Founded in 1905, the Fenton Art Glass Company is known by many for its iridescent carnival glass and Hobnail milk glass, but for collectors of antique figurines, the firm is probably most closely associated with its elephant flower bowls of the 1920s and its “Novelty Dogs” of the 1930s. These bull dogs, similar to ones being made by Westmoreland and Lancaster at the time, were just over two inches tall and produced in several colors, from red (fairly common) to cobalt and green (rare). In most cases the dogs were left clear, but some were given a frosted, satin finish.
For cat lovers, Fenton’s most famous feline was Alley Cat, whose elongated neck, tilted head, and cartoony grin have made it a favorite of Fenton collectors. Originally produced as Sassy Susie between 1924 and 1934 by United States Glass Company from a mold created by the father-and-son team of Reuben and Kenneth Haley, Alley Cat joined the Fenton family in 1970. Its first coat of fur was Amethyst Carnival, but Fenton Alley Cats have also been produced in a wide range of iridized and satin colors.
The permutations of Fenton’s Alley Cat, however, pale when compared to those of a sitting cat first released in 1979. That cat, often identified by its mold number, 5165, has been made of clear and colored glass, and is frequently hand painted on its back or to give definition to the ears and eyes. In recent decades, Fenton has also introduced playful kittens, curious cats, and a series of Happy Cats, which resemble the Alley Cats but are shorter and somewhat less detailed.
Beyond cats and dogs, Fenton has also made all sorts of cute bears, simple butterflies and birds, and lots of decorative fish and frogs. Little girls and boys have also been popular, as have angels and Santas.