In 1905, Frank L. and John W. Fenton founded Fenton Art Glass Company in Williamstown, West Virginia. Today, it is the largest manufacturer of handmade colored glass in the United States. Often featured on QVC, Fenton products have become valuable collectibles with an avid fan base.
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether a product is an authentic creation from the Fenton factory. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to purchase directly from Fenton, or an authorized dealer listed on Fenton's website.
Buy books on Fenton glassware, and familiarize yourself with the shapes, styles and markings of authentic Fenton products. Collectors' books have photos and descriptions of Fenton pieces, which can be very helpful when shopping with secondhand sources like eBay or yard sales. You can buy these books from Fenton’s website, along with other useful reference materials.
Looking at old Fenton catalogs can also help you to identify specific pieces of Fenton glassware. You can buy catalogs on eBay, or search for them on the Fenton Fanatics website, which maintains a database of old catalogs for free download (see Resources).
Learn to identify the various Fenton markings, stickers and logos. Though it may not help with older pieces, the company has been marking its products with a scripted “Fenton” inside an oval since 1970.
A smaller logo, with an "8" for 1980s, a "9" for 1990s, and a "0" for 2000, also appears on some Fenton glass.
Other scripted markings include the text "75th" to mark certain 75th-anniversary products manufactured in 1980; the words "Fenton 80" to mark 80th-anniversary products manufactured in 1985; and "90th" to mark Fenton's 90th anniversary in 1995.
More unusual markings include a solid star, an open star or the letter "F" to indicate preferred products sold only in the Fenton Gift Shop.
Finally, two 1995 Historic Collections in 2000 (Lotus Mist and Willow Green Opalescent) were marked with a "95" inside a circle.
Visit eBay and QVC online. Fenton Fanatics, a website with a large amount of information for Fenton collectors, suggests identifying a specific characteristic of your piece and searching for it on eBay. Fenton Fanatics also allows you to search its QVC database (see Resources); type in as much information about the piece as possible to find matches.
Join an online Fenton glass forum or collectors' club, and submit pictures and a description of your piece. Expert collectors can assess this information, and tell you whether your piece is likely to be authentic.
- Crystal Glassware image by TekinT from Fotolia.com