Carnival Glass Collecting: Colors, Styles And Prices

An article about the basics of collecting Carnival glass including how to value it.

Between 1905-1930 a glass that was pressed and then iridized was manufactured, called Carnival Glass. Companies such as Tiffany were producing a beautiful, but expensive art glass, so other manufacturers developed a cheaper version for the average person. This was the beginning of Carnival Glass.

Carnival Glass was created when a metallic salt spray was applied to the glass after shaping. This process took place while the glass was still hot, but before firing. It resulted in a beautiful glass with an iridescence that gives off a rainbow of colors in the light.

There are many ways to value a piece of Carnival Glass. Look for great color and iridescence. Take into consideration the shape (that is what it is such as a pitcher or vase), the manufacturer, the pattern, the rarity and the condition.

Color is probably the most important item. The true color is determined by holding a piece to a strong light, the base color you see is the color. Many colors are available in Carnival Glass. Not all pieces can be found in all colors. Most frequently found colors are marigold, amethyst, green, cobalt blue, white and various shades of these colors. Judging color takes study and practice.

The iridescence can be all over the piece or just on the interior. Most Carnival Glass has a satiny finish across the surface, but some has a radium finish that is more mirror-like. An outstanding finish and luminescence is a great reason to buy this glass.

The shape refers to the item and its use. This will include items such as bowls, dishes, water sets, vases, punch bowl sets, a never ending variety of table accessories, candlesticks, lamps, dresser items, baskets, advertising pieces, and many novelties. The shape will include whether the top is pinched, ruffled, flattened and if the piece stands on a stem, or has a collar or domed shape at the base. There are numerous sizes of the different shapes also.



Many American producers, as well as worldwide manufacturers, made Carnival Glass. A few better known companies are Dugan, Fenton, Imperial, Millersburg and Northwood. A study of this aspect of collecting will be a must if you wish to ascertain the manufacturer and production date of the glass.

Those of you familiar with depression or other pressed glass will know what I mean when I say pattern. There are hundreds of patterns assigned to pressed glass ranging from floral and nature items to geometric and decorative elements. Each pattern has a name so if you familiarize yourself with these names you can more easily identify your glass. Carnival Glass is usually listed in Identification books by its pattern.

As with any collectible, the rarest pieces are often the most valuable. Some items such as children's dishes were easily broken so few survived. That makes them rare. In other cases the manufacturer only made a limited number of a certain pattern or color. This particular item would be more valuable since it is more difficult to find.

Carnival Glass, like any collectible, must be judged by condition and of course the most perfect piece you can find should be your goal when buying. Any cracks, chips, nicks, rubs, or scratches will affect your price. Buy the best condition you can afford.

You can see that many factors effect value or price. Generally- speaking, larger pieces are more costly than smaller items. The rarest colors are going to be the most expensive. Difficult -to -find patterns will command higher prices than more common ones.

Prices of any antique or collectible fluctuate depending on availability and demand. The price will be affected by the popularity of the item or collecting category at any given time. When an item is out of favor and prices go down. This is a great time to buy your collectible. When everyone wants carnival glass, the prices will go higher. You alone must decide if you wish to buy at any price or pass on the item. When prices rise may be an ideal time to sell off your duplicates or less important pieces.

As with any collectible, first consideration is to buy what you like. Only then should you consider its investment value.

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