Milk glass has been around since the 16th century, but the term itself was coined in the 20th century to describe the opaque white plates, goblets, serving items, and decorative objects that became popular in the late 1880s.

France was the first place milk glass came into vogue, and 19th-century French milk glass is highly collectible today. By the early 1900s, milk glass was a symbol of the style and taste of American households enjoying the fruits of the Gilded Age. These privileged individuals filled their homes with milk glass produced by 19th-century U.S. glass manufacturers, including New England Glass Company, Bryce Brothers, Gillinder & Sons, and Atterbury & Company.

Milk glass plates are one of the most popular collectibles from this era. One particularly rare plate featured the face of George Washington and had a border of thirteen stars. Other plates sported relief portraits of Christopher Columbus at their centers, and in 1908, plates were produced to help spur the presidential campaigns of William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft.

Regardless of the imagery at its heart, whether it was relief flowers or painted birds, the borders of milk glass plates were often pressed or molded to resemble latticework or pinwheels. Some edges were scalloped, others were beaded like frosting on the rim of a wedding cake, and a few were even smooth and round, with undecorated centers to go with these uncharacteristically understated edges.

Platters were a step up from plates—unlike dinnerware, which demanded a certain minimum level of functionality, platters could go all-out when it came to decorative effects. The relief on a rare Lincoln platter from the late 1800s is so great that it must have been used exclusively as a commemorative object. At the other end of the utility spectrum were waffle platters, whose gridded surfaces resembled those of the popular breakfast item they were designed to carry. Somewhere in between was the retriever platter, which depicted a three-dimensional dog head breaking through cattails at the bottom of the platter.

For objects such as serving dishes, milk glass was often pressed so that its surface had a diamond-cut pattern—collectors refer to these as Sawtooth pieces. Atterbury was especially well known for its covered Sawtooth dishes in the shapes of ducks, fish, and other animals. In fact, Atterbury made so much milk glass that the company’s Pittsburgh factory was often referred to as the White House.

In a class by themselves are the covered serving dishes, whose tops resembled roosters, chickens, hens, and swans, as well as lions and other less domestic beasts. Sometimes peop...

Jugs and pitchers were another favorite form for milk glass. Geometric and basket-weave reliefs graced the outsides of these handsome objects, and Hobnail patterns were very popular on everything from flower vases to syrup jars.

During the Depression and into the 1940s and ’50s, milk glass lost some of its luster as a symbol of domestic status. Respected glass companies such as Akro Agate, Westmoreland, Fenton, and Fostoria made milk glass, but the style seemed a throwback to an earlier, fustier age.

Akro Agate made powder jars, whose lids were in the shapes of Colonial-era women wearing billowy dresses. Fostoria made a pink version of milk glass, while Westmoreland made things like covered dishes whose tops and bottoms formed a kneeling camel. It was all very charming but seemed out of step with the evolving styles of the day.

Despite this, some companies actually made a name for themselves with milk glass. In particular, Fenton’s line of Hobnail milk glass—from fan-shaped vases to toothpick holders to candlesticks—became the company’s flagship pattern in the 1950s. Indeed, the company’s prodigious output and success with Hobnail milk glass contributed to a resurgence of interest in this retro form during the early 1960s.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Milk Glass Collectors Society

Milk Glass Collectors Society

This excellent milk glass reference site is definitely not for the lactose intolerant. Includes seven high resoluti… [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]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Lot 8 Pcs Fenton Milk Glass Violets In The Snow Wavecrest Jar Fairy Lamp CompoteDreamy Pink And White Milkglass Fenton Chessie Cat Lidded Jar...l@@k!Rare Sandwich Opaque Light Blue Pressed Peacock Eye Open Salt Neal Po 4 Vintage Seville Yellow Milk Glass Square Mckee Cereal Canister With Screw Lid Vintage Fenton Silver Crest Milk Glass Hand Painted Pedestal Cake Plate Rare Antique Vintage Glass Souvenir Paperweight With Painted Scene On Milk GlassVintage Jeannette Delphite Light Blue Salt Pepper Set Jadeite Ribbed Milk GlassVintage Hazel Atlas Set Of 9 Red Stripe Milk Glass Tumblers 5" Tall 2 Hobnail End Table Bedroom Lamps (lamp) White Milk Glass Fenton ? Unmarked Anchor Hocking Fire King Oven Ware White Milk Glass Restaurant Ware BowlsVintage Fenton Epergne Hobnail Milk Glass 3 Horns Flower Vase White Bowl Art Nr1950s Vaseline Hobnail Lamp W/milk Glass BaseRare-vtg Baker White Milk Glass Bowl W Chicks/birds~made In Baker,finland~easterVintage Rare Pink Milk Glass Cream & Sugar Set With TrayFenton Milk Glass Butter Dish2 Vintage Milk Glass Hens Mini Westmoreland & Mermaid Shepard Base Fenton Turquoise Blue Milk Glass Hobnail Console Compote. 1950'sVintage Fenton Hobnail Milk Glass Pedestal Cup Cake Stand Ruffled Wedding PlateVtg Lot Anchor Hocking Fire King Red Milk White Salt Pepper & Grease Jar VitrockHobnail End Table Bedroom Lamp White Milk Glass Fenton ? Unmarked Vintage Fenton Silver Crest Pink Cased Milk Glass Hand Painted Melon Rose Bowl4 Soup Bowls Fire King Anchor Hocking White Milk Glass Restaurant Ware Flat Rim Vintage Pyrex... 0ne Pint Casserole... Friendship Pattern... With Milk Glass LidVintage Milk Glass Cake Plate Platter 13" Heart Scalloped Edge Jade Jadite Jadeite Milk Green Glass Salt & Pepper Shaker SetVintage Venini Murano Italy Vase Signed Tall Ivory White Opaque Glass FootedOld Twa Airlines C Handled Fire King Milk Glass Advertising MugVtg Fire-king Ware Milk Glass Coffee Mug Cup Batman & Robin Boy Wonder CharacterVintage Fenton Milk Glass Cranberry Hand Painted Roses LampVintage Glasbake Mckee 6 Square Soup Cups Lipton Promo Mid Century Milk GlassVintage Gold Floral Butterfly Pyrex Milk Glass Mugs, Butter Dish, Sugar&creamer Rene Lalique Cockerel (rooster), Peach Opaque & Clear Crystal Figurine, NibOld Antique 1940s Jenny Lind Double Cameo White Milk Glass Alcohol Decanter NrVintage Anchor Hocking Fire King Tulip Milk Glass Pepper Shaker 53nkct, Ah UsaMosser Collie - Cobalt And Milk SlagWestmoreland Milk Glass Paneled Grape 4 Piece Vanity Dresser Set Roses & Bows Vintage Fenton Silver Crest Rare White Milk Art Bowl Basket Silver Crest LargeAnchor Hocking Fire-king Ware Lot~apple & Orange~stacking Coffee Mug~milk GlassVintage Hand Painted Milk Glass Covered Handled Urn Figural Naked Lady HandleVintage "fenton" Milk Glass Hobnail Napkin Rings (set Of 4) Very RareLot Of 4 Vintage Hobnail Milk Glass Trumpet Vases..hockingVintage Milk Glass Tumblers (6) With Grapes And Leaves DesignVintage Set Of 6 Fire King Tom & Jerry Milkglass Snowflake MugsImperial Nesting Hen Rooster Setting On Open Lace Work White Milk Glass CoveredFenton Hobnail Blue Oplaline Milk Glass Violet VaseMilk Glass Pedastal Candy DishFenton Milk Glass VaseBright Yellow, White & Blue Opaque Floral Contemporary Art Glass Marble, Hulet?Fire King Snoopy Noel Mug Woodstock Anchor Hocking Peanuts Milk Glass 60s 70s 4 Vintage Milk Glass Hand Painted Lattice Edged Plates 10.75"Vintage Fenton Art Glass Hobnail Milk Glass Pedestal Candy Dish W/ Lid! Lovely!Vintage Fenton Silver Crest Pink Cased Milk Glass Hand Painted 8" VaseVintage Corning Milk Glass Handleless Navy Watch Mug ~ Shaving Coffee Warmer ~ Lot 10 Jade Jadite Jadeite Milk Green Glass - Shakers Measuring Cup Egg CupVintage Set Of 2 Eo Brody Milk White Glass Hobnail Flower Bud Vases Vintage Fire-king Blue Ombre Milk Glass Mug "d" Handle Stackable Vintage White Milk Glass Hobnail Sugar And Creamer With Lids11 Rare Vintage Fire King Anchor Hocking Kimberly Mugs Milk Glass Green OrangeOpaque White Teardrop And Tassel Greentown SpoonerVintage Westmoreland Milk Glass Santa & Sleigh Covered Candy Trinket Dish

Recent News: Milk Glass

Source: Google News

A toy's value also can be found in history
Las Vegas Review-Journal, September 20th

Q: I have a milk glass rolling pin with wood handles that my mother got in 1931, and I got it when I married in 1954. I use it all the time and love it. Does it have any value? A: Rolling pins were first used over 1,000 years ago. Early pins were...Read more

New Chintz Room to highlight menu items, treasures from the past
Columbus Dispatch, September 19th

Look above the bar though, and you find milk glass light fixtures, reputedly from the old Chintz Room, the most formal of Lazarus' dining rooms. Co-owner Michael Hermick has other treasure as well – boxes of Chintz Room, and other Lazarus restaurants, ...Read more

Kereru coo softly in majestic oak tree
New Zealand Herald, September 19th

There's a dining area off the roomy lounge which has a wet-back fireplace and a pair of milk-glass light fittings which once hung in an Epsom church. Kay has always adored sunny mornings in their master bedroom which is big enough to include a lounge ...Read more

Cooks & Cocinas: Tracy and Jack Williams
San Antonio Express-News, September 18th

It shows no scars from years of children's art projects and dining. Top-shelf décor: Mosser milk glass cake plates in green and turquoise add a splash of color on top of the refrigerator. “I wanted something playful and colorful to contrast with the...Read more

Interior Design Moves On To Greener Pastures
Hartford Courant, September 17th

For a subtle touch, try glass dresser knobs in green (left); dishware, like this emerald tumbler (right), has always been a way to capture trends. For a subtle touch, try glass dresser knobs in green (left); dishware, like this emerald tumbler (right...Read more

Antique children's toys tell long-forgotten stories
HeraldNet, September 11th

rolling pin was invented by John W. Reed, a black American inventor. Rolling pins that are decorated, carved or have advertisements on them sell for more than plain pins. A milk glass rolling pin without decoration but with a brand name sells for...Read more

Rose Room a blooming success for Bridges
Broken Arrow Ledger, September 8th

For an optional additional $50 the room can be set for BBQs, the red-and-white American Dream, English Countryside or Colony Harvest. It is also possible to rent cups and saucers for tea parties at home as well as almost any Milk Glass piece needed for...Read more

Collectible milk glass is both pretty and practical
The Spokesman Review (blog), August 21st

I'm not a milk glass collector, although there are many people who are, but I do occasionally pick up a particularly pretty piece when I can put it to some practical use. Living in a small cottage means that what comes into the house must serve some...Read more