Depression Glassware doesn’t sound very enticing, but it is actually quite lovely. It came about during our country’s Great Depression. A loaf of bread cost about a nickel, and so did a simple pressed glass dish from the five and dime store. That little dish brought some color into an otherwise bleak time period for our country.
Over a hundred patterns of Depression Glassware were manufactured in the U.S. by approximately 20 companies and distributed across the United States and Canada during the 1920’s thru the 40’s. The most prevalent colors were light to medium green, pink, amber, along with clear glass. Fewer pieces were made in amethyst, true canary yellow, cobalt blue, opaque black, jadeite, white milk glass, and red. With pattern names like Patrician, Old Colony, Holiday, Queen Mary, Royal Lace, Princess, and Cherry Blossom, the lady of the house could add a bit of elegance to her table for little to no expense.
Food companies would give away pieces as premiums inside their product’s box. When you filled up your car, gas stations would give you a different piece of a collection each month. If you spent a certain amount in the grocery store you could “earn” a new piece for your dining table each week. Some companies gave away pieces of Depression Glassware if you just came into their place of business. Fairs used the glassware as prizes for their games. Toss the penny in the dish and it would be yours.
This glassware was not expensive to manufacture. There were flaws in the glass, obvious seams, etc., but getting something for free in such a desperate time was uplifting. The glass brought color into the home, elevated spirits, and was considered a “prize”.
Since the 1960’s people have been collecting Depression Glassware. While some pieces can still be had for a few dollars at yard sales and antique malls, rarer patterns and colors can command prices in the hundred’s. Before the creation of online shopping with sources like eBay, collectors had to travel and network among themselves in order to find pieces to complete their collections. Today you can find a plethora of depression glassware on the internet. But watch out, a number of different companies are reproducing the old patterns and it is becoming harder and harder to determine was is real depression glassware and what is a reproduction.
The National Depression Glassware Association http://www.ndga.net/index.php is a great source of information. On their website you can find out when and where the next show and sale of Depression Glassware is to take place, purchase books concerning the glassware, meet collectors and exchange information, and learn all about the different patterns and manufacturers of the glass.