Vintage Millersburg Carnival glass
Vintage Millersburg Carnival glass is iridescent glassware produced by the American company the Millersburg Glass Company, from 1909 to 1911.
The Millersburg Glass company was established in 1909 by John W. Fenton, President of Fenton Art Glass which had first produced carnival glass in 1907. After running the successful company with his brother Frank, John Fenton decided to create his own company and built a state-of-the-art factory in the town of Millersburg, Ohio.
The company produced crystal and iridescent carnival glass for several months, before developing a new technique which produced a high-gloss finish known as ‘radium’. The radium style became highly popular, and in part led to the company ordering large numbers of glass moulds on credit to keep up with the demand.
Despite attracting a number of investors, John Fenton’s flamboyant lifestyle and generosity led the company into financial trouble. Although the company was recognized for the high quality of its products, its sales could not keep up with its outlay. Creditors including the glass mould company demanded their money, and the company filed for bankruptcy in June 1911. It ceased production and was sold later that year.
Millersburg carnival glass patterns
The company produced a large number of patterns, with several colours used for each pattern. These patterns were then used for a wide variety of items such as plates, bowls, tumblers, pitchers, stem glasses and punch bowls.
Some of the most common patterns from this period include:
- Acorn – featuring a pattern of oak leaves and acorns, available in amethyst, green, and marigold.
- Big Fish – featuring the image of a large swimming trout, available in amethyst, green, and marigold.
- Blackberry Wreath – featuring a pattern of five blackberries on a wreath of leaves, available in amethyst, green, marigold, and blue.
- Boutonierre – featuring the pattern of a flower with five petals, surrounded by embossed rays, available in amethyst, green and marigold.
- Cherries - featuring a pattern of cherry springs arranged in a circle, available in green, marigold, amethyst and blue.
- Diamonds – featuring a pattern of large diamonds, available in amethyst, marigold, green and teal.
- Feather and Heart – featuring a pattern of feathers and upside down hearts, available in amethyst, green, and marigold.
- Fleur de Lis – featuring a pattern of flowers with four petals, surrounded by four other flowers combined with fleur de lis, available in amethyst, green, and marigold.
- Grape Leaves – featuring a pattern of a single bunch of grapes surrounded by four others, available in green, amethyst, and marigold.
- Hobnail – featuring a pattern of raised hobnail protrusions, available in amethyst, blue, green and marigold.
- Mayan – featuring a pattern of six large plumes surrounding a central disc, available in green and olive green.
- Morning Glory – featuring a pattern of morning glories on a vine, available in amethyst and marigold.
- Seaweed – featuring a pattern of spirals surrounded by seaweed wreaths, available in amethyst, blue, aqua, green, and marigold.
Collecting Millersburg carnival glass
Millersburg carnival glass is highly popular with collectors for two reasons – the pieces are of an exceptional quality, and were only produced for two short years between 1909 and 1911. Within these two years, however, the company produced a wide range of items in a large number of patterns and colour variations.
One of the most important factors for collectors is that none of the Millersburg patterns have ever been reproduced by modern companies, meaning that every piece can be easily verified as authentic.
Because of the huge variety of items, patterns and colours the value of vintage Millersburg carnival glass can vary greatly. Common items such as tumblers can be relatively inexpensive, and sell for less than $50. However, rare pieces can reach tens of thousands of dollars depending on condition. Some items are so sought after that collectors will buy pieces with small chips and scratches, although mint-condition items are still the most valuable.
The most sought after colour for Millersburg carnival glass is blue, as it was produced in the smallest quantities. The most expensive piece of Millersburg glass ever sold is a blue version of the ‘People’s Vase’, of which only 8 – 10 examples exist. It features a pattern of dancing figures, and was sold to a collector during an auction in 2006 for a record price of $100,000.
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