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Sandy Erdman: See spring through green glassware

March 11, 2019

My obsession with green and even pink Depression glassware probably goes back to my grandmother, who had various pieces in different colors and a complete set of crystal of what I (age 5) called bubble dishes.And yes, I did find that is what the design is called: “Bubble” by Hocking Glass, what later became Anchor Hocking Glass Corp. in 1937.

In décor magazines, sophisticated blogs and home designer cable shows, this green Depression ware that I once called flea-market style, French antique and “Shabby Chic” is making a comeback as a trendy item in farmhouse and cottage décor, along with vintage tea towels and crocheted potholders.

Colors like pink and green Depression glassware were first designed to cheer the homemaker during hard times, so it was mass-produced, making this dishware very inexpensive. So, for just $1.99, a glassware luncheon set could be purchased at Sears and Roebuck or at F.W. Woolworth. In addition, glass dinnerware in favorite patterns were being packed in boxes of soap or given premiums at “dish night” at the local movie theater.

Ellen T. Schroy, author of “Warman’s Depression Glass Handbook,” writes, “Collectors call this dishware Depression glassware, but actually manufacturers such as U.S. Glass, Hazel Atlas and Federal established their business long before the Depression era. The ware was being made at a fraction of what cut glass or lead crystal cost, and soon patterns came out that included floral, geometric and those that went back to early American patterns. As the ware became more elegant, most were being sold at larger department stores such as Macy’s and more.”

Where to find it

Today, the colored Depression glass that you find in thrift shops, antique malls and auctions usually comes from somebody’s collection, and people just love it. Folks are finding it looks clean and bright in kitchens and homes today, but they also love the colors and the intricacy of the pressed-glass patterns.

Sarah Kieffer, of Sarah’s Uniques and Jim’s “Man”tiques, St. Charles, has Depression glassware to sell. “Mostly green,” she said. “This is such a good time of year for green Depression. It works well for St. Patrick’s Day, and flows nicely right into the Easter season. I have a variety of green Depression glass, from very old Depression to a bit newer. Green Depression has gone down in value, but to a collector, they will still pay for a good piece to add to their collection. Pieces seem to range in price from about $5 to around $25, depending on the piece, the size, and the rarity of it.”

Paul Larsen, of Mantorville Square, Mantorville said, “We have a few pieces, ‘Fruits’ pattern cups, saucers and plates, Hazel Atlas Glass, 1930s; ‘Cameo’ or ‘Ballerina’ pattern, Hocking Glass Company, 1930s and a set of four nesting bowls, Hazel Atlas Glass Company. Most green Depression glass is now very affordable. Our prices as all, varies according to pattern and rarity of individual pieces.”

Brenda Jannsen, of Treasures Under Sugar Loaf, Winona, said, “Indiana glass and green Depression glass, with pieces ranging from $3 sherbets to a $49 beater jar can be found within the booth of Steve George. We also have pieces to offer in pink.”

Deb Schreck, of Lakeside Antiques, Lake City: “I have just a few green Depression pieces, selling in the range of $10 to $20. I’m not seeing much demand for any color of Depression glass right now. Keep in mind that we do still have the Antique Shopper, but it is closed until spring, but we can get you in there Thursday through Sunday. Just stop by Lakeside Antiques and ask.”

Ann Collins, of Churn Dash, Rochester: “We have forest-green colored Depression glassware in the sandwich pattern, and plain — mostly beverage ware. Prices range from $4 on up.”

Bernie Dyreson, of the Old Rooster, Rochester: “I have Depression glassware pieces, ‘Raindrops’ cup and saucer, Federal Glass, 1929-1933; ‘Florentine’ sherbet, Hazel Atlas Glass, 1929-1935 and ‘Cameo’ pattern, Hocking Glass Co. 1930-34. Also ‘Forest Green,’ Anchor Hocking Glass Co., 1950-1957.”

Joanne Kjome, of Treasures On Main, LaCrosse and Westby, Wisconsin stores: “We have a large and nice variety of green Depression glass in both stores, price range $5 to $20.”

Tips for collectors

If you are not a serious collector, there is nothing wrong with good quality reproductions, but knowing the proper name of a pattern is always the key to collecting, and most Depression glass is unmarked, so knowing the patterns is important.

Since this glassware was mass-produced, expect flaws, but carefully examine every piece that seems questionable and look for loss of details, poor impressions and a slight difference in sizes.

Condition is very important for collectible value and it’s not necessary to buy a chipped or cracked piece when there are so many good pieces on the market.