Carnival Glass

Iridescent Glass, better known as "Carnival Glass," was first introduced in 1907. Fenton Art Glass Company of Williamstown, West Virginia was the first to produce a dime store alternative to the more expensive art glass of the time. Tiffany and Company, among others, emulated ancient glassware that had been "stained" from years of exposure to chemicals in the soil where it was buried. To create the same effect, metallic salts were sprayed onto the surface of the glass while it was still hot. The fusion of salt and glass surface resulted in "Iridescent Glass." The distinction "light" and "dark" glass comes from the base color of the piece the metallic glaze is applied to. For instance, if the glaze is applied to clear glass, the gloss finish appears golden orange and is referred to as Marigold. If the sheen is applied to deep colors such as cobalt or amethyst, it appears to have a seemingly dark finish. There are all shades in between with white, ruby, and pastels being the most rare and collectible.

By the early 1920's, companies such as Fenton, Northwood, Dugan, Imperial, and Millersburg saw dramatic reduction in sales revenue from the once wildly popular glass. The popularity of Iridescent Glass faded due to trend changes after the war. The 1960's, with all of its "modern" flair, saw a revival of the glass. Affectionately nicknamed "Carnival Glass," it was particularly sought after due, in part, to its colorful luster. The epithet was a play on the fact that it had been occasionally given away, years earlier, as a carnival premium. Many of the original manufacturers started production once more, and several companies, like Jeanette Glass, started a new wave of "depression carnival" glass.

Today, smaller companies, Gibson for one, have dedicated themselves to supplying collectors with the glassware they love so much. Carnival Glass never truly faded from existence. A product of yesteryear, it reminds us of the rich glass making past of our forefathers. Both beautiful and playful, Carnival Glass is a timeless treasure to be cherished by collectors and admired by all.