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Carnival glass


Carnival glass is an inexpensive pressed glass, made as both functional and ornamental objects, always iridescent and found in a wide spectrum of colors. It was produced in the U.S., Britain, Austraila, and several European and Asian countries from the early 20th century until the present. Carnival glass gets its iridescent sheen from the application of metallic salts while the glass is still hot from the pressing, then re-firing the glass. Glass workers sometimes refer to carnival glass as "dope glass" because the process of applying the iridescent coloring to the surface is called "doping".



The Fenton Art Glass Company was founded in 1905, and was the first and largest producer of carnival glass, producing many different pieces in over 150 patterns. They were well known for quality, and were among a very few makers who made red carnival glass. After interest waned in the late 1920s, Fenton quit producing carnival glass for many years, but due to a resurgence in its popularity, Fenton produces carnival glass today.

Decorative art glass called "Iridill" was originally produced by Fenton in 1907, inspired by Tiffany and Steuben art glass. However, it did not command the prices expected, and was subsequently discounted. Only after these markdowns was it frequently used as carnival prizes and as promotional giveaway items. The popularity of this use made this a very profitable line for the Fenton company.

Most U.S. carnival glass was made between 1907 and 1925, with production tapering off by 1931. Some significant production continuing outside the US through the depression years of the early 1930s, tapering off to very little by the 1940s.

The name "carnival glass" was not commonly used until collectors in the 1950s began to refer to it as such.


Carnival glass is made in many translucent colors, primarily amethyst, marigold, cobalt, green, and red. It is also made in opaque white, called milk glass, and before the hazards of radiation were well known, it was made in semi-transparent or translucent pale green, called vaseline or uranium glass. Vaseline glass and uranium glass actually contains traces of uranium salts (uranium dioxide) in the glass, it can luminese a faint green in reaction to UV light (blacklight). Other colors of uranium glass were produced in lesser quantities.

Carnival glass was produced in large quantity by at least Fenton, Northwood, Imperial, Millersburg, Westmoreland, Dugan/Diamond, Cambridge, and U.S. Glass, as well as smaller quantities by many smaller manufacturers. In addition, simple pressed glass was iridized by third parties as well.

Collectables Market

Carnival glass is highly collectable. Prices vary widely, with some pieces worth very little, while other, rare items command thousands of dollars. Examples of carnival glass can be easily found in antique stores, and there is a very active market for it on eBay.

Identification of carnival glass is frequently difficult. Many manufacturers did not include a maker's mark in their product, and some did for only part of the time they produced the glass. Identifying carnival glass involves matching patterns, colors, sheen, edges, thickness, and other factors from old manufacturer's trade catalogs, other known examples, or other reference material. Since many manufacturers produced close copies of their rivals' popular patterns, carnival glass identification can be challenging even for an expert.

See also

References and external links

  • Fenton Art Glass Company
  • Woodsland World Wide Carnival Glass Association
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Carnival_glass". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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