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Depression Glass Companies
Just before the advent of the Great Depression, more than a hundred companies manufactured glassware in the United States. At the end of the Depression, fewer than fifty percent of these companies remained in business. Of these companies, seven became major players in the production of Depression glass, and these seven companies utilized a little more than 90 patterns to decorate their wares. Indiana Glass, Hocking, Federal, U.S. Glass, Jeanette Glass, MacBeth-Evans, and Hazel-Atlas manufactured hundreds of thousands of pieces of this popular and inexpensive glass, creating a bright spot in the lives of everyday, working-class people during a grim epoch of American history.
Before Depression glass came along, colored and patterned glass existed, but only for the wealthy. Because the beautifully hued and intricately designed glassware of the times was hand-blown, and the cost of manufacturing such pieces proved prohibitive for most people, this type of glass was simply out of reach for many households. However, with the invention of mass-produced, machine-pressed glassware that produced colors and patterns - albeit ridden with flaws such as air bubbles and mold marks - a new versatility in glassware could be made available to households all over America. Because of this, even the poorest families could now have cheerful pieces from which to serve their meals, hold sugar, salt, pepper, and other condiments, contain candy, and more - even to shake their martinis, if they could scrape up the money for the bathtub-made gin!
Adam, Cherry Blossom, Iris and Herringbone, Sierra (Pinwheel), and Windsor make up some of the most popular and now-sought-after patterns produced by the Jeanette Glass Company from 1928 through the 1970s. From 1932 to 1942, Federal created such designs as the Sharon (Cabbage Rose), Rosemary (Dutch Rose), Madrid, and Columbia that fetch top-market prices today.
Anchor Hocking came into being when Anchor Cap and Closure merged with Hocking Glass in 1937, so when you see "Hocking" and "Anchor Hocking" you know you are looking at pre- and post-1937 pieces, respectively. Some of the patterns considered highly collectible today from Hocking include Coronation (banded rib), Fortune, Old Café, Princess, and Waterford. Anchor Hocking created such well-loved designs as the Manhattan (horizontal ribbed) design along with the Oyster and Pearl pattern.
Hazel-Atlas Glass Company introduced Florentine #2 (Poppy), Hairpin (Newport) and Moderntone, while MacBeth Evans brought American Sweetheart and Petalware onto the market.
These patterns touch on only a few of the most popular and sought after patterns that today's collectors seek - many more exist from these and other glass manufacturers to entice and fascinate avid Depression glass aficionados the world over.
Many of the glass companies - at least those that survived the Great Depression - maintain museums in which interested parties can learn much more about Depression glass and the businesses that supplied it. Credit must be given to these glass manufacturers for providing something simple and low-priced yet delightfully appealing to a grateful public at a time when such items were few and far between.
So when you admire a piece of Depression glass, there's a good chance that very same piece may have uplifted a family in what was an otherwise bleak time. And now you'll know when you see this prettily colored or clear and patterned glass, that it's much more than "just another pretty face!"
Until next time,
If you enjoyed this article by Murray Hughes, then visit Depression Glass History now and enroll in the free Depression Glass course "The 5 Essential Steps To Becoming A Depression Glass Collector". For AOL Users: Depression Glass Companies
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