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Article: Thoughts on Glass and Pottery

by Mark Evans


The popularity of Depression Glass and dinnerware is greater than ever.  Its great variety of shapes, forms, and colors are what is valued by collectors and what is leading to a revival in interest in this topic.  Many people are returning to the past for the elegance and refreshing look that glass and pottery from this era can add to their home.  They can be found in kitchen cabinets, on mantels, and in curio cabinets, adding new dimensions and warmth to home decorating.  In addition, with the rising popularity of collectables of any kind, a facet that has proved to be fascinating as well as a good financial investment is American-made glass and pottery collecting.


Depression Glass refers to a period from the 1920s to 1940s when manufacturers such as Indiana Glass, Hocking, Jeanette, and more mass produced inexpensive glassware for the thrifty homemaker.  Depression Glass made its way into the American home through local dime stores and through premiums—sellers or manufacturers would offer a gift with the purchase of a certain dollar amount of goods or specific product.


Elegant Glass refers to a period from the 1900s to the 1980s (the vast majority of American Glass companies closed during the 1970s and 1980s) when manufacturers such as Imperial, Cambridge, Morgantown, and more produced some of the world's most stylish tableware.  Elegant glass was made for the growing middle and upper classes in America.  Many of the earlier styles reflect the opulence and overindulgence of the Gilded years.  It wasn't until the change in American eating habits that many of these companies turned their focus to more casual dinnerware, producing some of the most interesting and fun pieces ever produced.  Today many of these companies' works are highly prized not only by collectors but by designers to add that additional zing to their work.


Pottery refers to the period from the 1900s to the 1980s when manufacturers such as Red Wing, Franciscan, McCoy, California Pottery, and more produced dinnerware and decorative pieces for the American and International markets.  Many of these were meticulously hand painted, which adds a touch of uniqueness to each piece.


Collecting American-made glass and pottery is a fun exciting area of collectibles.  Hunting antique malls and stores, auctions, eBay, your mother's or grandmother's cabinets and glass shows lets you find those last stray pieces of a beloved collection or the start of a new collection.  It is fun to learn about an American industry that was a leader in the world in quality and craftsmanship (that virtually no longer exists today) in the United States.  Viewing a piece of American history that reflects changes in culture and how it impacted various different aspects of everyday life is fascinating!  The unique bond among fellow pottery and glass collectors leads to lifelong friends and fellowship; being part of this group of collectors is the only way one can truly appreciate its strength and warmth.