Fenton is a small art glass company that creates unique collectible handmade glassware. It was founded in 1905 in Ohio by the Fenton brothers, whose interest in colored glass produced the highly prized and collectible iridescent glass known as carnival glass. Fenton has introduced special colors of carnival glass over the years for such events as the U.S. bicentennial, discontinued and revived special colors, and produces limited edition colors and glassware lines. Collectors worldwide search for the new colors and lines just as much as the vintage and discontinued glassware.
Carnival glass, with a beautiful and unique iridescent finish, was introduced by Fenton in 1907 and produced until the 1920s. In the 1970s, carnival glass was again produced with new lines of glassware treated with sprayed-on metallic salts for iridescence, and has continued to be popular. In 1970, carnival glass collector’s plates were introduced for Mother’s Day and Christmas. Independence Blue carnival glass was created for the U.S. bicentennial. Orange carnival glass, also called marigold, was produced from 1971 until 1973. Ruby iridescent carnival glass was made from 1976 to 1977. Special series of carnival glass are produced in limited editions as commissioned.
Opalescent glass has a milky, pearly appearance from bone ash added during the firing process. Some yellow and yellow-green opalescent glass, called canary opalescent, will glow green in black light. Fenton produced opalescent glass before developing carnival glass.
Overlay glass is produced with a cased glass interior and a colored exterior layer for a beautiful, unique effect. Fenton has many overlay designs in its lines, some with crystal cased interiors, others with opal interiors, and with many different exterior colors.
Transparent, Transluscent and Opaque Glass
Fenton produced and produces a wide variety of transparent, transluscent and opaque glass in beautiful colors and shades. Transparent glass is see-through, while translucent is semitransparent and opaque is dense and has no transparency. The different glasses are created by different treatment during the molten and firing processes, usually by adding substances to the melted glass. Some of the translucent and opaque colored items were produced in very limited quantities and are very rare.
Identifying Fenton Glass
Before 1952, Fenton identified its pieces with a mold number. After 1952, Fenton used ware numbers consisting of a 4-digit number followed by a 2-letter code. These identification codes on the glassware pieces are used to date and value the items. Fenton applied various logos and labels on its glassware through the years, which can be used to identify and date items. Mold numbers, ware numbers, logos and labels can be found in collectors’ references.
- Fenton Art Glass
- Fenton Art Glass Colors and Hand-Decorated Patterns 1939-1980: Identification & Value Guide, Margaret and Kenn Whitmyer, 2005
- The Standard Encyclopedia of Opalescent Glass 4th Edition, Bill Edwards & Mike Carwile, 2002
Heidi Cardenas specializes in human resources, business and personal finance, small-business advice, home and garden and home improvement. Her professional background includes human resources and business administration, technical writing and corporate communications. She has studied horticulture and business administration, and enjoys guest blogging for publications including Herb Companion Magazine, Natural Home Living Magazine, and Mother Earth Living.