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For Beginners—Identifying and Using Your Glassware

by Barbara Hansen


Even if you are not a dedicated glass collector, you may have a few pieces of Depression glass or Elegant glassware that you inherited from family members.  Or you may have picked up a few pieces marked, “glass dish” at a thrift store or garage sale.  Oh, happy day!  If you don’t know the pattern or description of your pieces, a visit to the library may be a good start for identification.  Books that may be of help with identification are in the non-fiction section under Dewey Decimal System number 748.2.  Warman’s Depression Glass was the first book I used for identification and I was pleasantly surprised to know I already had quite a few pieces of Depression glass in my cupboards.  A whole new world may open up for you when you learn about the history of American glass production and that pieces you have seen throughout your life have manufacturer names and pattern names, not to mention pattern numbers.


Sometimes you may not be sure what to do with the glass you own.  If your pieces carry a high value you may want to display or store them in a safe place or even consider selling them.  If they can be lost without tears or replaced and you want to see them and handle them, then let the way you live now be your guide on how these pieces might be used in your home or office.

Duncan Miller Tear Drop.JPGI have a “pistachio dish,” see picture below.  Actually, I have several.  I originally I thought I had Duncan & Miller Glass Company, Tear Drop, two-part, two-handled relish dishes (7” d.), and thought I was pretty smart to use them for pistachios:  one side for whole pistachios and the other for the shells.  It works great and makes me enjoy eating pistachios even more than if they were in any old dish.  I have since measured them and discovered that they are 6” in diameter.  Guess what?  According to one source, they really are nut dishes!  I’m not nearly as clever as I thought!







Indiana Pebble Leaf Corn 2.JPGThe Indiana Glass Company made corn holders (9 7/8”) in the Pebble Leaf (aka Twiggy) pattern, but I don’t use them for corn.  I use them for pens and pencils in my nightstand drawer and in my top desk drawer.  Everything is contained in one place and looks nice. 










Many Pebble Leaf pieces are great for snacks.  I use the bread and butter plate (aka sherbet plate) (6 ½” d.) for a sliced apple or pear.  I like Indiana Pebble Leaf plate and nappy.JPGthe nappy dishes (4 ½” d.) for a mix of peanuts and raisins.  I really like the pattern and the way it reflects light.  I have put the larger pieces (8”-10” d.) on easels and placed them near lamps in my home and enjoy them as artwork.






Some of my Jeannette Glass Company National pieces are not used for their original purpose.  The open sugar (2 1/2” h.), creamer (2 7/8” h.) and lidded relish jar (4 5/8” h.) reside in my bathroom and are just right for holding Q-tips, cotton pads and flossing picks.  I do use the National nut dishes for their original purpose.  They hold one ounce of nuts (a single serving) and help you avoid overdoing it.



 Jeannette National 3.JPG



I keep glass coasters near the candles I use in my home; they work well for holding burnt matches.  I also use them for coasters.  An unidentified three-part relish dish serves me well in my office.  It holds paperclips, binder clips, and pushpins.  I get a lot more use out of it that way than as a relish dish.

I have more Anchor Hocking Bubble glass master berry bowls (8 ¾” d.) than I care to admit.  If the price is right I feel like I am rescuing them.  I like to cut up grapes into small bunches, put them in a berry bowl and store them in the refrigerator for easy access.  I also use the bowls for any whole fruit; such as, apples, pears or plums.  I do use the berry bowls as serving bowls too (they are sometimes identified this way). 


The “glass police” are not likely to visit your home or office—you can use your glass dishes for whatever functions make sense for your lifestyle.  Enjoy!


Recommended Reading


Caroline Clifton-Mogg. Decorating with China & Glass. New York: Bulfinch Press, 2004.

Gene and Cathy Florence. Elegant Glass of the Depression Era. Paducah, KY: Collector Books, 2007.

Mary Carol Garrity. Nell Hill’s Entertaining in Style. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2006.

Ellen T. Schroy. Warman’s Depression Glass. 3rd ed. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2003.


See the Replacements Ltd. Web site for more descriptions and pictures of:

·         Bubble

·         National

·         Pebble Leaf

·         Tear Drop