History of Vintage Iridescent Carnival Glass

 

Carnival Glass Dishes

Carnival Glass.

Love it or not?

I’m guessing that if you’re doing some searching on carnival glass, there’s more love than not. Awesome. 🙂

Let me preface this post by saying I am not a collector of carnival glass but I enjoy and appreciate glass and glass art.

For me, the iridescence of carnival glass blows my mind. Yeah, I think it’s pretty amazing. It’s got the shiny object factor coupled with being from another time coupled with having an artistic flair. It’s very charming!

It was so interesting to find out that Carnival Glass was given that name only after it started being collected in the 1950’s. It was called that because this iridescent glass was given out to carnival goers of the 1900’s. If the carnival goer beat the game, they’d win the pretty art glass, instead of a huge stuffy panda (which btw I love).

How sweet is that?

I can just imagine a boyfriend winning a carnival game and giving the pretty shiny plate to his girlfriend. The lucky girl would gush and then get to keep the carnival glass plate as a token of one of the best days of her life. Awww….

From what I’ve read, carnival glass was like the “People’s Glass”. When carnival glass came on the scene there was already fancier more expensive art glass, such as Tiffany Glass and Steuben that were afforded by folks with more wealth. I found some references to it being called the “poor man’s Tiffany”. Maybe that was true. I don’t know. I wasn’t alive during early 1900’s. But here’s what I gather. Carnival Glass was dearly valued by people. Regular everyday folk kind of people valued it so much that they took care of it, treasured it and kept it for a looong time after it stopped being made. Maybe these folks couldn’t afford fancier top of the line glass. Regardless, during those times all homes needed color, something shiny to brighten dark places whether in their homes or in their lives. The bright colorful iridescent glass did that for them, brightened up their lives.

One thing stands out for me. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and treasures are priceless.

Carnival glass started getting made in the early 1900s and peaked around the 1920’s, when it began to fade in popularity, probably to do with the onset of the Great Depression.

Fenton Art Glass was one of the world’s most prominent producers of handmade art glass. In 1907, they were the first ones to introduce carnival glass to American homes. Five other companies followed: Imperial, Heisey, Cambridge, and Northwood.

Keep in mind that most of the early carnival glass had no markings. Later in production, they did have marks but Fenton pieces were never marked.

How was carnival glass made? Carnival glass was made by applying a metallic salt spray to a hot freshly pressed piece of glass. After the spray was applied, the glass was fired again. This is the basics of it. I want to keep this post short and basic. But, you can find more details about the process of making it on another web search. It’s an important part of the story of carnival glass.

In the 1950’s, early collectors started to take an interest in old glass. This brought on a carnival glass revival. Glass companies did end up reviving the iridescent glass and called it “Late Carnival”. So if you’re starting to collect this glass you will want to find out if your pieces are from the original productions or from the revival period.

Carnival glass is safe to use. If you plan to use your glass piece, be sure to care appropriately for your pieces. Don’t run it in a dishwasher. Hand wash it at room temperature and treat it gently. Extreme temperature changes can adversely affect it causing cracks and stress on the glass.

This carnival glass is available on my shop:

Image of Amber Carnival Glass Dishes

Hope you enjoyed learning a little about this cool iridescent vintage glass.

Until next time don’t forget: it’s about the little things!

Whaddya Think?