I’m pretty much sure that most of you inherited at least one cookie tray or any other item made from depression glass. The thing is that this material was wildly popular during the Depression Era (from the 1930s until the 1940s), considering it was very cheap.
However, no matter how cheap and low-quality this material was, a lot of manufacturers used it to mold beautiful pieces, such as vases, plates, bowls, cups, entire dinner sets, etc.
During this period, World War 2 was raging across the globe people were poor, gloomy, and unoptimistic. These colorful items were distributed for free or sold for low prices (some rare items) to brighten their days and lift their spirits.
Nowadays, these decorations are very popular collectibles and reminders of an era we all hope won’t happen again. If you are a new or potential depression glass collector and you still don’t know your way around this area, you’ll love this article! For the next few pages, we will talk about the rare most valuable depression glass patterns and how much they will cost you.
Get cozy, grab your cup of coffee and let’s start!
Brief Narration About Depression Glass Genesis
As I mentioned depression glass originate from the era of the Great Depression, a time when millions of people in the US lost their job and over 40% of their income. Very soon after that WW 2 began to spread globally, and an ordinary day life became a luxury no one could afford.
A lot of companies that manufactured food utensils (plates, cups, glasses, and so on) suffered great economic losses. People were too poor to even buy food. That is why food companies partnered up with them. Their strategy was to sell food products boxed up with some of the glassware to encourage people to spend more money while actually saving up. It worked!
This type of collaboration soon became normal. Cinemas and theaters gifted visitors with small vases, cookie trays, and perfume bottles for every sold ticket. This “you need to give a little to get a little” strategy is what prevented even bigger crashes in the US economy.
Let’s find out what is depression glass and how was it made
Depression Glass is regular glass, but lower in quality since manufacturers didn’t have enough money to pay larger numbers of workers.
This glass was made from sand, limestone, and soda ash. Also, broken glass was recycled and used to make depression glass. These components were melted at extremely high temperatures until the mass becomes shiny and transparent glass.
There are a few characteristics of Depression Glass:
- Flaws – things like air bubbles and large mold marks, and other flaws in the glass;
- Bold colors – blue, green, pink, yellow, amber, cobalt, custard, amethyst (violet), jadeite (light green), delphite (light blue), black, milk white, red, and uranium colors (glows under the UV light);
- Patterns – items made from Depression Glass always featured some special pattern, we will talk about them in the following heading.
List Of Rare Most Valuable Depression Glass Patterns
The thing is that there are over a hundred different depression glass patterns. This is quite normal considering that twenty glass companies were producing it for over 20 years. However, only a few of them became very popular and desirable.
Here comes the list of the rarest and most valuable depression glass patterns. There is one more thing I need to say before we start. Some items made from depression glass are valuable because of the rare pattern. While others feature not-so-rare patterns, however, the color is what drives the worth.
Now let’s see what we can find on the market.
1. Iris and herringbone pattern
This pattern is one of the hardest ones to find nowadays. It’s the work of the Jeanette Glass company in the period from 1928 until the 1940s. The Iris and herringbone pattern is considered to be one of the most beautiful. Items like giftware sets, wine glasses, goblets, and serving trays and bowls were made with this pattern.
The company usually used transparent, green, or pink colors for its items. The most valuable product that carries this pattern is:
XL Vintage Pastel Peach Orange Iris and Herringbone Floral Depression Glass Vase
- Year: 1940
- Price: $228
Manufactured in 1940. The 9-inch tall vase has a wide foot and is pretty heavy around 1 kg. You can find this vase in other colors as well, but they aren’t so valuable. This particular piece cost this much because of a combination of rare colors and patterns. The price varies on the condition and seller.
2. Royal Lace pattern
Royal Lace is very popular among collectors, and it is one of the desired and rare patterns. It is a product of the Hazel-Atlas company, and it was manufactured in the period from 1930 until 1941. The pattern can be found in crystal, pink and green colors. However, the rarest one is cobalt blue which was produced only for five years, these items are very valuable today.
This pretty pattern features details like roses and lace that create a very gentle and elegant look.
Vintage Green Royal Lace Depression Glass Water Pitcher
- Year: 1930s
- Price: $700
As you can see this is a large water pitcher that has a volume of 86oz. It also has an ice lip to prevent ice cubes from falling into your glass. On the surface, you will find large flower patterns framed with lace details.
3. Cameo pattern
This pattern was also called Balerina, and it originates from the 1930s. The Anchor Hocking Glass Company created this pattern which is mainly based on tiny pearls. Most glasses, plates, and cookie jars were made with this pattern.
You can find them in many colors, the light green is the most common, while pink, crystal, and yellow pieces are very rare. Some of the rarest items have a platinum rim.
Antique Yellow Cameo Ballerina Depression Glass Footed Tumblers
- Year: 1930s
- Price: $102
As I said most rare items are colored pink and yellow. You won’t find a lot of these items on the market nowadays. Of course, there are some other color variants available for purchase, for even higher prices than this set, but you need to take the size of the item into account as well.
You can find these tall light-yellow footed tumblers on Etsy and eBay. The difference in price is mostly because you get the full set on Etsy.
4. Doric and Pansy pattern
A lot of collectors didn’t know about Doric and Pansy’s pattern until recently. This pattern is manufactured from 1937 to 1938. The manufacturer was Jeanette Glass Company. Items with this pattern were mostly used as dinnerware.
Doric and Pansy pattern is available in light green, pink, and rarely in blue.
Vintage Jeanette Glass Child Tea Set Pretty Polly Doric & Pansy Ultramarine Teal
- Year: 1937
- Price: $335
If you are a passionate depression glass collector you are in for the treat! This complete set of 14 pieces comes in a very rare ultramarine teal color and is in great condition The set consists of four teacups, four saucers, four plates, and a sugar and creamer bowl’
5. Mayfair pattern
Mayfair pattern was produced by two large companies, Fostoria and Hocking in the early 1930s. The Hocking pattern is a bit more authentic and robust, Fostoria polished their items with more care making their product more elegant and valuable.
This pattern is also called Open Rose, and colors like pink and ice blue are used. Regardless of the name, this pattern consists of different types of flowers in it. You’ll find roses, sunflowers, marguerite, and many more.
Depression Glass Mayfair tea set in Ice Blue (hocking)
- Year: 1930s
- Price: $860
A great about this set is that it is complete. It holds 23 pieces of dinnerware in great condition. Anyhow, if you don’t want to purchase all of them (maybe you already own some pieces) you can buy any piece you like separately.
The price is for the full set, and the individual prices are listed in the ad. The highest price is for the cookie jar and you’ll need to fish out $250 for it.
6. Georgian pattern
The Georgian depression glass pattern is also known as Love Bird, and it was in production from 1931-1936. The Federal Glass company created this pattern. The items were mostly colored green, pink, crystal, and amber, but these last two variants are very rare.
Nowadays the most valuable items are glasses and cups since they were the most fragile.
Vintage Green Federal Glass-Georgian Love Bird pattern cups
- Year: 1931 -1936
- Price: $79
There is not much to say about this product. It is not known if this is a full set or not. If you look better you will notice a large basket with flowers on the front side of the cup. Also, the rim of the cup is decorated with a wide ribbon with flower heads printed on them.
7. American Sweetheart pattern
American Sweetheart is one of the most loved patterns. It is a product of Macbeth-Evans Glass in the period from 1930 until 1936. What is characteristic of items with this pattern printed is how thin and delicate they look, yet they are very durable. Logically, pink color was the number one choice for this design which includes delicate paisleys and curlicue patterns.
American Sweetheart is a pattern that was never distributed for free. Every piece with this pattern was bought, this is the main reason why the pattern is very valuable today. Items like soup bowls, saucers, pitchers, cups, glasses, and tumblers are made with this pattern.
American Sweetheart Pink Pitcher by MACBETH-EVANS
- Year: 1930 – 1936
- Price: $850
This 8-inches tall water pitcher probably has a volume of at least 80oz. It features a very interesting shape, considering how the top of the pitcher is shaped to retain the ice cubes when pouring the liquid. The overall design is simple, with a wide ribbed pattern in a light baby pink color, with a very shiny finish.
8. Princess pattern
What is characteristic of the Princess pattern is the square shape and scalloped edges. The pattern is created by Anchor Hocking Glass company and it was manufactured from 1931 until 1935. This was one of the first designed patterns.
All of their items are created with wide rims decorated with tassels, and scrolls. The middle part of the items is usually ribbed or feathery It often can be found with feathery. It is very valuable, often used for dinnerware, and available in pink, green, and rarely yellow and light blue.
Pink Princess depression glass butter dish
- Year: 1931 – 1935
- Price: $100
Depression Glass butter dishes are very rare, no matter the pattern, hence they are very valuable and highly sought after. The most valuable part of this butter depression glassware is the dome itself. It has a massive handle and it is decorated with delicate tulip flowers and leaves.
9. Cherry Blossom pattern
The name says it all, this pattern is based on cherry blossom details embossed in the glassware. You will find it mainly in pink color, however, this pattern was massively produced so you need to be very careful. The most plagiarized depression pattern is this one. It is also available in green light green, and light blue.
The manufacturer was Jeannette Glass, production started in 1930 and ended up in 1939.
Vintage Jeannette Glass “CHERRY BLOSSOM PINK” Dinner Plates Pink Depression Glass
- Year: 1930 – 1939
- Price: $175
On this link you can find a set of five dinner plates, one is mixing, so the price is reduced. The remaining five plates are in great condition, and as you can see they come in some odd dark pink color. The centerpiece as well as the rim is decorated with cherry blossoms and ribs. A large cherry flower is in the middle of the plate.
10. Aurora pattern
This is one of the youngest patterns, it is used for the first time in the late 1930s. The founder company was Hazel Atlass Glass. Aurora pattern is mainly produced in cobalt blue color. The design of this pattern was very straightforward – a vertically ribbed design.
This means that the pattern isn’t very popular and valuable, however, collectors that love the simplicity and color of the ocean will find it very appealing. Aurora pattern decorates a wide variety of dinnerware crafted by this company.
Cobalt Blue Depression Glass Cup, Saucer, Tumbler Aurora Hazel Atlas Co
- Year: 1937 – 1938
- Price: $55
If blue dinnerware is your thing then this super pretty set is just what you need. The set holds a large teacup with a saucer and a tumbler. All three parts are decorated with wide ribs. The set is in great condition, which is for you as a collector very important.
Identifying Real From Fake Depression Glass
I was surprised to find out that depression glass is one of the most plagiarized materials and items made from it. Luckily for you, differentiating the real depression glass from the fake one, isn’t so hard.
Here is the list of things you need to pay attention to when looking for vintage depressed glass items:
- Manufacturer – Only around twenty companies made original vintage depression glass. Some of them are Jeannette Glass, Hazel Atlas Glass Company, Belmont Tumbler, Anchor Hocking Glass Company, Federal Glass Company, Fostoria Glass Company, Indiana Glass Company, McBeth-Evans glass company, etc. A real vintage piece will have the stamp on the bottom;
- Flaws and imperfections – This might seem ridiculous, but depression items are never perfect. If there are no bubbles, straw marks, rings, inclusions, scratches, or any other fabric mistakes then you are holding a replica;
- Weight – Depression glass items are never too heavy. A large water pitcher will never go over 1kg in weight. If you hold it and it seems too heavy, check that out;
- Colors and patterns – You need to learn all about the patterns and in which color is available to be able to recognize fake from real ones. Also, an original pattern will always have a smooth finish.
Where Should You Look For Depression Glass Items?
Everything that falls under the category of vintage can be found in thrift shops, antique shops, antique shows, collector exhibitions, and live auctions. However, depression glass items aren’t so valuable and desirable so start with shops and expand your search online.
Places like Etsy and eBay are full of these items, the price range varies greatly so make sure you search well. You can bid on live auctions at Invalauble.com and LiveAuctioneers. Also, Ruby Lane is a great source for depression glass enthusiasts.
Is it true that depression glass items are dangerous?
Colors like green and yellow contain Uranium, which is toxic. Luckily the amounts of uranium in these items are very low so they aren’t radioactive or toxic. This is why Depress Glass sometimes is also called Uranium glass or Vaseline glass. This preposition is wrong since not all colors consist of this compound.
For instance, blue Depression Glass is made with cobalt, brown with nickel, purple has manganese, and so on. If you aren’t sure you can always test your glassware for Uranium under UV light.
What color of depression glass is most valuable?
The most valuable color is pink, but it is closely followed by lavender, light peach, pale green, and ice blue. Yet by this day most valuable examples of depression glass were made from different shades of pink glass.
Is it true that Depression Glass can become “sick”?
Yes, but not in the real meaning of the word. In this case, “sick” means damaged for good. You should never wash your depressed glass items in a dishwasher. The high temperatures and aggressive chemicals make it gloomy and cloudy.
Have You Learned Enough About Depression Glass?
Collecting depression glass is a very fun and exciting hobby, to be honest. At the same time, it is risky, since it can be very costly if you get tricked and buy a worthless replica for the price of the real thing.
I get that hunting for depression glass can be a very rewarding pursuit, but be realistic. Not every piece of it has the worth of a hundred or thousands of dollars. I hope that this article contributed to and expanded your knowledge about this topic.
As usual, I will politely ask you to share your experience or advice related to depression glass items. When it comes to antiques, there can never be too much knowledge. Until the next article!