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Fenton Antique Glass

Updated on February 12, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Fenton antique glass has been a favorite of collectors for decades. The company was established in 1905 but did not really begin production until 1907.

The company was well known for a variety of types of art glass but is most renowned for carnival glass. This colorful, iridescent glass was developed by the company's co-founder, Frank Fenton, and the manager, Jacob Rosenthal. The official name for the glass was Iridill but it was also known as poor man's Tiffany glass because of the myriad of colors. As many popular items do, carnival glass was also nicknamed baking powder glass, Nancy glass, and Pompeiian Iridescent.

At the time, Tiffany glass was not accessible to anyone but the wealthiest of families and many companies tried to find a way to emulate it without success. Fenton made the glass by spraying it with a variety of metallic salt solutions as soon as it was removed from the mold. Since the piece was still very hot the solutions created a thin lustrous coating. Once the piece was coated the glass was allowed to cool very slowly to prevent breakage. The glass was then finished with hand tools. This gave it the clear, sharp details that set Fenton apart from other art glass.


Until the Depression Fenton created luxury glass but once American economy declined the company switched to practical, household items to keep itself in business. The company created Depression glass for other companies, as well as perfume bottles, vases, bowls, and other household items in the carnival glass style.

World War II was good for American glass manufacturers because European glass was no longer imported into the country.

Colors of Fenton Glass

There were over 125 patterns of carnival glass made, but carnival glass wasn't the only type of glass that Fenton made. Other colors included:

  • Milk glass
  • Opalescent
  • Apple green
  • Gold
  • Black
  • Orange
  • Amberina

Fenton Carnival Glass

Carnival glass got its name because it was inexpensive and often given away as prizes at carnivals. It was made in well over sixty colors but the best known, and most well loved is the marigold color. This was an iridescent orange gold combination that was extremely beautiful and eye-catching.

Other popular colors with collectors are:

  • Amethyst
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Peach Opal
  • Opalescent white.

Fenton Antique Glass Patterns

Fenton created numerous patterns throughout its history. In the earliest days the glass was often decorated with butterflies, and other items from nature. During the 1940s Fenton recreated the milk glass that was popular in Victorian times.

Some of the more popular Fenton glass designs are:

  • Hobnail
  • Thumbprint
  • Lincoln Inn
  • Diamond Hobnail
  • Grape
  • Dot and Line
  • Embossed Feather
  • Honeycomb
  • Floral
  • Orange Tree

Giving Your Fenton Antique Glass a Date

Fenton is the only company that made carnival glass and is still creating beautiful glassware for the home. It can be difficult to actually give the glass a date because so many patterns have been in constant production.

In the early days of Fenton pieces were sometimes hand signed by the artist. Later, oval stickers with the Fenton name were placed on the bottom of the piece. In 1970 Fenton began to emboss the Fenton name in the bottom of the glassware so anything with an embossed name will have been made after 1970.

In 1980 the marks were made a little smaller and included a numeral to identify the decade.

  • 8 was used for the 1980s
  • 9 was used for the 1990s
  • 0 was used for 2000

Knowing these facts helps to ensure that the novice collector will not buy a piece of forty year old Fenton and believe that they got a good deal on Fenton antique glass.

Collecting and Displaying Fenton

If you plan on collecting Fenton you should invest in an identification guide that includes Fenton glassware. Keep it with you are use it as reference when you find a piece of Fenton that you like. Since you can find this beautiful glass everywhere from thrift shops and garage sales to antique shops it is important that you be able to identify it, date it, and know that you are paying a fair price.

Display your pieces behind glass when possible. This will keep them clean and safe from accidently being knocked off a table or chipped. If they need to be washed always use a mild dish soap and warm water. Place a towel in the bottom of the sink to guard against breakage. Wash and rise thoroughly and dry before putting you collectibles away.

Collecting antique Fenton glassware is an affordable way to begin an art glass collection. Be careful, it may outgrow your home before long.


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    • craftdrawer profile image

      craftdrawer 6 years ago

      We visited the Fenton Glass company in Ohio a few years ago and they have a nice display of antique glass there. I enjoyed reading about the history!!! Well done!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Terrific information about Fenton. I have a small collection of the Carnival Glass in Green. It give me great pleasure to look at it every now and then.

    • ejazahmed2609 profile image

      ejazahmed2609 6 years ago from Abu Dahbi, UAE

      thank you Marye for sharing excellent research worked hub. Indeed it is unique hub.

    • profile image

      WayneBass 6 years ago from Aurora

      Excellent and very useful information on Fenton, Marye Audet! Keep up the good work.