Founded in 1899, the Westmoreland Glass Company produced glass for almost a century, with the majority of production in Grapeville, Pennsylvania between 1924 and 1984. By the time the company closed in 1984, Westmoreland produced approximately 90 percent of milk glass in white and other colors. According to art glass author Gene Florence, the best-known Westmoreland milk glass patterns include English hobnail and paneled grape. New collectors will learn a lot in their quest for Westmoreland milk glass.
Learn to recognize milk glass by pattern. Gene Florence notes that Westmoreland made more than 100 different pieces of the paneled grape pattern. This pattern has heavily decorated pieces with prominent raised clusters of grapes and leaves. Most have scalloped or fluted edges with faceted sides or sections.
Familiarize yourself with the raised faceted diamond shapes and deeply cut lines found on Westmoreland English hobnail. Check the bottom for a hexagonal sunburst that appears on many pieces. Some Westmoreland English hobnail milk glass has painted birds, flowers or fruit. The National Milk Glass Collectors Society (NMGCS) cautions that the size of the hobnails cannot differentiate one English hobnail maker from another.
Check the characteristics of the Westmoreland beaded edge pattern with small closely-spaced beading that occurs on the edges of plates and saucers, and in a single band near the top edges of goblets. Beaded edge pieces may have painted fruit or flowers, or the beading itself may have a single color such as red on plain white pieces. Some 8 1/2-inch luncheon plates may have fruit in the center and a band of pastel color about 2 inches wide around the perimeter.
Learn as much as you can about the Westmoreland logos or marks. In the 1920s Westmoreland used a W inside a keystone (shaped like an angular urn). From 1949-1984 the mark evolved to a W superimposed over a G, and collectors will find this mark most often according to the NMGCS. Another mark consists of the Westmoreland Glass name encircling a stylized W.
Make note of four other labels or marks associated with Westmoreland. Two use the keystone motif bearing the letter W combined with other text. Two circular marks -- one blue and the other brown -- have wavy edges and “Westmoreland Glass” wrapped around the keystone.
Bear in mind that many Westmoreland pieces do not have a maker’s mark. According to the NMGCS, the company rarely marked pieces made between the 1920s and 1950s, and thereafter some pieces bore a mark and others did not. The NMGCS says that many Westmoreland molds now belong to contemporary glass makers who still produce pieces bearing Westmoreland marks.
Visit flea markets and antique stores, talk with knowledgeable vendors or join a group of collectors and ask a lot of questions. Westmoreland made a variety of other milk glass tableware lines, figurines, lamps, and animal and bird dishes. Some Westmoreland milk glass colors include misty blue, black and antique blue.