Fenton Glass Company started in 1905, when brothers Frank and John Fenton set up shop in an old glass factory in Martins Ferry, Ohio. Their initial business model was to paint glass blanks supplied by other manufacturers, but when the brothers ran into supply snags, they decided to make their own, setting up a glassblowing facility in Williamstown, West Virginia.

Of the myriad manufacturers of carnival glass, a type of colorful molded glassware that was popular in the first half of the 20th century, Fenton Glass Company is arguably the most influential and important. Fenton basically introduced the category in 1907, when company co-founder Frank Fenton and factory manager Jacob Rosenthal created an iridescent, "poor-man’s Tiffany" called Iridill.

To make the Iridill vases and bowls—some footed, some flat-bottomed—molten glass was pressed into a mold. In some cases the resulting relief sits on the exterior of the vessel, but there are many more examples in which the relief projects from within the object. The line was an immediate hit thanks to the eye-catching surface treatments, as well as the patterns and designs that jumped from the pieces to create rich reliefs. Most of Fenton’s early patterns came from nature. These included Waterlily and Cattails, Butterfly and Berries, Peacock Tail, Wreath of Roses, and Thistle.

When looking at Fenton's antique or vintage carnival glass, it helps to be able to identify the various characteristics and traits. For example, patterns could be stamped onto the outside of a piece (also called the back), the inside (front), or both. The bases of pieces were also varied—some had flat collars while others sported ball or spatula feet.

The edges of carnival glass are another differentiator. Some are smooth with gentle undulations, others are divided into alternating sections of unbroken curves and sharp points to create what is known as a bracket edge. Other pieces feature edges that appear crimped, ruffled, pulled, or resemble the teeth of a saw.

While carnival glass was made for everyday use, many pieces seemed suited to special occasions or the serving of treats. Thus, Fenton made a great number of ruffled candy dishes, high-sided nut bowls, and low nappies.

In the 1920s, Fenton introduced a red carnival color that would prove to be a hit with customers of the day and contemporary Fenton collectors alike. But as the 1930s arrived and the Depression deepened, Fenton dropped its carnival lines in favor of household items such as plates and mixing bowls. Other designs produced during the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s include the ruffled-edge Crest pieces and the twisting Spiral Optics...

It was tough going, and the company almost didn’t make it. What rescued Fenton was a Victorian style of glass called Hobnail, whose uniformly bumpy surface resembled the bottoms of hobnail boots. It had been out of fashion for decades, but Fenton found a new audience for this "retro" glassware. A pattern called Diamond Lace combined the bumpy surface of the Hobnails with the optical qualities of the Spiral Optics. And then Fenton produced a milk glass Hobnail. Sales eclipsed even those tallied during the heyday of Iridill, and the company’s future was once again secure.

By the 1950s, many Fenton bowls were adorned with handles to turn them into baskets. Up until that decade, no Fenton piece had carried its maker’s mark, but now Fenton decided that the work of the handler (the gaffer who takes a band of molten glass and with a few deft moves fashions it into a handle) should be recognized. This helps collectors of vintage Fenton to identify the date and pedigree of pieces from 1953 to the present.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Fairy Lamp Club

Fairy Lamp Club

This incredible site is a stunning showcase for Victorian and contemporary fairy lamps, a style of lamp with a glas… [read review or visit site]



This fabulous site is a guide to Bohemian art glass makers from 1885 to 1920. Loetz was the premier Bohemian glass … [read review or visit site]

Pattern Glass School

Pattern Glass School

If you need schooling on Victorian-era pressed glass tableware aka EAPG (Early American Pattern Glass) aka Pattern … [read review or visit site]

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Chris and Val Stewart’s impressive attempt to create a complete catalogue of all known cloud glass, a decorative … [read review or visit site]

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

The heart of this website, home of the Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club, is the Identification Project, whe… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

7 Piece Lot Fenton Cranberry Opalescent Hobnail Glass Basket, Bowls, Vase +moreFenton Cranberry Opalescent Hobnail 3 Piece Vanity Set 2 Perfumes & Powder Jar6) Fenton Rib Optic Green Opalescent Striped Glass 13 Oz Iced Tea Tumblers 1920sFenton Ruby Red Gone With The Wind Poppy Lamp-no ReserveFenton Lotus Mist Burmese Hand Painted Basket! 2004! George Fenton Signature!Super!! Cambridge Inverted Strawberry Powder Jar Carnival Glass Antique MarigoldCarnival Exquisite Northwood Grape And Cable Cracker Jar Super ColorVintage Fenton Cranberry Opalescent Spiral Optic Table Lamp Matching ShadeFenton Burmese 1pc Fairy Lamp Hand Painted One Of A Kind Log Cabin No ReserveFenton Blue Swirled Feather Lamp Shade OnlyAntique Fenton (?) Thin Rib Cobalt Blue Carnival Glass VaseFenton Art Glass White French Opalescent Candle Lamp Hurricane Base Only3 Fenton Vases - 2 Cranberry Hobnail And 1 Spiral Optic Cranberry OpalescentVintage Fenton Cranberry Hobnail Opalescent Glass Lamp Shade For 7" Fitter-norsvVintage 8 1/4" Tree Trunk Style Carnival Glass Vase Unusual Six Sided TopVintage Fenton Opalescent Coin Dot Vase Pair Cranberry Blue Ruffled Crimped BowlVintage Fenton Lemon Glass Nymph With Lotus Bowl, Flower Frog & Candlestick3 Fenton Vases - 2 Coin Dot Cranberry 1 Charleton Roses - Perfect Condition!Fenton Glass Lamp Base For 6 3/4" Shade Base Only No Damage-works!Antique Fenton Green Dragon & Lotus Ruffled Bowl Hard To Find Collar BaseVintage Fenton Topaz Opalescent Cactus Glass Basket 1959-1961 Footed & FineFenton Barber Bottle W/ Stopper Daisy & Fern Pattern Vaseline OpalescentBill Fenton Signed Glass Diamond Lace With Sea Mist Edge Single Horn Epergne KbdCarnival Rare Green Northwood Stippled Three Fruits Bowl. Tuff ColorSigned Fenton BasketFenton Peacock At The Urn Antique Carnival Art Glass Plate~white~fantastic!Electric Fenton Amethyst Dragon & Lotus 3 In 1 Low Edged Bowl Killer IridescenceFenton? Cranberry Pink W/white Coin Dot Crimp Neck Ruffled Top 6 1/4" VaseFenton Artglass Two Tone Pink Handpainted VaseVintage Cranberry Opalescent Glass Daisy And Fern 7.5" Cruet With StopperAntique Fenton Carnival Glass Marigold "plaid" 9" Ics Bowl~very Tough FindFenton Lamp, Cranberry Fenton Burmese Rib Optic Satin Art Glass Hand Painted Daisy Daisies PitcherFenton Glass Campbell's Soup Kids Satin Fairy LampAntique 1940s Fenton Art Glass Aqua Blue Crest Large Fancy Ruffled Brides BasketFenton Art Glass Opalescent Cranberry Coin Dot Vase W/ruffled Top Fenton Art Glass Chickadee Opal Satin "sample" VaseFenton Rib Optic Cranberry & Green Glass 11" Basket Twisted Handle W/price LabelCarnival Glass.large Fenton Amethyst Cherry Circle Bon Bon.great Iridescence.vgc1930s Fenton #53 Or #1502 Vanity Set Tray In Rare Lilac Color1930s Fenton #53 Cologne In Rare Lilac Color - No StopperKiller Antique Electric Fenton Blue Dragon Lotus High Ruffled Bowl Amazing PieceFenton Red Persian Medallion Bonbon OldRare Fenton Coin Dot Topaz/vaseline VaseSurprise Color Rare Fenton Aqua Colored Uranium Dragon & Lotus Ruffled BowlGorgeous Fenton Sea Mist Green Button & Daisy Pickle Caster Set Vintage Fenton Cranberry + White Opalescent Swirl Glass VaseFenton White Satin Glass Hand Painted, Artist Signed Fairy Lamp!Old Heavy Glass Fenton Opalecent Vaseline Hobnail Ruffled Edge BowlBlue Rustic 17.5" Carnival Glass Funeral Vase By Fenton, NrFenton-l.g. Wright Blue Opalescent Coin Dot/ Honeycomb Oil Style Lamp1995 Fenton Limited Edition Burmese "sea Dreams" VaseFenton Orange Tree Antique Carnival Art Glass ~variant~plate~hot Marigold~super!Fenton Art Glass Burmese 8" Vase 2994qhRare Fenton Blue Radium Dragon & Lotus Ruffled Bowl Amazing BowlVintage Fenton Art Glass ~ Green Opalescent Stripe ~ New World ~ Salt & Pepper Fenton Green Vermont Sky Log Cabins In The Woods Lamp Selling No Reserve!Hard To Find Fenton Blue Dragon & Lotus 3/1 Shaped Bowl Beautiful ExampleFenton Artglass "peacock" Pink Satin And Iridescent Glass VaseFenton Art Glass Vaseline Opalescent Daisy And Fern Vase

Recent News: Fenton Glass

Source: Google News

Summations slated in 1979 NYC missing boy case
Lynchburg News and Advance, April 12th

FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2012, file photo, Pedro Hernandez appears in Manhattan criminal court in New York. Jurors are scheduled to hear closing arguments Monday, April 13, 2015, in the case against the 54-year-old New Jersey man accused of killing ...Read more

Support sought for Coudersport memorial trail
The Wellsboro Gazette, April 9th

visible lessons about the diversity of tree and plant species; forest management; the Allegheny River headwaters; as well as local history (the rise and fall of the railroads; Coudersport's connection to the world-famous Fenton Glass manufacturer...Read more

Secret Service supervisor placed on leave after allegations
Lynchburg News and Advance, April 8th

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Secret Service has placed a high-ranking supervisor on administrative leave and suspended the supervisor's security clearance after what it calls "allegations of misconduct and potential criminal activity." Spokesman Brian Leary ...Read more

Obama: Malia's asthma brings home climate change debate
Lynchburg News and Advance, April 8th

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says his memory of the fear over his daughter's preschool asthma attacks brings home the debate over climate change. Obama says he knows firsthand how scary it can be to have a child who struggles to ...Read more

Obama congratulates President-elect Buhari of Nigeria
Lynchburg News and Advance, April 1st

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is congratulating the president-elect of Nigeria, saying the election there has "shown the world the strength" of the African country's commitment to Democratic ideals. Obama says in a White House statement ...Read more

Library of Congress acquires rare trove of Civil War images
Lynchburg News and Advance, March 29th

Texas stereoscopic photography collector Robin Stanford poses for a photograph next to some of her rare Civil War-era stereoscopic photographs at the Library of Congress on Friday, March 27, 2015, in Washington. Stanford has sold the Library of...Read more

AP PHOTOS: Mid-Atlantic duckpin bowling keeps its roots
Lynchburg News and Advance, March 29th

Josh Miller stands next to a rack of duckpin bowling balls during a tournament at Shenandoah Bowling Lanes, Saturday, March 28, 2015, in Mount Jackson, Va. The sport, which is mostly played in the Mid-Atlantic, enjoyed its peak in the 1960s. Shenandoah ...Read more

Fenton Glass official: 'Very possible' company could close soon
Marietta Times, January 17th

Fenton Glass official: 'Very possible' company could close soon. January 18, 2014. By Jackie Runion (jrunion@mariettatimes.com) , The Marietta Times. Save |. After almost a decade of financial ups and downs that have severely altered the face of Fenton...Read more