Ftd. 5.50 l2.00
Sugar, Open Ftd. 4.50 11.00
Vegetable Bowl, 11" oval 12.50 55.00
Platter, 13" oval 13.50 45.00
Pitcher, 8", 80 oz. 197.50 495.00
Salt & Pepper Shakers, Ftd. l75.00 395.00
ACCESSORY PIECES TOTAL 416.00 1,031.00

The enduring popularity of American Sweetheart has been attributed to availability, the wide variety of pieces and the fact that the pattern has not been reproduced. I admire the elegance of the pattern, particularly the way the plates, saucers and sherbet seem to float off the table in a graceful ripple. There is a nostalgic grace to the scrolls, ribbons and scalloped shapes that evokes the earlier Victorian era for me. I find the tumbler design to be a bit uncoordinated with the rest of the pattern, due to the lack of any graceful curves or footed bottoms. I also wish goblets and candlesticks had been made to complete the service for a formal dinner. Aside from these minor points, I think American Sweetheart is a lovely pattern with enough pieces to satisfy the collector who wants both luncheon and dinner services with a wide range of accessories. It is a tribute to MacBeth-Evans' design that the "R pattern" (the rather prosaic name Mrs. Weatherman reports that the company used) was able to be produced for six years during some of the most difficult economic times this country has known.

In my next article, I will profile Dogwood, the "older sister" of American Sweetheart by MacBeth-Evans. I intend to focus the series on the "Adam to Windsor" DG patterns because they are my first love and what I collect myself.