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]

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]



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]

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    

Vtg Fenton Art Glass Painted Landscape Burmese Satin Crystal Parlor Student LampVtg Fenton Art Glass Painted Dogwood Burmese Satin Crystal Prism Boudoir LampSet Of 9 Vintage Fenton Cranberry Glass Coin Dot Optic 4" Juice TumblersFenton Gwtw Lamp; Opalescent & Painted Globes With Rose Crest Circa 1980'sFenton Hobbs Stars And Stripes Opalescent Cruet Fenton Mulberry Large Squat Perfume Cologne Bottle - Amazing Color!!Fenton Glass Bird Natural Chipping Sparrow Striking Pretty Ooak By Cc HardmanFenton Flat Apron Beach Blow With Wild Rose Overlay Fairy Lamp Limited Edition Fenton Art Glass Spiral Optic 2-piece Epergne 1960s Fenton L.g. Wright Pair Lamp Shades Cranberry Opal Honeycomb Dot~~#1Huge Vintage Fenton 28" Ruffled Honey Suckle Opalescent Coin Dot Table Lamp N/rFenton Art Glass 11" New Century Tulip Vase Vtg Fenton Glass Epergne Hobnail Pink 3 Horn Vase Flower Arranger RuffledVintage Fenton Milk Glass Hobnail Cake Plate Stand Ruffled EdgeAntique Fenton Captive Rose Star Shape Green Carnival Glass BowlFenton Handpainted Fairy LampFenton / Lg Wright Cranberry Opalescent Coin Dot Barber BottleFenton Pig Piglet - Hula Girl Violet Satin - Qvc 2005 Limited To 250 "shelley" Carnival Fantastic Blue Orange Tree Powder Jar With Original Lid And Perfect!!!Fenton Silver Crest Aqua Cake StandFenton Antique Carnival Glass Grape & Cable Ftd Flared Center Piece Bowl~blue!Fenton Milk Glass W/ Black Head Alley CatFenton Burmese Butterfly Basket 6 1/2' Tall MintFenton Hand Painted Purple Satin Cased Glass Rose BowlFenton Blue Carnival Glass Plate "orange Tree" Very Vibrant Colors Fenton Hobnail Vases LotFenton Glass Gold Bell Covered Bridge Cabin Waterwheel Pretty Ooak By Cc HardmanVintage Fenton Plum Opalescent Hobnail Bowl 10" Rare NrFenton Black Satin Sand Carved Carnival Butterflies Chessie Cat Candy JarVintage Fenton Cranberry Opalescent Hobnail Large Vase 8" Flared & Ruffled TopFenton Cranberry Opalescent Hobnail Jug Pitcher And 8 Tumblers, C.1941 - Rare**extremely Rare** Fenton Plum Hobnail Opalescent Art Glass Swung Six Pc. Set Fenton Opalescent Pitcher/vase/hobnailFenton Hand Painted Signed D. Robinson €Fenton Pink Burmese "four Seasons" Vase W/ Deer & Cabin Limited Edition 20061960s Fenton L.g. Wright Pair Lamp Shades Cranberry Opal Honeycomb Dot~~#2Fenton Art Glass Carnival Glass Irridescent Purple Miniature Rooster Figurines1995 Fenton Plum Overlay Rib Optic Basket - Nib #878 - Bill Fenton Signed MintVtg Fenton Cranberry Opalescent Bride's Basket Hobnail 10" Fenton Handpainted Carnival Aqua Blue Green Bunny Floral Design Signed By ArtistX 2 Fenton Iridescent/white Christmas Tree W/gold Squirrel *holiday Treat*Antique Fenton Carnival Glass Cherry Red Dragon Lotus Bowl Ice Cream Shape Red Fenton Hobnail Cake Plate - Depression Glass Fenton Lotus & Grape Antique Carnival Glass 2 Handled Bon Bon~scarce Green~sharpFenton Burmese Handpainted Lmtd Edition Love Bouquet Vase 6" Tall # 7558wq Lot1Fenton Spanish Lace Pink Cake Stand Vintage 1950's Mint Condition Milk GlassEarly Fenton Art Glass Blue & Purple Satin Diamond Quilt Vase Pitcher SuperbFenton Art Glass Cranberry Opalescent Stripe Barber Wine Decanter Bottle C1950'sFenton Cranberry Daisy And Fern Lamp ShadeFenton Art Glass Figurine-1985 Cobalt Blue/green Carnival Mallard DuckFenton Grape Cable Scarce Color Teal Carnival Glass Ball Footed BowlFenton Hand Painted Dark Blue Satin Cased Glass Rose BowlFenton Hand Painted Light Blue Satin Cased Glass Rose Bowl1960s Fenton Lg Wright "daisy & Fern" Parlor Lamp Cranberry Opal Satin Mt. Washington Amberina Hobnail Glass Water PitcherFenton Topaz Yellow Opalescent Hobnail Small BasketFenton Art Glass Cranberry Basket Handpainted And Signed By Sue Jackson 460/2000Fenton Exclusive Mary Walrath Burmese Love Bouquet Miniature Rose Bowl MintFenton Cranberry Fairy Lamp W/candle Handpainted Item # 01700cwFenton Glass Black Bear Cub Sunset Sweet Unique Pretty Ooak By Cc Hardman

Recent News: Fenton Glass

Source: Google News

Antiques & Collectibles: Easter holiday has hatched a variety of collector's items
Post-Bulletin, April 18th

Sarah Kieffer, owner of Sarah's Uniques, St. Charles, said, "The bunnies I have are the old paper-mache, fuzzy plastic and some Fenton glass bunnies ranging in price from $12 up to $65. I also have a lot of the vintage German paper-mache eggs that come ...Read more