How to Identify Valuable Milk Glass. Milk glass looks like its name. It is glass that is the color of milk, hence "milk glass." Pieces of milk glass are very plentiful in the collectibles market and many people have milk glass pieces or collections in their homes. Identifying which pieces or collections of milk glass are more sought after may take a little research. Use the following suggestions to guide you in identifying your milk glass.
Research the history of the pattern pieces that you have or the pieces of milk glass that you are interested in. The earliest pieces of milk glass came from around the 1840s during the Victorian era. Many desirable pieces, valuable for a collector, were patterns that came from this time. Some original patterns were the Block and Fan pattern and the Button and Arches pattern. Even more rare patterns from the same period were the Holly, Stars and Stripes and the Ribbed Grape patterns. The "white milky color" of the glass came from adding ash or oxides to the clear glass while it was hot. The deeper the white color of the glass depicted, the better quality.
Look for milk glass from a slighter later time around the 1880s. This is when the first figurines of milk glass were produced, with many of those being of animals. Also, added to popularity were the covered dishes, such as candy dishes. These, of course, are more valuable than the reproductions being made today.
Spot milk glass from around the 1880s that is a little dull in color rather than the milky white. These milk glass pieces had arsenic added into the batches while they were still hot glass. The arsenic gave the glass the dull color. These are very sought-after pieces by collectors, so hang on to them or have them appraised.
Make your search for valuable milk glass include pieces made in the 20th century, particularly pieces and collections that were made before World War I. This is when milk glass really became extremely popular, especially from the 1950s to the 1960s. There were many new patterns added during this era in addition to continuing with the production of old favorites. Some of the most popular makers of milk glass during this period were Westmoreland and Atterbury. Also, during this time there was the addition of colored milk glass. There were various dyes added to the hot glass to form pinks, blues, greens and lavenders to the milk glass collections.
Use websites on the Internet to do comparisons on various pieces of milk glass to attempt to determine its value. To appraise the value of your milk glass, have it handled or inspected by a certified appraiser that specializes in glass. Another source to use for comparisons before your appraisal is to use books on glass and antique glass. These have many photographs showing examples of the various pieces made during the popular periods.