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    

Fenton Opalescent Cranberry €Vintage Fenton Burmese Poppy Gone With The Wind LampBeautiful Peacocks On The Fence Carnival Glass Bowl--fenton?-northwood?Lot 8 Pcs Fenton Milk Glass Violets In The Snow Wavecrest Jar Fairy Lamp CompoteFenton Cranberry Opalescent 10" Lamp ChimneyFenton Glass Black Basket Owl Birds Against Yellow Moon Halloween Hand PaintedVintage Fenton Green Poppy Gone With The Wind LampVtg 1940s Charleton Aqua Glass Bride's Basket Roses Forget-me-knots Foil LabelVintage~80s"fenton"glass"cranberry Opalescent Hobnail"lrg"gwtw~3 Wy"lamp"xlntLot 5 Fenton Fairy Lamps-mary Gregory, Opalescent, Hand Painted + Pillar StandOpalescent Vaseline Yellow ~ Daisy & Fern ~ Glass Tumbler Fenton Or Wright NrVintg Fenton Aqua Turquoise Blue Crest 13" Footed Cake Plate Stand With FlowersDreamy Pink And White Milkglass Fenton Chessie Cat Lidded Jar...l@@k!Fenton Art Glass Ooak Halloween Themed Handpainted Persimmon Ginger Jar SetNice Isaac Benesch & Sons Fenton Carnival Glass Advertising Ruffled BowlFenton Opalescent Cranberry €Cobalt Blue Fenton Holly Ruffled Compote / Candy Dish Carnival GlassFenton Gasper Halloween GhostFenton First Edition Full Nativity Set 22k Gold AccentsFenton Orange Tree Antique Carnival Art Glass Variant Plate~electric Blue~hot!!!Vintage~40s"fenton Glass"blue Opalescent"coin Dot"cvrd Candy/bath Powder Jar~xltRare 1940 Fenton Green Opalescent Hobnail Basket + Green Handle & Orig. StickerCirca 1910 Cobalt Blue 8-1/2" Fenton Carnival Glass Thistle Bowl Hard To FindMint~vintage"80's"fenton Glass"src"vaseline"satin Burmese"4 Horn"huge~13"epergneVintage Fenton Art Glass Largest Cranberry Opalescent Hobnail PitcherMarigold Pear / Cherry Footed Ruffled Bowl Spatula Footed Stunningly Rare Vintage Fenton Student Lamp Sample Signed Louise Piper Fenton Topaz Opal Nymphs In Flower Form Bowl With Vintage Fenton Pedestal Fenton 1st Edition Nativity 4pc Set 1997 Holy Family 5280nfFenton White Irridescent Christmas Tree Gold Cat With 95 StickerVintage~40's"vintage"fenton Glass"blue"opalescent"hobnail"3pc"mayonnaise"xlntVintage Opal Fenton Cranberry Hobnail Table LampFenton Song Bird Figurine - Butterfly Florals On Burmese Satin - Qvc 2005Vintage Fenton Vaseline Custard Glass Owl Fairy Lamp! No Reserve! Vintage Cranberry Opalescent Hobnail Water Pitcher And Glass SetHand Painted Fenton Mouse RainbowFenton Farmyard Barnyard Red Amber Carnival Iridescent Glass Bowl Chicken Hens!!Fenton Cranberry Opalescent Hobnail 4.75” Vase Pink - With Crimping5" Fenton Glass VaseFenton Lotus Mist Burmese Elephant2 Fenton Cranberry Hobnail Opalescent Candy Dishes Round Bowl Unmarked 7" & 9.5"Fenton Green ElephantSrcmint~prf~50s"fenton Glass"cranberry"opalescent"coin Dot"ice Lip"6pc"water SetFenton January 2009 Butterflies & Berries Violet Purple 2 Piece Fairy Light LampFenton Htf 1956 Goldenrod Beaded Melon Art Glass Basket - Mint!Fenton Glass Crystal Iridescent Trees, Set Of 2 With Snow And Gold CatFenton Blue Panther Sauce Bowl (early 1900's)Fenton Glass Crystal Iridized Iridescent Christmas Tree With Angel Tree Topper Fenton Hand Painted Burmese Cat Basket, Ltd. Numbered #15 Mothers Day Edition NrFenton Gertie Halloween WitchCarnival Glass.fenton Dragon And Strawberry Bowl.very Rare Pattern.superb Piece.Carnival Very Scarce "blue" Concord Bowl Fenton Plum Opalescent (purple) Cat Gift Shop Exclusive 1990sMint~vintage~1950s"fenton Glass"vy Rare"8.5"black Rose"crest"2pc"hurricane"lampFenton Blue Overlay Beaded Melon Vanity Set Perfumes, Powder JarVintage Pre Logo Fenton Green Opalescent Hobnail Glass 3 Horn Epergne BowlFenton Handpainted Lotus Mist Burmese Butterfly Vase - Limited EditionFenton ElephantReally Nice Antique Cobalt Blue Fenton Paneled Diamond And Bows Vase 6 5/8"Mnt&perf~vintage~50s"fenton Glass"vaseline Opalescent"daisy&fern"9"barber Bottle

Recent News: Fenton Glass

Source: Google News

Absolute auctions set for closeout sale of antiques
TBO.com, September 17th

Included in the mix will be old jewelry, lamps, furniture, Royal Daulton figurines, collectible art and collectible glass, including Depression, carnival and Fenton glass, Harris said. Overall, there are “nine rooms full of different things to be...Read more

Family Promise extends thanks
Davisonindex, September 10th

Chris Snider, McLaren Flint, Hank Graff Chevrolet, Stone Chiropractor, Flint Area School Employees Credit Union, David and Amanda Bentoski, Fenton Glass, Diplomat Pharmacy, Yeo & Yeo CPA, Dr. Brian Beck DO., Optimal Wellness – Brandon McDowell ...Read more

More than $1.26M in grants awarded across state
Charleston Gazette, September 4th

Amber Carman, Huttonsville: $2,500 to purchase a torch with hanger and Fenton Glass frit and cullet, and batch. Christopher L. Clark, Princeton: $2,500 to buy a MacBook Pro and Apple Thunderbolt display to create larger illustrations and stage sets...Read more

Ferguson Gallery holds open house to celebrate new Ferguson-Fenton Artistic ...
The Beacon, August 19th

One year ago in Marblehead, marked a historic event as Ferguson Gallery and the Fenton Glass Company collaborated on a hand-crafted, artistic glass bead. The significance of the creative collaboration is rooted in a century-old tale of American ...Read more