Beautiful artistic glassware was a symbol of luxury in Europe and Asia before America was an independent country. America was founded by a bunch of can-do people who accepted harsh living conditions as a matter of fact. Luxury was rare, but throughout the history of this country, art and beauty have been a part of life as those harsh living conditions. No matter how harsh life is Americans find a way to bring beautiful items into their homes.
A person could collect Venetian artistic glassware from some of the oldest glasshouses on the planet. You could collect French artistic glassware from Provence, or Imperial Russian artistic glassware. All of these collections would be beautiful enough to take your breath away.
A uniquely American collection of artistic glassware might not be as elegant, delicate, or beautiful as some other collections, but it could celebrate the American spirit. It would include examples of artistic glassware that are a little cruder, not of the same quality as European glassware. This glassware would, however, demonstrate how Americans beautified their homes during the harsh times of WWI and the depression. It would show that art and beauty are a part of American life, and not something reserved for the privileged few.
Depression glass is probably the most collected American artistic glassware. Depression glass was poor-quality glassware made during the 1930’s and 1940’s. It was cheap and could be purchased at the five-and-dime, and it was often given away as a premium. You could get plates for buying groceries, cups and saucers in oatmeal or laundry soap, and other pieces for starting a bank account or getting your oil changed.
Depression glass was cheap, poor quality, easily obtainable…and beautiful. At a time when people could barely afford to keep body and soul together, they collected these beautiful pink, green, or blue pieces of artistic glassware. Because the quality was poor, there are not so many pieces around anymore, and they are very collectible.
The Fenton glass company opened in 1905, and they have created a number of patterns and designs of glassware. One of the more collectible is milk glass. Milk glass pieces are white with a hobnail texture. The openings have a ruffled appearance. Some milk glass has a faint blue cast, similar to skim milk. Other manufacturers have made milk glass, but Fenton glass is the most popular. The Fenton glass company made it through the depression and war years by manufacturing practical items, such as mixing bowls. It started to produce milk glass and other artistic glassware items in the 1950’s. These items are still being produced, and even newer ones are collectible.
Another product introduced by Fenton glass was carnival glass. They began marketing carnival glass just prior to WWI. Carnival glass is iridescent and comes in a variety of colors. Carnival glass continues to be produced today.
There are other uniquely American artistic glassware products that you can collect, and many come from the early 20th century. Anchor Hocking, Pyrex, and Fostoria glassware are all American collectibles. Collecting American artistic glassware is one way to celebrate the American spirit.