Old Colony not the only lace edge Depression glass

by Johanna S. Billings
Volume 21 No. 7 - March 1995

The great Depression was a time of great hardship, but a few things existed to brighten up one's day. Hocking's Old Colony pattern of Depression glass, with its pretty pink color and open lace edges, was certainly among them.

"Old Colony: The Glass beautiful for Your Table", proclaims a sign above a F.W. Woolworth store display photograph reproduced in Gene Lace Edge sherbets Florence's Collector's Encyclopedia of Depression Glass. A different store display photograph in the same book shows a sign advertising an Old Colony sherbet and plate for a mere 10 cents! Today, that same sherbet sells for around $80 and the plate for another $20.

Colored glass, most often associated with the Depression and the 1930s, actually became the rage in the Roaring 2Os. But only the elite could afford it then. After the Depression hit, the thirst for colored glass continued, and with timing nothing short of perfect, glass makers introduced inexpensive, mass-produced, colored tableware. Suddenly the common person could own colored glass, which was given away as premiums or sold for nickels and dimes. Back then, like today, people collected a piece at a time in their chosen pattern.

The Old Colony pattern commonly called "open lace" or "lace edge", was made between 1935 and 1938. It was produced mostly in pink, but some pieces can be found in crystal including cereal bowls and an 8¼ inch bowl not made in pink. Crystal plates in this style, measuring 8¼ inches are extremely common but these plates arc missing the ribbing found on the corresponding pink Old Colony plates.

Other open lace style pieces were made by a variety of companies, including Westmoreland, Imperial, and Duncan & Miller. However, the shapes and colors of these pieces are very different from Old Colony.

The Lancaster and Standard glass companies, both of which came under Hocking's control in 1924, made some open lace pieces which are similar Lancaster item in style and shape to Old Colony. Both companies produced these wares in the late l920s and early 1930s.

The Lancaster pattern, called Open Work, includes plates, compotes and bowls in several sizes, a salver, a cheese and cracker set, a mayonnaise set, a covered candy dish, a fruit dish and candlesticks. These came in colors including pink, green and yellow. Decorations included painted floral designs and etching which was done by Standard. Standard's pieces, called Corona, were made in many of the same shapes and colors as Lancaster's. Many of these pieces were handmade, as evidenced by ground bottoms.

The color of the Lancaster and Standard pieces is the tell-tale sign that these are not Old Colony. Lancaster and Standard pieces came in pink, but this pink is a bit lighter than that of Old Colony. Pieces in any color other than crystal are definitely not Old Colony.

Another important difference concerns ribbing, which all Old Colony pieces have somewhere on them. In contrast, Lancaster and Standard lace edge pieces are not ribbed. Though lacking ribbing, some Lancaster pieces have a circular design on their bases, and Standard pieces, shown in catalogs between 1925 and 1932, are etched. The Lancaster and Standard pieces can be accurately identified through catalogs reprinted in Colored Glassware of the Depression Era 2 by Hazel Marie Weatherman.

The most expensive Old Colony item is a 9 inch comport which lists for about $700 in Florence's Collector's Encyclopedia. Florence points out that another 9 inch comport has shown up on the market but this "pretender", as he calls it, has a plain foot where the Old Colony Frosted bowl comport has a ribbed base. It is likely that the pretender to which he refers is a Lancaster or Standard piece.

Aside from stating that Lancaster and Standard lace edge style pieces exist, Florence's books give no further information on them. Thus, pricing for these pieces varies widely. Larger pieces are usually found for about $20 to $25, but some will be priced as high as $40 or $50. On the other end of the spectrum, many pieces can also be found for as little as $2 to $5 each. Because few people know a Lancaster or Standard piece when they see one, they often misidentify them as Imperial or even Cambridge.

Some people who collect Old Colony are not interested in any other lace edge style pieces. Others, who like this style, find other companies pieces compliment their Old Colony collections. Particularly when found in shapes not made in the Old Colony pattern, such as sandwich plates, other lace edge style pieces can expand the usefulness of a collection. In addition, some are quite pretty. One of my favorite pieces is a pink frosted Lancaster bowl with an intricate painted-on floral design which I purchased at a flea market for $16.

To Be Continued next month ...