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Purple Carnival Glass

Updated on February 4, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

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

Purple Carnival glass is a relatively rare color of Carnival and is prized by collectors.

What Is Carnival Glass?

Carnival glass was first produced by Fenton in 1907. Called "Iridescentware" it was hoped that the beautiful, yet inexpensive glass, could compete with the popular Tiffany glass. Soon other manufacturers began producing the glass as well.

To create the items the glass was first molded. Once it was removed from the molds but was still hot, it was sprayed with metallic salts and then refired. This created the colorful iridescence that is the mark of Carnival glass. Afterward it might be hand finished by craftsmen. These hand finished pieces are some of the most collectible today.

The glass came in a variety of colors including a clear iridescent. It got its name from the practice of giving it away as prizes at Carnivals because it was so inexpensive. It was also used as a manufacturer's giveaway item and sold in the five and dime stores that were popular at the time.

Most collectible Carnival glass was made prior to 1931, however Fenton and a few other companies have continued to produce it in limited quantities over the years. It can be nearly impossible to tell the old from the new, especially for novice collectors.

Because there are so many reproductions it is important that you get a good collectors guide, spend time at shows talking to experts, and browsing the authentic vintage glass. This will help you get a "feel" for the real thing and you will be more likely to spot the reproductions.

Carnival glass footed bowl. Although this probably marigold color not purple, the classic iridescence is apparent.
Carnival glass footed bowl. Although this probably marigold color not purple, the classic iridescence is apparent. | Source

Identifying the Color

Carnival glass comes in many colors, including:

  • Clear
  • Green
  • Red
  • White
  • Amethyst
  • Purple
  • Marigold

The iridescence sometimes makes the color difficult to identify for new collectors. The color of the glass is always determined by the base color no matter what colors are in the iridescence. To determine color you should lay the item on its side and look through the base. Because the bases were not iridescent in the vintage glass the color is obvious on the bottom.

The more colorful the iridescence is the more desirable the piece.

The Best Identification and Price Guides

Some Rare Purple Carnival Glass Patterns

Collectors love the purple Carnival glass. The rich purple base color sets off the iridescent qualities of the glaze beautifully and shimmers in hues of cobalt blue, pink, gold, and red. It should not be confused with amethyst color of Carnival, which is somewhat lighter in hue.

According to many collectors, Imperial Glass Company manufactured the highest quality purple Carnival. It is known for its electric iridescence. They also made more pieces in this color than any other manufacturer.

Fenton Orange Tree Footed Bowl

This Fenton Orange Tree footed bowl is considered rare and very collectible. because it has the tree trunk and daisy center band.

Imperial Poinsettia Milk Jug

This is almost impossible to find in purple. The jug is about six and a half inches tall. The edges of the handle are beaded and there is a lot of beading on the body of the pitcher making up the stems and outlining the leaves. The beading catches even more light and causes a very impressive iridescence.

Imperial Octagon Milk Jug or Pitcher

Octagon is quite rare in the purple color, and especially pitchers. The pattern is made up of raised buttons surrounded by a sunburst. You can see examples of the Octagon pattern on David Doty's site.

Imperial Fashion Water Set

A large hobstar is situated above a fan of leaves in the Fashion pattern by Imperial. Purple pieces in this pattern are very desirable to collectors and include water sets, tumblers, and pitchers. Rose bowls are extremely rare as well in this pattern and the purple color.

Imperial Loganberry Vase

The Imperial Loganberry pattern is rare in purple. The vase stands about ten inches tall and has clusters of berries which look almost like tiny grapes.

Where to Buy Carnival Glass

In addition to the normal places that you might think of to buy white carnival glass, there are shops on the Internet that specialize in this unique glassware.

All Antique Glass

All Antique Glass carries Carnival Glass including purple. The images and descriptions help you know exactly what you are getting

Carnival Glass

Carnival Glass specializes in Carnival glass of all colors. The owner is affiliated with numerous collectors clubs and organizations. He also is interested in buying Carnival Glass from collectors.

Replacements Ltd.

Replacements Ltd. is a glass and china replacement service. If you know the pattern and manufacturer of the item you are looking for you may be able to find it in their inventory.


Tias is also an antique mall online. Since there are so many shops it is likely you will be able to find purple Carnival without too much trouble.

Caring for Carnival

Carnival glass is delicate and should be washed only when needed in a mild soap mixture. Pat dry with soft cloths and keep in a glass cabinet if possible. Like all antique and vintage glass, Carnival should be kept away from temperature extremes and sunlight.

Purple Carnival glass is both rare and beautiful. Adding a few pieces to your collection may be difficult but very rewarding.


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    • jamterrell profile image

      jamterrell 6 years ago

      This is great hub.

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 6 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      The purple is probably my favorite

    • Naomi's Banner profile image

      Naomi's Banner 6 years ago from United States

      You have certainly done your research. This is a great Hub as well. Interesting. I happen to love carnival glass pieces. I have a fruit piece that is purple and quite lovely I received from my mother.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      I have a number of pieces my Mother collected. She collected so many types of things! This is a great article.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading this informative hub.

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks for introducing me to something new. The Carnival glass looks really pretty, I would love to see it in person sometime.

    • profile image

      tinknfelix 6 years ago

      I have a piece - bowl - that was my mothers. It is beautiful and a striking piece. The carnival glass always catches my eye at antique stores!

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 6 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Thanks Remember that the glass color can't always be identified by the way it looks. Be sure to look through the bottom to identify the actual base color.

    • profile image

      leann2800 6 years ago

      I have never seen carnival glass in any other color than marigold. But, I am a purple lover so I am going to be on the look out now. Good hub.

    • Carmen H profile image

      Carmen Beth 6 years ago

      Great hub! Love the details.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Interesting topic!