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]

Loetz.com

Loetz.com

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    

Fenton Art Glass Blue Opalescent Hobnail Footed Pedestal Cake Plate Stand ServerFenton Ruffled Top Glass Burmese Handpainted Signed Vase, Stands 8" TallOld Antique Fenton Honeycomb Cranberry Glass White Opalescent Miniature Oil LampGorgeous...antique Fenton Electric Blue Stag And Holly Large Ice Cream Bowl..wowFenton Green Mary Gregory 2 Pc Hurricane Candle Selling With No Reserve!! Fenton Bittersweet Robert Barber Collection Vase, 7 3/4 In Rare Fenton Vaseline Glass Cake Plate StandFenton Cake Plate Stand White Hobnail Ruffle Milk Glass Pedestal Limited Edition Fenton Fairy Lamp With Matching Clock Beautiful Antique Westmoreland Blue Opalescent Corinth Carnival Glass Jip VaseFenton Cranberry Opalescent Vase Sample Selling With No Reserve!!Fenton Dave Fetty Stunning Milkglass & Ruby Tall Spiral Vase Hand Signed 2003Fenton Vase "rose & Forget Me Not" Hand Painted Signed #45/750 (see Shipping)Fenton Glass Spanish Lace Aqua Turquoise Blue 12 1/2" Tall Scalloped Cake StandFenton Cranberry Carnival Art Glass Coindot Coin Dot Water Pitcher Handle Nr YqzAntique Fenton Carnival Glass Plate Dish Cobalt Blue Holly Vine Pattern Rare!Fenton Family Signed 3 Pc Rosalene Ginger Jar Made In 2004 No ReserveVintage 1940-55 Yellow Fenton French Opalescent Hobnail Perfume Bottle W StopperVintage 1940-55 Green Fenton French Opalescent Hobnail Perfume Bottle W StopperFenton Art Glass 2004 Ruby Amberina Stretch Hp Trailing Wisteria Jip, Qvc Fenton Cranberry Daisy And Fern Top Hat, 7 In Tall X 9 In Wide Fenton Burmese Vase Hand Painted Sea Scape1985 Limited Edition No Reserve!Fenton Orange Tree Antique Carnival Art Glass~variant~ics Bowl~electric Blue!Lot Of Two Excellent Fenton Fairy Lamps Fenton Qvc C21975 Burmese Natalie Ballerina, Hp Rosebuds, 6 1/2 In Fenton Art Glass Ruby Big Cookies Basket 2 Piece Fenton Lavender Cabbage Rose 19.5" Marble Base Brass Electric Table LampGorgeous...antique Fenton Blue Horse Medallion Carnival Glass Bowl..nrTall Fenton Glass Burmese Handpainted Signed Vase, Stands 10" Tall Dave Fetty Pumpkin Orange W/ Milkglass Hanging Hearts Hand Signed Dave FettyFenton Art Glass Plum Opalescent Iridized Waterlily Basket Fenton Burmese Bell Hand Painted Fish Sea Shells By Marilyn Wagner No ReserveNice Fenton Blue Spiral Optic Art Glass Fairy Lamp Dave Fetty Multi Color Iridescent Vase W/ Milkglass Pulled Feathers & CrestFenton Rare Satin French Swirled Feather Hurricane /milk Glass Base~~awsome !!! Fenton Peach Crest Hp Watercolor Floral Basket 6884wv 100th Aniversary Ltd EdFenton Cranberry Carnival Art Glass Coindot Coin Dot Oil Vinegar Cruet Milk YqzFenton Art Glass Burmese Vase "trout" 1996 Connoisseur Collection Le Dave Fetty Blown Egg Cobalt Blue/ Lt Gray/ Dark Gray W/ Black King Tut Swirls Fenton Green Burmese Coastal Waters Large Vase Made In 2000 Selling No Reserve!Fenton Hand Signed Dated 2007 Dave Fetty Mosaic Vase Selling With No Reserve!!!!Fenton Horse Medallion Antique Carnival Art Deco Glass Plate~marigold~beautiful!Dave Fetty Martha Reynolds Fenton Leaves & Vines Vase Ltd Edition 610/950Carnival Glass.fenton Blue Peacock And Urn Ics Bowl.great Iridescence.vgc.Hand Signed And Painted Fenton BasketFenton Art Glass Candleglow Yellow Spiral 'melon' Electric Lamp Circa 1983-84Fenton Art Glass Ice Green Satin Oval Logo Fagca 1980Fenton Blue Glass Handpainted By J. Brown Signed Vase, Stands 101/2" TallAbsolutely Stunning! Fenton Large Vaseline Opalescent Daisy & Fern Rose BowlFenton Cranberry Carnival Art Glass Coindot Coin Dot Ruffled Top Vase Nr YqzFenton Cranberry Carnival Art Glass Hobnail Bowl Vase Ruffled Rim Opalescent YqzFenton Art Glass 2006 Made For Qvc Aquamarine Iridized Hp Basket, 7 InFenton Waterlily Footd Sauce In "red"Purple Slag Cat Hand Made From Fenton Cullet Glass Selling With No Reserve!!!Fenton Apple Blossom Heart Relish Made In 1960 Selling With No Reserve!!Fenton Art Glass 2011 Blue Burmese Hp AngelFenton 2005 Cobalt Fairy Lamp With Winter SceneFenton Little Fishes Outstanding Red-hot Dark Marigold Carnival Glass Ftd Bowl Fenton Art Glass Burmese Mini Epergne!Fenton Carnival Glass Open Edge Two Row Jip Basket Or Hat Circa 1910

Recent News: Fenton Glass

Source: Google News

Collecting by Larry Cox: Dickens Village pieces, finger bowls
Wilson County News, February 11th

A: It is worth just about what you paid for it, according to “Warman's Fenton Glass: Identification and Price Guide” by Mark. F. Moran and published by Krause Books. Your piece was made for the L.G. Wright Glass Company during the 1970s. Q: You...Read more

Harold Dale Case
Parkersburg News, February 2nd

He was born June 5, 1925, in Tioga, W.Va., the son of Howard Case and Leona D. Hickman Case of Parkersburg. Harold retired from Fenton Glass, was in the Navy during WW II and in the South Pacific. He was a member for 50 years in the Masonic Lodge in ...Read more

Fletcher's Gifts closes its doors after 50 years
WLTZ 38 NBC, January 29th

After 50 years in business, a Phenix City institution, Fletcher's gifts will be closing its doors. Fletcher's opened in downtown Phenix City as a appliance store before growing into a traditional gift shop. They specialize in collectibles, like Fenton...Read more

Mary Ann (Jassmann) Hart February 19, 1937 - January 24, 2015
Lusk Herald, January 28th

In her spare time, she enjoyed collecting all types of items such as: chickens, Fenton glass, angels, birds, tea pots and salt and pepper shakers. She also enjoyed special memories of camping and fishing trips with her family. She loved having the...Read more

Fenton Glass battling for survival
Martins Ferry Times Leader, January 17th

Fenton Glass battling for survival. January 26, 2014. By Jackie Runion , Times Leader. Save | Post a comment |. After almost a decade of financial ups and downs that have severely altered the face of Fenton Art Glass, the outlook of the almost 109-year...Read more

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

After almost a decade of financial ups and downs that have severely altered the face of Fenton Art Glass, the outlook of the almost 109-year-old Williamstown company is fairly grim, with the possibility it could soon be out of business entirely. "I...Read more

Save the Dates: More than 1500 pieces of Fenton art glass to be sold in 2014
Antique Trader, November 14th

WILLIAMStOWN, W. Va. — The Fenton Art Glass Co. and the Fenton Gift Shop have scheduled three auctions during 2014 to sell more than 1,500 items of Fenton glass. Auctions are set for April 26, June 14 and July 26 at auctioneer Randy Clark's Dexter...Read more

Fenton glassworks at Williamstown soon to re-open
State Journal, March 13th

During Miller's tenure the college has claimed increased enrollment and an endowment that has grown to more than $50 million. During Miller's tenure the college has claimed increased enrollment and an endowment that has grown to more than $50 million...Read more