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    

Vintage Pyrex Glass Butter Dish Amish Butterprint Blue White Turquoise Milk TrayVintage Pyrex Amish Butterprint Butter Dish Refrigerator Dish White-milk GlassJeannette Delphite Blue Milk Glass 3 Piece Tab Handled Measuring Cup SetLarge Fenton Iridized Milk Glass Happy Alley Cat Figurine Painted Flowers W/box Vintage Milk Glass Candy ContainerVintage Fire King Kiddie Mealtime Childs Bowl & Cup Set Bear Rabbit MilkglassRare! Vintage Mckee Red Sailboat Ship Milk Glass Egg Cup Or Footed TumblerVintage Milk Glass Fire King Burger King Coffee Mug Cup Bright & Shiny Rare5 Fire King Turquoise Delphite Blue Milk Glass 4.5" Berry Side Sauce Bowls Fenton Cranberry White Stars Sm Milk Pitcher Red Unique Creamer Ribbed HandleVtg Signed Fenton White Milk Glass Hobnail 12 1/2" Cake Stand Plate Near MintVintage Mckee Red Sailboat Ship Milk Glass Round Refrigerator Dish W/ LidVintage Mckee Red Sailboat Ship Milk Glass Refrigerator Dish W/ Lid Rectangular2 Kimberly Pearl Luster Iridescent Aurora Fire King Milk Glass Mugs Vintage Anchor Hocking Tulip Metal Lid Salt Pepper Shakers Milk Glass Fire KingDave Fetty Off Hand Perfume Bottle Milkglass W/ Cobalt Blue Hanging Hearts !!4 Fire King Jadeite D Handle Coffee Mugs Jade-ite Green Milk Glass ~ No Reserve Rare Antique Pressed Glass Black Opaque Egyptian Lady Candle Stick CandelabraVintage Fenton Glass Milk White Hobnail Large Pedestal Cake Pie Stand.Vintage Fire King Tulip Flowers Salt And Pepper Shakers White Milk GlassVintage Square Milk Glass Pedestal Cake Stand-diamond Quilted Pattern W/rum WellVintage Milk Glass Cream & Sugar Set Childrens Dishes Figures Farm Cow PatternSuperb Vintage Fenton White Milk Glass Hobnail Pedestal Cake Plate 12 1/2" ExlntVintage Mckee Red Sailboat Ship Milk Glass Drippings Grease Jar W/ LidVtg Fire King Glamalite Milk Glass Tumbler Glitter Red Orange Blue Green Lot 5 Set (4) Vintage Anchor Hocking Fire King White Kimberly Diamond Mugs Milk Glass2 Fire King Turquoise Delphite Blue Milk Glass 10 Ounce Chili Cereal BowlsWestmoreland Sky Blue Milk Glass Hen On Nest Basket Dish Turned Head Split TailTarentum Glass Georgia Gem Green Opaque Cruet Circa Late 1800'sVintage Fenton Milk Glass Minty White Hobnail Dish W/ Lid Old & RarePair Of Jadeite Green Milk Glass Panel Pattern Tumblers Cups Goblets Jadite JadeWhite Milk Glass Compote Candy Dish Lid Filigree Pattern CollectibleFenton Glass - Hand Rubbed Blue Satin On Milk Tobacco Jar ~ 1969 ~ Hard To FindSnoopy Milk Glass Mug Pedal Power By Anchor HockingVintage Fenton Milk Glass Owl Ring Holder Bobble Head White Dish Hobnail OldVintage Mckee Red Sailboat Ship Milk Glass BowlVintage Indiana Glass White Milk Glass Harvest Grape Canister Jar 8 3/4"Yellow Milk Glass Tumbler Wheat Daisy 8oz L.g.wright Modified N Vase Fenton Milk Glass Hobnail Candy Dish Or Planter. 4 Legs. Fenton++ Vintage Green Fire-king Jadeite 20 Oz. Breakfast 4" X 4" Milk Pitcher Vintage Indiana Glass White Harvest Grape Milk Glass Canister Cookie Jar 9 3/4"Westmoreland China White Milk Glass Paneled Grape Pattern Soap DishAnchor Hocking Fire King Flower Power Milk Glass Mug Set Of 3 Stackable CupBeautiful Fenton Milk Glass Hobnail 5 Inch Dish With Lid-excellent Condition!Jadeite Green Glass Deviled Egg Serving Plate Platter Tray Jadite Jade Milk MintVintage Murano Cenedese Vetri Opaque Glass Obelisk SculptureMilk Glass Covered Dog On Nest Signed VallerysthalRare Form: Victorian Milk Glass Cat In Shoe FigurineVtg Retro Fire King Hazel Atlas Milk Glass Nesting Cereal Bowls Turquoise YellowVintage Aquarius Fire King Milk Glass Zodiac Coffee Cup Mug LqqkVintage Fire King Anchor Hocking Handle Milk Glass And Pink Coffee Tea Mug Victorian Milk Glass Dresser Tray Gold Trim 9" X 4 1/2"Vintage Lot Of Milk Glass Hobnail, Fenton, Candle Holder, Votives, Small PitcherWhite Milk Glass Hobnail Honey Dish Bowl With Glass Dipper Top & HandleBeautiful Little Vintage Antique Milk Glass Satin Glass Vase With Desert PalmsWaterford Crystal Water Milk Juice Ice Lip Jug Pitcher Lismore Pattern Westmoreland Milk Glass Punch Bowl Set - Three FruitsFenton Lamb's Tongue Salt Shaker Pink Opaque 2 7/8" T Eapg Ca 2 7/8" T7 Eleven Milk Glass Coffee Mug Souvenir Advertising Glasbake "oh Thank Heaven"Westmoreland Blue Milk Glass Old Quilt Vase

Recent News: Milk Glass

Source: Google News

Giant cheese sculpture wows fairgoers
Agri News, August 26th

It's a tiny glimpse into the efforts of dairy farmers to make quality products. In the statue, we also made a small blueberry yogurt, our Winners Drink Milk glass, chocolate milk, and our star — a gallon of milk. Erica Quinlan can be reached at 317...Read more

Southmoreland institutes new recycling rules
Tribune-Review, August 25th

Items not permitted are ceramics, mirrors, crystal, milk glass, dishes, light bulbs, television tubes, window and auto glass and Pyrex cookware. • Plastic bottles — bottles with narrow necks and a number 1 or a number 2 only in the recycling symbol on...Read more

Colonial Kitchen
Hometown Pasadena, August 24th

Red glass pendant lamps hang from the ceiling and standing lamps—hobnail milk glass with ruffles—line the half-wall that separates the dining areas lined with dark green “button” booths. The long counter is lined with bentwood stools with cane backing...Read more

Museum showcases treasured glass
Press-Enterprise, August 16th

Interesting: This rare serving dish featured a boar's head lid made of milk glass with red glass eyes and was a gift that came with the purchase of pig head cheese. The two-piece dish was hard to make because of its size, detail and the use of two molds...Read more

Area Exhibitors Do Well at Illinois State Fair
Effingham's News Leader, August 14th

the Postcards and Illinois State Fair Souvenirs or Ribbons after 1950. Third place finishes came in the Carnival Glass and Milk Glass. Kimberly Tarrant, of Altamont, was a winner in the Berry Set, Bowl and 2 Saucers. She took second in the...Read more

'A Manual for Cleaning Women,' by Lucia Berlin
New York Times, August 12th

In “Melina,” several men confess to the narrator that they were once madly in love with a woman who “wasn't like anyone in this world,” her skin like white silk or milk glass. In an almost impossible coincidence, the narrator meets her and befriends her...Read more

$500K project seeks to replace aging Benedum marquee with digital one
Tribune-Review, August 10th

It's a task that Brannigan, 59, considers relatively simple but enjoyable — particularly when he thinks about his father and grandfather working on the same iconic marquee, using milk glass tiles when the building was The Stanley Theatre. Brannigan...Read more

Collectors seek milk glass with hens, squirrels, cows
azcentral.com, July 14th

Question: My mom and dad were married in 1943. They received several pieces of milk glass as wedding presents and I inherited them. I have no intention of selling them but would like to know more about this type of glass and if it is considered...Read more