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    

Fenton Orange Tree Antique Carnival Art Glass Loving Cup~rare Green~very Sharp!Fenton Purple Mikado Ics Compote10.75" 1975 Fenton Glass Limited Certificate Turquoise Hanging Hearts Vase Vaseline Opal Dragon And Lotus Carnival Glass Bowl, Hard To Find, NrFenton Orange Tree Orchard Antique Carnival Glass 7 Pc Water Set~marigold~sharp!Rare 1976 Iridescent Turquoise Hanging Hearts Fenton Art Glass Compote *perfect*Fenton Art Glass Ooak Handpainted Opal Satin Glass VaseFenton Alley Cat ! Hand Painted Orange & Black Tiger M-0874 Rare Huge Vintage Fenton Single Horn Royal Blue Center Piece EpergneFlawless 1976 Turquoise Iridescent Hanging Hearts Basket Fenton Glass Signed S Carnival Glass Punch Bowl Set Fenton Orange Tree M-0872 Vintage Fenton Single Horn Peach Crest Crimped, Ruffled Rim EpergneGray Slag Ghost One Of A Kind Hand Painted Pumpkins, Bats, Cats, Trees, Fence !Fenton Pink Chiffon Opalescent Rib Optic Basket Handpainted Signed L.everson Fenton Peacock At The Urn Antique Carnival Glass Plate~blue~ultra Rich~sharp!!!Green Pastel Fenton Glass Lambs Tongue Footed Candy Jar Dish Box 1950s 4381-gpOld Fenton Green Hobnail Opalescent Vaseline Glass Basket – Mint Condition.Rare!! Fenton Amethyst Chrysanthemum & Sailboat Carnival Glass Bowl Antique ArtGorgeous Marked Fenton 4.5" Plum Opalescent Hp Butterfly-brass Stand/artist SignFenton Plum Opalescent Hobnail Candle Holders W/original Foil Stickers - PerfectFenton Orange Tree Antique Carnival Glass Ruffld Bowl W/ Tree Trunk Center~blue!Hobnail Blue Glass Cream & Sugar, & Glass Spoon FentonFenton Lotus Mist Burmese Single Horn Epergne Butterflies And Berries #788/2950Super 3n1! Fenton Blue Carnival Glass Antique Vintage Iridescent Holly Bowl ArtVintage Fenton Lidded Jar Pearlized Iridescent With The Chessie Cat Signed Marilyn Wagner Fenton Glass Cat Figurine Roaslene SatinLot Of Five Gorgeous Antique Fenton Butterfly And Berry Tumblers In BlueBeautiful Older Lamp - Blue Diamond Bubble Optic - 25 1/2" Tall - Nice - AntiqueHobbs Cranberry Glass Fenton Finger Berry Bowl Antique Coin DotFenton Art Glass Ooak Opal Satin Glass Doll FigurineNature Scene 19 1/2" Opal Satin Hand Painted Fenton Lamp - X8103hp - MibFenton Hand Painted CatVintage 1979 Valentines's Day Fenton Ruby Glass Snow Crest Heart Shaped Bon BonSigned P. Lauderman Fenton Glass Cat Figurine Yellow SatinFenton Satin Art Glass 1714bd Chickadee Ballet Hand Painted Christmas Ornament Hard To Find Aqua!! Fenton Peacock Dahlia Carnival Glass Bowl Antique IridescentPeacock & Urn Plate Blue Fabulous Iridescence Absolutely No Reserve!!!Beautiful Pink Opalescent One Horn Epergne Green CrestDave Fetty Blown Sitting Bear Turquoise With Multi Color Frit Cat ! Wow!Fenton Satin Art Glass 1714nb Bluebird In Snowfall Painted Christmas Ornament Fenton Orange Tree Punch Bowl In WhiteFenton Iridized Carnival Glass Purple Amethyst Grooming Cat Figurine Nr1950s Vintage Cranberry Opalescent Fenton 21" Electric Lamp - Hobnail -nrVintage Fenton 50th Anniversary Mulberry Art Glass Vase Signed Hand PaintedMichael Fenton Art Vaseline Glass Petite Bell Ruffle Signed Hand Painted EastonRare Fenton Art Glass Budweiser Clydesdales Satin Glass VaseVintage Set Of 6 Fenton Blue Opalescent Hobnail 8 Oz. Water Goblet. Estate FindVtg Fenton Cranberry Glass Basket Signed By ArtistWow Koi! Fenton Carnival Glass Art Atlantis Fish Iridescent Fairy Lamp Red! MintFenton Glass Plum Carnival Peacock And Dahlia BasketSquare!! Fenton Carnival Glass Vase Hat Blackberry Spray Antique Iridescent ArtFenton Purple Plum Opalescent Hobnail Fan Vase 8-1/4" 1970s Fenton Milk Glass Hobnail Handpainted Gwtw Lamp - Signed Louise PiperSweet!!! Fenton Peacock Tail Carnival Glass Bowl Antique Iridescent Art AmethystFenton Plum Opalescent Art Glass Hobnail Wine Glass Goblet Stem Cordial1970s Fenton Cranberry Opalescent Hobnail Oil Cruet #3863Vintage Fenton Opalescent Cranberry Coin Spot/dot Ruffled Crimped Rim Vase 7"Fenton Little Fishes Antique Carnival Glass Ftd Ics Sauce~marigold~fantastic! Vintage Set Of 4 Fenton Blue Opalescent Hobnail 4" Sherbet. Estate FindFenton Ruby Hand Painted Fireworks God Bless America Fairy Light Qvc 2003

Recent News: Fenton Glass

Source: Google News

Redlands Daily Facts, June 19th

Historical Glass Museum: Bill Summers, vice president of the Historical Glass Museum, will give a presentation on Fenton glass 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the museum, 1157 N. Orange St., Redlands. Information: historicalglassmuseum.com or 909-798-0868...Read more

Historical Glass Museum in Redlands offers program on Fenton glass
Redlands Daily Facts, June 17th

Bill Summers, vice president of the Historical Glass Museum, will give a presentation on Fenton glass 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the museum, 1157 N. Orange St., Redlands. Using examples from the museum's collection, Summers will speak on “How and ...Read more

Kovels.com Top20 Antiques and Collectibles Searches for May 2015
PR Web (press release), June 12th

During May 2015, collectors found for prices for: 1) Fenton glass, 2) Occupied Japan, 3) Bavaria, 4) Wedgwood, 5) McCoy pottery, 6) Dinnerware, 7) Coca-Cola, 8) Delft, 9) Depression Glass, 10) Stove, 11) Capo-Di-Monte ceramics, 12) Hull pottery, 13) ...Read more

Mildred Hunting Tebbutt Glass
WatertownDailyTimes.com, May 19th

Also, a daughter-in-law, Alayne Fenton Glass and her children: Jillian Fenton, Erica Fenton Castillo, and Karlyn Hinkley and their families. Her grandchildren are: Alexander R. McKenzie IV (Erica), Christopher M. McKenzie (Jenna), Brooke G. Manno (Jon ...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

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

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

After starting as a volunteer, West Liberty University rising senior Emily Unnone will get paid this year to work with the players during a nine-week internship at the Greenbrier Classic. After starting as a volunteer, West Liberty University rising...Read more