How to Identify Real Milk Glass

By Pat Smith
Possible shape of milk glass dish.
antique golden rainbow glass chicken candy dish image by Scott Williams from Fotolia.com

Milk glass is a specific type of glasswork that has an off-white or white color and looks milky and often contains one of the following patterns: Amber Crest, Hobnail, Ivory Crest, Peach Crest (see below for a full list). It first appeared in Egypt circa 1500 BCE, although most of the collectors items available now were made in the 18th century and later. The most common types of milk glass collectors items include small sculptures and various dishes with shapes or characters on the top. To find authentic milk glass, learn as much as you can about the different types and look for specific pieces. Talk to an antique dealer or dedicated collector about his expertise. You can also join groups to talk to other milk glass enthusiasts.

Study a list of the types of milk glass items you might find, including dishes, cups, vases, perfume bottles, boxes and jewelry boxes, toothpick holders and lanterns.

Study a list of the patterns on milk glass. Copy the list to carry with you when you visit an antique store. Find pictures online of these specific patterns and print them to take along as a reference: Amber Crest, Aqua Crest, Emerald Crest, Hobnail, Ivory Crest, Peach Crest, Silver Crest, Beaded Grape and Old Quilt.

Visit a reputable antique store, preferably one that specializes in dishes and glassware. Make an appointment with one of the dealers, if possible, to discuss specifics and learn more about milk glass.

Learn the age of the items you look at while at the antique store. Items from the 18th century are rare and valuable, as well as quite expensive, but they may have a few as display items. Milk glass from the 19th century is more common and still valuable. Items from the mid-20th century, mainly dishes, are usually worth $35 to $75, depending on condition and rarity. Most collectors are looking for items from the 19th century, because they are rarer but still more affordable that earlier samples.