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    

Mcm Pyrex Atomic Eyes 2.5 Qt Large Bowl & Lid Turquoise White Milk Glass Rare3 Vintage Pyrex Milk Glass & Turquoise Tea Or Coffee Mugs Very NiceRare Milk Glass Medicine Bottle M.k. Paine Druggist & Apothecary Windsor VermontLot Of 3 Anchor Hocking Fire King Fruit White Milk Glass Stackable Coffee MugsUnusual Milk Glass Painted Pineapple Jam Jar Mid Century ModernFenton Rose Pastel Pink Milk Glass Backward "c" Pattern Cake Plate, CompotePyrex Ovenware Milk Glass Bowl W/ Blue Poka Dots 2-1/2 Qt. UsaVintage Fenton 1940's Pink Crest Milk Glass Crimped 10" BowlVtg 1960s Retro Federal Milk Glass Blue Flower Power Mod Groovy Mixing Bowl Vintage 1950's Serro Scotty Sportsman Milk Glass Mug Cup Camper TrailerVintage White Milk Glass Butter Dish W/ Lid~ Decorative "euc"Fenton Milk Glass Hobnail Pedestal Cake Stand Plate 12.5"Fire King "nasa" Space Shuttle Souvenir Advertising Milk Glass Coffee Mug Cup Fenton White And Magenta Opaque Sleeping Glass Cat (5064)Eapg Milk Glass Trinket Dish Vallerysthal Fish Some Red Paint Carp Rare Blenko Blue Milk Bottle Shaped Glass Bottle Husted1965 Anchor Hocking Fire King Milk Glass Snoopy Red Baron MugVintage Fenton Art Glass Gone With The Wind White Milk Glass Embossed Roses LampVintage Mckee Jadeite Green Milk Glass Sunkist Reamer Juicer Pat 68764 Usa NrSet Of 5 Fire King Jadeite & Milk Glass 5" Chili BowlsMilk Glass Cake Plate Stand A Candle SticksVintage Jadite Creamer/milk PitcherPretty Fenton Pink Encased Milk Glass White Blown Vase W/ruffled Edges Free ShipWestmoreland Milk Glass Paneled Grape Round Butter DishVintage L.e Smith Milk Glass Moon & Stars Miniature Hurricane Oil Lamp 9.5" Milk Glass Pair Of “three Duck Vases” By PortieuxPyrex Friendship 1 Pint 471 And 1.5 Pint 472 Orange & Red White Milk Glass LidVintage Fenton Pink Hobnail Milk Glass Small Ruffled VaseCambridge Helio Purple Opaque Glass Vase With Gold PipingVintage Fenton Mint Green Hobnail Milk Glass Small Ruffled Vase3 Pcs White Milk Glass Pink Ruffled Hobnail Vase Vintage Fenton 2 Vase & 1 DishVintage Fenton Pink Hobnail Milk Glass Small Ruffled VaseFenton Vintage White Milk Glass Hobnail Epergne Vase & Bowl Pre-logoVintage Fenton Milk Glass W/attached Aqua Blue Handle Creamer ~ Pitcher 3 3/4"2 Fire King Vintage Snoopy Milk Glass Coffee Cups 1958- 1960's ?Vintage Fenton Mint Green Hobnail Milk Glass Small Ruffled VaseFenton Art Glass Shell Pink Hobnail Milk Glass Cream Pitcher & Sugar Bowl1890 Eapg Milk White Art Glass Double Dice Pattern Salt Shaker - Original LidVintage Tipp Milk Glass Sugar & Pepper Shaker, Blue Lids With Cherry DesignVintage Milk White Fenton Angel Signed S. Stephens Hand PaintedVtg Milk Glass Battleship - Flaccus Brothers - Uss Oregon- Mustard Trinket DishFenton Silver Crest Ribbon Ruffled Goblet Tumbler Milk GlassSet Of 4 Mckee Brand Red Ships Sailboat Pattern Milk Glass Refrigerator Dish Vintage Fostoria Heavy Drape Pink Milk Glass 4 1/8 Rose Bowl Vase Excellent NrVintage Fire King Pittsburgh Steelers D Handle Milk Glass Mug - Htf!Jade Jadite Jadeite Milk Green Glass Arch Salt & Pepper Shaker Set W/ Black CatsWestmoreland Blue Milk Glass Fox On Basket Covered Dish - Glass EyesVintage Hand Painted Fenton Satin Milk Glass Basket SignedFenton Very Large Milk Glass Apothecary Pedestal Jar W Lid Hobnail DesignSet Of 8 Vintage Anchor Hocking Green Milk Glass Stacking Coffee Mugs Vintage Pink Milk Glass Covered Dish, Clam On Pedestal With Shell Lid Fenton Footed Cake Plate - White Milk Glass - Hobnail - Collectible FentonFenton Gone With The Wind Milk Glass Hobnail 3 Way Electric Parlor Lamp 16 Pieces Of Westmoreland Coral Red Beaded Milk Glass Dishes Pyrex Rare Opal White Milk Glass Gold Trim Top Large Mixing Bowl 404 4 Qt HtfWestmoreland Paneled Grape Milk Glass Creamer, Sugar, S&p, 2 Toothpicks & Mayo4 Fenton Glass Slipper Shoes White & Iridescent Milk Glass Hand Painted FloralVintage Mckee Depression Milk Glass Dove Brand Spice Jars Sold By Frank Tea Co. Lot Of 9 Milk Glass Plates..lace Edge..old Colony..anchor Hocking..excellentSuper Rare Millersburg Hanging Cherries Milk Pitcher / Awesome Amethyst

Recent News: Milk Glass

Source: Google News

Davy Crockett, Depression glass
Wilson County News, July 1st

It was made in amber (1940s), crystal (1933-'40), dark green (1960s-'80s), fired-on red (late 1930s) and milk glass (1960s-'80s). There are several excellent references that might be helpful. I especially like “Warman's Depression Glass: A Value and ...Read more

Stock's Avondale model underway in Quail West
Naples Daily News, June 28th

Overhead a traditional chandelier of milk glass and brass will provide ornamental lighting. Outside, the covered lanai encompasses distinct areas for food preparation, casual dining, and comfortable lounging. The outdoor kitchen will include a gas...Read more

Fountain Square abode is awash in color and playful touches
Indianapolis Business Journal, June 26th

“So I told people we bought a house in Michigan.” Other quirky details include a collection of old-fashioned Jadeite milk glass bowls and plates, all displayed in an old-school china cabinet. Their soft green color is echoed in the kitchen, which...Read more

From wacky to cool: Lowe Mill's annual Car Boot Sale features an assortment of ...
AL.com, June 14th

These beautiful spice jars are made from milk glass with teal metal lids. According to the owner, these specific jars served as one of the forerunners of the rewards system at grocery stores back in the day. Artwork by a Las Vegas felon: It's a pretty...Read more

M.Patmos
Style.com, June 12th

Double-face cotton T-shirts had a multi-season appeal, and the striped cashmere polo was just simply appealing. Colorwise, Patmos played with sherbet hues like milk-glass green, chalky pink, and raspberry. In a lineup that felt akin to a greatest hits...Read more

Milk Glass Mrkt brings biscuits, baked goods to North Portland: Cheap Eats
OregonLive.com, December 30th

Opened in November, Milk Glass Mrkt has its roots in a food cart -- owners Nancye Benson and Williams Macklin's sorely missed Moxie Rx -- and has an aesthetic reminiscent of two other popular breakfast spots -- Sweedeedee and Woodlawn Coffee & Pastry ...Read more

Inside Milk Glass Market in North Portland
Eater PDX, November 18th

As Eater reported last week, Nancye Benson proprietor of the pioneering Moxie Rx food cart and former pastry chef of Woodsman Tavern and culinary director of Woodsman Market, opened her own cafe in North Portland on Nov. 8, transforming the former ...Read more

Nancye Benson of Moxie RX Fame Opens Milk Glass Market on N. Killingsworth
Eater PDX, November 13th

The charming, 28-seat Milk Glass Market and cafe opened last weekend in the former Atomic Pizza space on N. Killingsworth Avenue, serving up small plates of breakfast and lunch fare. Warm wood, creamy white paint, and walls of windows provide the ...Read more