Everything You Need to Know about Depression Glass

Pink Depression GlassWith a name like Depression glass, it’s surprising that it is one of my happy things…you know, things that just make you smirk! It might be the memories of countless hours spent with my mom and sister in antique stores, or the pride of continuing my grandmother’s collection, or even the thrill of the hunt—whatever it is, I love collecting Depression glass.

What Is Depression Glass?

Many of you are probably wondering what Depression glass is. Depression glass is a type of dinnerware that was mass produced in the 1920’s and 1930’s. It often came with food, especially from the Quaker Oats Company. Remember how your mom got those glass animals with her Lipton Tea when you were a kid? Same idea. It even was given out at movie theaters and other businesses! It came in lots of great colors: green, red, black, amethyst, blue, yellow, clear, and pink (which is what I collect). The dinnerware ranged from tea cups and saucers to pitchers, salt shakers, cake plates, and everything in between. It also comes in lots of different patterns: Cherry Blossom, Dogwood, Princess (shown below), and Sunflower, just to name a few.

Blue Depression Glass

Why Collect It?

Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t understand why I love to collect it—I just do! I think it’s important to preserve this piece of history, and I think there is something beautiful and timeless about it. I also love that I get to be a part of something that my grandmother started. She’s been collecting for lots of years, and now it’s my turn to continue that collection. Plus, it’s so much fun to be on the hunt, especially when your friends and family can join in the hunt with you!

Pink Depression Glass

If that’s not enough for you, I’d venture to say that it might be a good (and fun) investment. Steven and I found a Depression glass candy dish the other day for $25 at a little hole-in-the-wall art store. I excitedly went home and looked up what other people are selling it for and discovered that it’s going for $125 online! It might not be a huge profit someday, but it’s more valuable than buying something new off the shelf.

How Do I Know That It’s Real Depression Glass?

Companies started making reproductions in the 1960’s. The reproductions are very convincing, but there are a couple of ways to sniff out impostors. There’s nothing like inspecting a piece of glass that says “Depression glass” on it, putting it down, and whispering it’s a fake to your shopping buddy. I feel like a pro every time. So, here’s a few tips that will help you tell the difference between the real and the not-so-real:

1. Look for flaws. Yep, that’s right, you want the pieces that aren’t perfect. There are 3(ish) tell-tale signs that your depression glass is real:

Signs of Authentic Depression Glass

Bonus points if you find scratches! Depression glass was used for everyday tasks and was prone to scratching, so scratches are likely due to the delicate nature of real Depression glass.

2. Check the thickness. Reproduction glass is very thick compared to the original. Though the originals vary from piece to piece, if the glass feels thick, it’s likely not real.

3. Learn the patterns. The new versions of the old patterns are fairly convincing, but there are some great resources, like realorrepro.com, that cover each and every difference.

Yellow Depression Glass Plate

How Do I Start?

I hope I’m inspiring you to start collecting! I’d love to get you started with some tips!

Depression Glass Pattern

  1. Find a color that you love!
  2. Find 1–3 patterns that you adore. I found a great website that shows you all of the patterns manufactured. Click here to check it out.
  3. Learn your stuff. There are real and fake pieces, as I just mentioned. Make sure you know what you’re looking for! This makes the treasure hunt all the more fun!
  4. Get out there! I’ve found that the best places to shop are where they don’t know what they have. As I mentioned before, my most recent addition came from a random art/frame store…the seller had no idea what treasure he had (or what he could have charged)! Flea markets are another gold mine!

I hope you have enjoyed hearing about this passion of mine! I also hope that you’ll join me in collecting what makes you happy. I’d love to hear about what you love to collect in the comments below or leave me a picture on my Facebook page.

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Thank you to Live To Love Photography for the gorgeous images of your Depression glass collection!

13 Comments

  1. I have a set of pink depression glass. My father collected it while courting my mother. We are down sizing and want to get rid of it. Can you tell me what it may pe worth? There are 51 pieces of cabbage Sharon rose . 8 plates, 8cups&sausers, desert boles Herbert cups and saucers. Sugar bowl creamer veg plate and meat plater.

  2. I have a white (milk) glass rolling pin that has a seam running down the two sides of the roller. There are no bubbles that I can see in the glass, except for some tiny blurbs and pitting on the surface, which can be from repeated use. I see some of the straw lines you mentioned. The handles have some patina and are metal (not sure what kind of metal but it is, but it’s non-conductive…aluminum?). The handles unscrew so that cold water or ice can be added. I have searched and searched for one just like this, but can’t find a match. Most antique white glass rolling pins have wood handles. Have you come across white depression glass rolling pins with metal handles? This one has all the characteristics of depression glass but I don’t want to assume that it is, mostly b/c I have not found another one like it. thanks for your help

  3. I have a large pink vase no design just frosted around the neck
    the whole vase is 15″ darker clear pink rounded bottom very little flare at top almost like an hour glass cant find anything about it any where thought it may be a Fenton but not sure can you help me figure it out and if it is a valuable piece or not It was my husbands grandmothers who passed away she is related to king Edwards and to my surprise it states that on her death and birth certificate she has had the dishes since the 30’s I think maybe longer she was born in 1910 so it could have been even in the 20’s they first lived in Detroit before they came to california

    • Hi Alice,

      It sounds like a beautiful piece you have! Unfortunately, I am not very well versed in much other than Depression Glass. It doesn’t sound like depression glass to me because of the frosting and lack of design. But I would suggest having it appraised, since I’m certainly no expert. I’d love to hear what you come up with!

  4. I have recently received several light blue plates and a bowl with all of the classic examples of depression glass except the stray marks underneath . Do you know of a website were I could search for patterns to find out more about them?

  5. I have a set of 6 glasses and jug as well as a cake plate and fruit bowl they were my Moms she was sure they are the real thing is there away for me to tell and How do I find out the value of the said set

    • Hi Loretta,

      Those sound like really interesting pieces! You can read the post above to see how to tell if it’s the real thing. As far as value is concerned, I’d suggest having it appraised to be sure. You can get an idea of value on sites like replacements.com for perfect condition pieces, although it’s just a ballpark idea of what your piece would be worth at the most. Like I said, getting it appraised is the only sure-fire way to get the value.

      Thanks for your question and good luck!

  6. I have the complete set of harp depression glass cake set of 22 pieces of the cake. set I have had fun collecting it and feel excited when I come across a piece. I love collecting it and it gives me great joy.

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