Carnival glasses are molded, pressed, or patterned glass with distinct metallic and iridescent surface shimmer caused by the application of metallic salts while in the process of hot pressing.
The first carnival glass was produced by Fenton Glass Company in 1907 with the aim to produce an elegant yet less expensive competitor of the iridescent art glasses created by Tiffany and Steuben. Since then, the sheer elegance of these unique pieces of home accessory has been taking the fancy of collectors. Check out this post to learn more about the carnival glass’ rich history, and why it’s a favorite piece among collectors and homemakers.
Carnival glasses first gained remarkable popularity in the 1920s. Although the demand for carnival glasses has significantly reduced at present times as compared from when it first hit the market, these glass pieces still continue to catch the eyes and interest of collectors and homemakers alike.
Back in the 1920s, the demand for these glass pieces has been so high that massive volumes were produced and some were even priced low enough for an ordinary household to afford. By allowing common housewives to adorn their homes with fancy and elegant-looking vases and decorative bowls, carnival glass began earning monikers such as Taffeta, Cinderella, and Poor Man’s Tiffany.
It was in the 1950s that this glassware earned the name “carnival glass” from being constantly used as prizes at carnivals, fetes, fairs, and festivals. And while some people were led to believe that carnival glasses were distributed mainly through this method, certain studies showed that the majority of these pieces was actually purchased by housewives to add glow and light to their homes during those times when bright electric lighting can only be afforded by families with higher monthly income.
Aside from the iridescent shimmer and the artistic carvings of these glass pieces, another thing that carnival glasses embody, if not the best attribute they own, is the uniqueness of each design.
Despite coming from the same mold, one carnival glass cannot be 100% identical to the other pieces. For example, while one of the three carnival glasses from the same mold will turn out to have a perfectly symmetrical shape, the next could come out folded inwards while the third could be curling outwards.
The edge of each piece can also vary from plain, frilled, pie crust, furrowed, or bullet, depending on the mold pattern. Some of the pieces have also been hand finished by meticulous artisans. These pieces are more sought by collectors nowadays.
Aside from its unique characteristics, carnival glasses also offer functionality on top of being an eye-catching piece of home décor. Some of the most popular functional pieces include flower vases, cups, drinking glasses and water pitchers, bowls, plates, and other types of specialized tableware.
Carnival glass can have different colors, shades, color combinations, and variants which have been officially classified at over fifty variations.
Each glass possesses their respective base color and this factor alone is a crucial element in the creation of a carnival glass. The base color is determined by looking at the area of the glass where no mineral salts have been applied. One can easily identify this by putting the glass up towards the light and looking through that specific area. This goes without saying that the base color greatly affects how that specific piece will appear once the mineral salt and the final firing, also known as post doping, has been executed.
The most common color would be marigold which also comes in lower prices in the market. Other base colors include, amethyst, blue, green, red, and amber. These base colors also come in variations of shade, depth of color, as well as color combinations and variations.
To address the ever-growing craving of collectors and customers for different and unique pieces, carnival glass manufacturers also aim to provide glass pieces in different designs and patterns.
This brought upon unique and distinct patterns from the region where specific carnival glasses are manufactured. Some of the most popular designs and patterns include; the distinct flora and fauna of Australia; swan, hen, and dolphin figures from England; geometric patterns from Germany which was coupled with stained bands of figures on an even marigold by the Czech Republic. Other distinct designs that came from other parts of the world include; ash trays and the Jeweled Peacock Tail vase from Argentina; and the elephant, fish, and hand figural sections on top of trumpet-shaped vases and highly complex goddess vases from India.
Now that you can buy them online, it’s not surprising that the number of collectors who are after these products are growing in number.
Do you see yourself as an avid collector of carnival glass? Share your thoughts with us!