What Is Depression Glass?

Depression Glass Identification

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If you're a glassware afficionado, you've probably heard mention of depression era glassware before. It was a unique type of glass made in the years of the Great Depression. But what is depression glass, and what makes it so special? It was a very distinct style of design and production, and it can still be found today. In fact, many people collect the various lines, and a complete collection can be pretty sought after. 

This article will answer the question 'what is depression glass', and we'll look at the various factors that make up this style of glassware. We'll talk about the history of these products and the factors determining their production, and we'll mention some famous depression glass patterns. We'll talk about depression glass identification, so you'll know if you run across it in an antique store. 

Let's begin!

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What Is Depression Glass?

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This style was unique to the era, and a product of the hard times. During the Great Depression, glass was one of the few easy to manufacture and inexpensive to produce items in the United States economy. This meant that simple, attractive glassware could be produced cheaply enough to be used as incentives for the purchase of other products. In effect, depression glass patterns were popularized and distributed en masse because they were free (or nearly free)

So a simple answer to the question 'what is depression glass' is to say it's a promotional product, or at least it was at the time. Businesses would hand pieces out as a reward for another purchase. Some places would give the pieces away simply for walking into the store. In a time of tight finances, this was a way to ensure that people would continue to come in and buy. The incentive was there to complete a given set, so it could ensure repeat customers. 

Depression glass identification is done by the companies involved, but it's possible to trace the pieces to the various retailers that would give them away with a purchase. The most popular colors were simple green, clear translucent, yellow and blue. The depression glass patterns were never overly complex, reflecting the inexpensive production. Nonetheless, they were well made and attractive. 

Collector's Encyclopedia of Depression Glass, 19th Edition
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Depression Glass Patterns and Identification

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You can identify depression glass patterns by careful observation. If you're hunting around for this kind of glassware, it should be mentioned that these pieces are rare and difficult to obtain due to the number of collectors out there. It's definitely worth your while to learn about depression class identification so you can snatch up any authentic pieces you find!

You can identify depression glass patterns by noticing their color and patterns. Simple colors in translucent glass were the mainstay of this style. Cobalt blue and light pink are popular colors with collectors today. 

The pieces often had a geometric or art deco pattern to them, with repeating patterns and star or sunburst designs on the bases.

Many of the manufacturers would label their pieces with a simple stamp of their name on the bottom of the piece. Check for this and do your research into popular brands from the era in order to ensure authenticity. There are reproductions these days, so be cautious. You can find information on reproductions in such works as the Collector's Encyclopedia of Depression Glass, as well as a variety of online publications.

Depression Glass Patterns:

Popular Styles

There are a few favorite styles with depression glass pattern collectors out there. These pieces are just a little more sought after and the accompanying value is that much higher. 

Cameo - Hocking Glass Company

Cameo is a popular style of depression glass patterns that always features the impression of a dancing girl, or ballerina, in the center of a complex pattern, sometimes surrounded by a laurel wreath or greenery. This impression is quite delicate and gives a sense of elegance and high quality craftsmanship.

Cherry Blossom - Jeannette Glass Company

This type of depression glass pattern is just like it sounds, featuring extensive use of a cherry blossom pattern throughout the piece. Pink and green are the most popular colors for these pieces, and reproductions can still be found today. 

Georgian - Federal Glass Company

This elegant depression glass pattern is very unique looking, with an almost Grecian look to the pieces. It's also known as the 'lovebird' pattern, because it always utilizes impressions of two birds facing one another in the design. 

Iris and Herringbone - Jeannette Glass Company

The Jeannette Glass Company produced this classic style of depression glassware, and it's still extremely sought after today. Featuring several irises surrounded by a geometric herringbone pattern, this is a classy looking piece of glassware. Learn more about Iris and Herringbone depression glass.

Lots More

Depression Glass Identification

There are hundreds of other styles of depression glass patterns. Keep your eyes open and you'll find something pretty special!

Good luck!