Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fenton Glass


Fenton Glass 101 - A Beginners Guide to Collecting

The Fenton Art Glass Company has been in business for over 100 years and is still making glass today in Williamstown WV. With such a long and productive company history Fenton has made something to make every glass enthusiast a happy collector. There is such a wide variety of items, colors and styles it may be difficult to pick just one to collect. Beginning a collection may seem a little over whelming. Questions I often hear are: "How do I know it’s really Fenton?" and "How can I tell when this was made?"

A few tips to help answer those questions:
How do I know it's Fenton? My glass has a rough mark on the bottom, is it Fenton?

Fenton French Opalescent Diamond Lace Low Console Bowl

Pontil Marks:  99.99% of the time, Fenton will not have a pontil mark on the bottom. A pontil mark is a mark on the bottom of an item where the punty rod was attached during the glass making process. Pontil marks can look like a rough broken chipped mark, a bumpy lump, or a polished concave dimple. Fenton uses snap rings to hold their bases while working with glass rather than punty rods. Exceptions to this rule are some Off Hand Glass made in the 1920’s, which is very rare; and Off Hand Glass made more recently by Master Craftsmen like Robert Barber, Dave Fetty and Frank Workman, which will be signed.

1940's Fenton Topaz Opalescent Hobnail Cruet

My cruet has a pontil mark on the bottom, is it not Fenton?

The mark on the bottom of cruets is not a pontil mark, it is a cut shut mark. Your cruet could still be Fenton. Most items are made right side up in the mold. The bottom of a piece is at the bottom of a mold. Some cruets on the other hand are made upside down. The bottom of the mold forms the top of the cruet. The bottom of the cruet is open in top of the mold. The glass is pulled shut and then cut to form a solid bottom. This “cut shut” process leaves a mark that looks similar to a pontil mark. Many companies used this process to make cruets. A cut shut mark isn’t a positive indicator the item is Fenton but it also can’t be used to rule out that your item isn’t Fenton.

Sticker on Fenton Leaf & Orange Tree Bowl

My piece isn't marked Fenton, could it still be Fenton?

Yes, Fenton did not start using molded marks in their glass until the 1970’s. The majority of Fenton was only marked with a sticker. Most of the stickers have been lost or removed over time.

I believe my piece is Fenton made after 1970 but I can’t find a mark, could it still be Fenton?

Yes, some types of glass and treatments on glass can obscure or remove the mark entirely. Satin glass often losses the mark during the sandblasting process used to make the finish satin. Sometimes Fenton will reapply an etched Fenton oval mark. With Opalescent glass sometimes the heating process used to bring out the opalescence blurs, obscures or flattens out the molded mark. Look very close for an oval even if you can’t see the word Fenton. Colors like Cranberry and Overlay colors are mould blown rather than pressed. Air is used to blow the glass into the mould. Sometimes not enough air pressure causes the logo to be faint in the glass. Again look very closely for a light oval mark.

The key to identifying if an item is Fenton is the pattern and the basic mold shape. There are many great books on Fenton available that show patterns. The mold shape is the main shape of an item including the base and mid-section. The measurement and shape of the base and the main shape of the item can help identify if is Fenton. This is important when collecting Stretch Glass as many of the companies that made Stretch Glass produced very similar items. The finished height and width of items are not overly important. They may vary greatly. The tops and edges of items are manipulated when the glass is hot to form many different item and looks. The same mold could be used to make bowls, baskets, rose bowls and vases in some cases. The size and shape of the base is the most important factor when looking at mold shape.

How old is my piece of Fenton?

Fenton Marks:
The Fenton in an oval logo was first used on Carnival Glass in 1970. The next line to be marked was Hobnail in 1972-1973. By 1975 the logo had been added to all Fenton items.
Fenton added a small number 8 to the logo used for the 80’s decade, 9 for 90’s decade and 0 for 2000 to the present. The numbers can be small and hard to read. It is best to view them with a jewelers loop when trying to identify your decade.
In addition to the Fenton name in the oval, there is also a cursive 'F' in an oval. This denotes that the mould originally belonged to a company other than Fenton. This came into use in 1983. The number system also applies to the decades.

Seconds Marks:
Seconds only began being marked in the early 1990's. A sandblasted Flame which resembles an S was first used. 1996-1998 a sandblasted star, solid or outlined was used to denote a second. Piece marked with two stars were items that Fenton donated to charitable organizations. From 1998 to the present, an uppercase block F is used to mark seconds.

Fenton Stickers:
  • 1925 Oval foil sticker with scalloped edges "Fenton Art Glass" color ivory and silver.
  • 1939-1947 Oval foil sticker with scalloped edges “Handmade in America by Fenton” colors yellow and gold, blue and gold.
  • 1947-1953 Oval foil sticker “Authentic Fenton Handmade” colors brown and silver, yellow and silver, yellow and gold, blue and silver.
  • 1950-1959 Rectangular foil sticker “Authentic Milk Glass Handmade by Fenton” red and silver.
  • 1953-1957 Rectangular foil sticker with angled sides “Authentic Fenton Handmade” colors yellow and gold, blue and silver, yellow and silver.
  • 1957-1970 Foil sticker with glass maker and Fenton oval “Authentic Fenton Handmade” colors magenta and silver, blue and silver.
  • 1970-1985 Paper sticker with glass maker and Fenton oval “Authentic Fenton Handmade” color black, gold and white.
  • 1985-now Oblong silver foil oval sticker “F Fenton Handmade in USA” and “F Fenton Handpainted in USA”
  • Special labels were also used for Handpainted items, items sold on QVC, and items sold during anniversary years.
Dates for some of the main lines:
  • Carnival Glass 1907-1926 and 1970-present
  • Stretch Glass 1917-early 1930’s and 1980-present
  • Acid Etched Satin Patterns 1935-1939
  • Hobnail 1940-present (the first hobnail piece was made in 1935 but the Hobnail line wasn’t introduced until 1940)
  • Crests 1939-present (a few crest pieces were made in the 1920’s and 1930’s but the major crest lines were not started until 1939)
  • Opalescent Coin Dot 1947-1961, 1982 (for Levay), 1989-present
  • Overlay Colors 1939-present

 About the Author

 Cynthia Danielski is a member of Got Vintage Shops and owns and operates her own webstore Senior Moving Specialists and an ebay store also called Senior Moving Specialists.  While her shops sell many different items, Cindy is a second generation Fenton glass collector purchasing her first piece in 1978.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Costume Jewelry

Madeleine Albright's "Statement" Costume Jewelry

Guest blog post by Martin Mulcahey

Madeleine Albright distinguished herself as the first female American Secretary of State, selected by the Clinton administration in 1997, her style of diplomacy finding near universal acclaim. In that role, Secretary Albright carefully formulated her words to send distinct messages. As significantly, she put similar thought into the selection of brooches to adorn her clothing when meeting foreign dignitaries. In her memoir, Albright revealed, “Before long, and without intending it, I found that jewelry had become part of my personal diplomatic arsenal.” That celebrated collection of brooches has morphed into a museum exhibit, serving a dual role as symbols of style and international intrigue. Albright’s pieces range from irreplaceable antiques to ordinary costume jewelry, all chosen for symbolic value rather than gem or metal content. The Madeleine Albright collection features more than 200 pieces, and is touring the country with an extended stop at the Denver Art Museum in April.

For most, the essence of vintage jewelry is an unexplainable attraction they possess over the individual. Fascination with old jewelry bridges time, an items worth judged on unique qualities more than monetary value. For some, it is the knowledge a brooch previously gave joy to another person, who shared a sense of style with them that spans decades and in some cases centuries. The life cycle of vintage jewelry is limitless, dependent on the kindling of an emotional spark to remain relevant. Madeline Albright (a graduate of Kent High School, who spent her teenage years in Denver) is an extreme example of this, whose use of brooches was solely to send a message instead of accessorizing an outfit.

The collection of Secretary Albright tips heavily towards costume jewelry; most that are not were gifted by foreign diplomats in appreciation of her use of pins and brooches. If you are interested in previewing the pieces on display, and captivating tales that accompany them, purchase or check out Ms. Albright’s book 'Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box' at your local library. The stories in the book are more detailed than placards that reside under the brooches in the museum display. The book can double as a conversational piece for the coffee table, steering discussions in the direction of your appreciation for antique jewelry.

Secretary Albright’s use of antique jewelry is certainly a peculiar case, but everyone sends messages with their choice of jewelry. Women with pins, necklaces, and earrings. Alternatively, the man does the same with cufflinks and ties. Ask yourself, what does your jewelry say about you?

Contact Marty:

Want to check out the exhibit?  I know I’ll be checking it out!  April 15, 2012 – June 17, 2012
Photo Credits - Liberty, Gijs Bakker (Netherlands), 1997. Sterling silver, stainless silver watches; 4.2 x 3.6 in. Photo © 2009 by John Bigelow Taylor. Serpent, designer unknown (U.S.A.), circa 1860. 18kt yellow gold, diamond; 2.4 x 1.1 in. Photo © 2009 by John Bigelow Taylor.
About the Contributor

Trisha Nickson is a member of Got Vintage Shops and owns and operated Vogel Haus Vintage on Etsy where she specializes in vintage costume jewelry, skeleton keys and animal figures.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Vintage Pyrex

Bring a vintage look to your kitchen with Pyrex

Butterfly Gold Nesting Mixing Bowls

Pyrex comes in so many patterns and colors that there is sure to be one to match your vintage kitchen style. In addition, it’s useful as well as decorative which is important in any kitchen where space is often at a premium.

Whether your style is bold or country cottage there is a pattern to complement your taste in a variety of pieces including loaf pans, casserole dishes in a selection of shapes and sizes, mixing bowls, pie pans, refrigerator dishes and more!

Primary Color Casserole Dish

Pyrex got its start in 1908 when Corning Glass Works was manufacturing Nonex, a borosilicate low-expansion glass for lamp globes and battery jars. The story goes that Jesse Littleton of Corning discovered the cooking potential of borosilicate glass by giving his wife a casserole dish made from a cut-down Nonex battery jar. Corning then reformulated the glass removing the lead content and started a line of kitchenware. Hopefully Mrs. Littleton received one of the new lead free pieces and got rid of the cut down battery jar!

Early American Refrigerator Dish
Gooseberry Refrigerator Dishes

Another Pyrex story is that the name was created using one of the first products produced, a pie plate, combining that with the EX from the end of Nonex and sticking an R in the middle to make it easy to pronounce. Good thing because I think PIEX would have been quite the tongue twister.

At first all Pyrex was clear glass and then in 1947 Corning Glass Works began producing Pyrex in the colors and patterns we all know and love. New designs were continually introduced to the modern homemaker to keep up with latest trends and a love affair began! 

From mid century designs in turquoise to the harvest gold and avocado green designs so popular in the seventies there is a Pyrex pattern to match your taste and to make tasty meals with too!

Butterprint Refrigerator Dishes

Alas all good things must come to an end and Corning discontinued its production of Pyrex products in 1998 but still licensed the Pyrex brand to other companies. You should be aware that new Pyrex is made with a different glass formula, soda-lime glass, which has been linked to some complaints to the Consumer Product Safety Commission by users reporting that their Pyrex glassware had shattered at high temperatures.

 Another good reason to buy vintage Pyrex!

Primary Color Loaf Pan

To learn more about Pyrex including how to clean and care for your vintage pieces and other useful and
interesting information please visit

About the Author

 Karen Mantone-Pillar is one of the founders and admin of Got Vintage Shops. She currently owns and operates two online shops; Charmings Collectibles on Etsy, and a stand alone web store

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Willow Transferware

Willow Pattern Dinnerware

The Willow pattern is a design that has literally been around for centuries! 

Willow is a transferware pattern that is most commonly seen in blue, but it has been made in a variety of other colors including red (often referred to as 'pink'), green, brown, black, mulberry, polychrome and more.

Willow was first introduced as a dinnerware pattern by Thomas Turner in Caughley, England, circa 1780. The popularity of the pattern grew, and it was subsequently made by several different Staffordshire potters.

It remains a popular pattern to this day, and it has been copied and produced by many companies from many countries. Some of the most productive manufacturers were in England, the United States, and Japan.

Each manufacturer made their own subtle changes to the design, but it will always have certain components. These include a palatial Chinese home, a bridge with 3 or more people crossing, an island, willow trees and 2 doves. The most commonly changed element is the design on the rim.

The pattern details the story of two young lovers who ran from the woman's wealthy father so they could have a life together.

Although betrothed to a wealthy man, the young woman wanted to marry her true love. 

To escape, they crossed the bridge and sailed to a small island where they lived and prospered, until their whereabouts were discovered. 

They died when their home was attacked, and the Gods turned them into immortal doves, to remain together in death as in life.

Due to the centuries of popularity of this pattern, there are many ways it can be collected, which adds to the fun!

Blue Willow Gravy or Sauce Boat
Subcategories can include collecting by color, age, or by manufacturer and/or country of origin.

The range of products available over the years is staggering. In addition to dinnerware, one can find glassware, cookware, flatware, fabric, wallpaper, etc. The variety of items in the dinnerware category alone is astounding, including cruets, cheese dishes, tidbit servers, tureens, napkin rings, egg coddlers, candleholders etc. The list is far too comprehensive for this forum!

I hope you've found this blog informative, and I invite you to see the selection of Willow dinnerware we're offering in our shop!

About the Author

Anita is an active member of Got Vintage Shops. Please visit her store Cousins Antiques on Ruby Lane where she "is pleased to help you find the treasure that speaks to you!"

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Vintage Shoes

  How to Get a Good Fit When Vintage Shoe Shopping

What gal doesn't love shoes? 

When you discover the endless and unique designs in vintage footwear you might be surprised! 

But getting a good fit is very important. 
We all know that just because a shoe is labeled a certain size it still might not fit us when the package arrives on our doorstep. 

But what about vintage shoes that have no size marked at all? 
    Even trickier?    

                      Not at all! 

                               Just follow these easy measuring tips.

  • Find a pair of shoes that you already own and that fit you well ...try and find a pair in a similar style to what you’re looking to purchase.

  • Using a soft, flexible, cloth tape measure; measure the INSIDE of the shoe heel to toe, keeping the tape measure flat against the insole hugging the arch. This is your length. 
  • Do the same at the widest point at the ball of the foot INSIDE the shoe and this is your width. 

When shopping online for vintage shoes most sellers know the basic shoe fit guidelines and will provide these basic measurements for the buyer. But be sure to ask if the measurements given were taken on the inside of the shoe, not the outside! Then just compare the measurements... 

Knowing your “vintage” size will insure you get a great fit every time! 

 About the Author

Jolene Bramer is a member of Got Vintage Shops. Please visit her shop Intrigue You Forever on Etsy and also check out her listings on Ebay under her seller name intrigueu4ever.