The Joy of Depression Glass

In honor of the upcoming St. Paddy’s Day, I thought we’d get into the spirit with the sharin’ o’ the green...

And it don’t get much greener than Depression glass!

Like so many other items of the time period, Depression glass was used as premiums-- giveaway items for attending the movies, shopping at certain stores, etc. It was also available at the five-and-dime. I understand it came mainly in green, pink, amber, yellow, white, clear and blue. But the green and pink are what people generally think of when they think of Depression glass.

Now, I’m certainly no expert on Depression glass-- there are tons of folks out there with volumes of knowledge on the makers, the marks, the patterns and so much more. At the end of this little article, you’ll find links to some good sites that should be able to help you, if you need more information or are looking to track down a certain pattern. It wouldn’t be fair to you if I even tried to duplicate their great efforts here.

What I WOULD like to tell you is that it’s possible to find pieces of Depression glass at thrift stores. Now a few weeks ago, I had a pretty amazing score-- I stumbled on a pink 16 piece set at the Salvation Army, for just $1.99 a piece! But admittedly, that was a rare thrift-shopping Zen moment; most often, I find rogue pieces of Depression glass. A bowl here. A cup there.

And the fun thing about that is, if you’re not interested in having a set instantly, and you’re willing to wait and build your collection, you really can get some nice pieces over time. Like vintage china, Depression Glass of different types does seem to have more impact together-- even if it’s not the same pattern. Some of it tends to be more streamlined and art deco, and some of it is more floral and cottagey, but it all really can work.

I’m finding lately how well the green matches to the “apple green” appliances and other kitchen items being produced by companies like Hamilton Beach and Kitchenaid. (And my nifty Target green spatulas at left!)

What I also wanted to make sure to tell you involves a wee story. I was at an antique mall recently and I happened to spy a bit of’ green glass that looked VERY FAMILIAR. It was my Martha Stewart Living cold beverage glasses, circa- oh, say, 1999, which I bought for about $8.00 for four and I use every day. (Second shelf from bottom in center-- also first photo, upper left). Well, I picked up one of those antique store glasses and saw the MSL stamp on the bottom-- sure enough, it was Martha. But the tag on them called them green Depression glass and the price suggested the vendor either genuinely thought they were antique, or sure as heck wanted people to think they were. They’re nice glasses and I do like them (cheers, Martha!), but antiques? Um, not so much.

So for someone looking to start a Depression glass collection, like any other collection, I’d suggest doing a little research first. Also, it helps to really know what you like best, and if you don’t have a good handle on current values, then make sure you don’t pay much for your purchase. My rule of thumb is that if I can buy an equivalent item new at a particular store, then I probably won’t make the purchase in resale, unless I’m really sure of its value.

There are a ton of reference books out there on Depression glass. The book I have is “The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Depression Glass,” by Gene Florence. It’s pretty comprehensive and shows the wide range of glass styles you might not even realize are a part of the Depression glass category.

And the following sites offer some credible information on collecting Depression glass. I tried to make sure these weren’t sites affiliated specifically with a sales group/vendor. There are a lot of sites out there like that, and while they might have some decent information, I didn’t really want you folks to have to weed through their sales pitches. (I haven’t bought from any online, so I don’t feel comfortable recommending any one specific to you.) Anyway, here ya go:
  1. National Depression Glass Association article on Patterns Important to the History of Depression Glass
  2. National Depression Glass Society main articles section
  3.'s A Closer Look at Depression Glass
  4. Wikipedia: Depression Glass

And next week? We’ll have the results of the $10 Thrifting Challenge! (Remember, anyone who’s decided to take the challenge, too, please submit whatever info, pics, stories, etc., you’d like to share to me by Saturday, March 17, so I have time to include it here. Thanks much!)

I hope you’ll stop by!


Anonymous said...

Hi. I found a green glass footed candy bowl, I think depression glass, at Goodwill today for 2 dollars. It had some layers of dirt on it but it has cleaned up nicely. I was pleased to make this find. I found two of them selling on E-Bay for 15.99-17.99 -- CMS

Anonymous said...

Go to shows and do your research. Lots of old molds being used for new glassware. Nothing wrong with new as long as you don't pay the price for old. If you see a lot of something look carefully. Depression glass doesn't usually come in large quantity finds. Some of the new colors are really close to the old so keep a keen eye and enjoy. I have been a collector for 50 years and still get excited with a new find. kg