Carnival Glass

Dr. Lori reveals tips to spot valuable Carnival Glass

Carnival glass bowl

by Dr. Lori Verderame

Carnival glass is pressed glass that is iridescent and has a shiny look to it. Carnival glass is made iridescent by the addition of the metallic salt.

Carnival glass got its start as an inexpensive alternative to the expensive hand blown glass pieces made by studio glass makers such as Tiffany, Galle, Loetz, and others. Carnival glass became popular in the 1920s to the 1950s as “a poor man’s Tiffany”. Not to be confused with Depression glass, much of carnival glass was purchased for collections and some pieces were given away as prizes at carnivals and as advertising gimmicks.

The Fenton Art Glass Company of Williamstown, West Virginia was the first and largest producer of carnival glass in the world. Fenton introduced iridized glass or iridescent glass in 1907. It was first referred to as Venetian or Venice art glass. Carnival or iridescent glass was in high demand during the early years of the 1900s throughout the 1930s. By the Great Depression, carnival glass has lost its allure and much of it was sold inbulk to carnivals and large consumer product companies as promotional give-aways. The name carnival glass derived from this distribution network for the glass.

What to Look For

The colors of carnival glass are important to their collectibility and value in the marketplace. Typically purple carnival glass known as amethyst and orange carnival glass known as marigold are popular in the marketplace.

Collectors look for intricate patterns, quality of the glass color, rare patterns, advertising or historic elements, and moreso than with other antiques, very good or mint condition.

Carnival glassPieces of carnival glass are popular in the 21st Century with collectors. Many patterns featuring fruits, flowers, and starburst patterns command as much as $50 for a small example of carnival glass and several hundreds of dollars for premier pieces by quality makers.

Carnival glass was made by companies such as Fenton, Northwood, Millersburg in states including but not limited to Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, etc.  

Get an online appraisal of your carnival glass piece from Dr. Lori.