Pink Depression-era glass especially popular with collectors
The circa 1880s 14K gold and gold quartz match safe sold for $6,250 this month at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. (Heritage Auctions / November 15, 2013)
A: The glass seen in images sent is pink Depression-era glass. Yes, it is collectible, and pink is a color favored by many collectors. Some call it the "classic" Depression-era glass (DEG) color.
A brief history lesson is in order. The name refers to mass-produced American glassware made during the 1920s-'30s. It was often free with a purchase of soap or another product or service; Jean Shepherd fans will remember references to dish night at the movie theater. Often poor quality, the glass was made in such huge numbers that a lot survives.
Better known original makers included the Imperial, Jeannette, Anchor Hocking, Indiana, McKee, U.S. Glass, Hazel-Atlas, and New Martinsville Glass Companies. Today's collector must be wary, as popular patterns have been reproduced or faked.
One could buy the glass for literally pennies at dime stores such as Woolworth's. Pieces for tableware to stemware, bed, bath and kitchen items -- you name it, were made in a variety of pastel colors and some solid darks.
The key to identifying makers is pattern. Color is another clue.
Readers looking to find a DEG pattern should check their local library for a visual guide to the glass. Many books exist, most with liberal color photos. Key the National Depression Glass Association, http://www.ndga.net, for a local chapter (perhaps someone can help with ID) and to see samples. For a random search, Google Depression glass and a color; see what comes up.
Images of the reader's glass include a long-neck pitcher with a lid and Michelin man circles on the body. Most DEG pitchers were squat and lidless.
The lid and tall neck told us that the pitcher belonged to a lemonade or water set. As such, it no doubt originally sold with four tumblers or tall iced tea glasses.
Voila! Mystery solved. The pitcher checked out as made by the Dunbar Flint Glass Co. in Dunbar, W. Va., probably in the late 1920s when their specialty was refreshment sets in pink and green. As far as we know, the sets have not been reproduced.
On http://www.worthpoint.com, we saw that a similar pitcher with lid sold on eBay for $26. One with no lid but four tumblers brought $59.99 there recently; one with a green handle but no lid sold for $39.53.
The stemware does not go with the pitcher. Images were too poor to make out any pattern, but we think the glasses are generic and not considered collectible today except for color.
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AUCTION ACTION: A 14K gold and gold quartz match safe only 2.25 in. high brought $6,250 this month at Heritage Auctions. Dating from the days before safety matches, safes kept a gentleman's matches dry.
Made by Shreve and Co. in San Francisco, Calif., around 1880, the safe has panels of gold in quartz. As a piece, it captures the romance of California and the Gold Rush. Note the loop for hanging on a watch chain. Quality safes and early smoking accessories are highly collectible.
Q: Today's question is a two-parter.
1. Where was most DEG made?
2. What is elegant glass, sometimes confused with DEG?
A: Almost all DEG was made in the Midwest, with many factories along the Ohio River. Elegant glass is a later (1920s-'50s) category of better made glass produced by companies such as Cambridge, Heisey, Fostoria and Tiffin.
(Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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