From the end of the nineteenth century until the 1980s, milk glass was a popular collection in the United States. Milk glass is a popular choice for new collectors since it’s lovely, easy to find, and inexpensive. Depending on the quality of the piece or set, milk glasses can cost as little as a few dollars to hundreds of dollars.
This detailed article is a good starting point if you want to learn about the most valuable milk glass pieces and whether they’re worth collecting.
The Top 3 Most Valuable Milk Glass Pieces
You may find antique glassware at many estate sales, and if you’re a staunch collector, you probably know this already. It’s possible to become an antique glass collector even if you haven’t started collecting yet. You’ll learn everything you need to know with the help of this manual.
But first, let’s walk you through the top 3 most valuable milk glass pieces.
1. The Most Valuable Vintage Milk Glass in a Set — Octagonal Punch Bowl
A 1900s design; has an impressive design; one of the most sought-after pieces by collectors; the most expensive at $517; incredibly rare.
2. The Most Valuable Duck-Shaped Milk Glass — Duck On Reeds Candy Dish
Atterbury & Co milk glass; a quite pricey piece at $400; features a design that dates to 1902; comes in a complete set.
3. The Best Crafted Milk Glass — Multiple Milk Glass Bowl
Beautifully designed with unique crafting; a Federal milk glass; among the rarest and most valuable pieces; a 1960s design; currently valued at $200.
A Brief History of Vintage Milk Glass
It wasn’t until the 16th century that the first milk glass was made in Venice, Italy. There were different varieties and colors such as pink, yellow, blue, brown, and white available. As time went on, the white glass became increasingly fashionable, especially during England’s reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901. Eventually, milk glass became a typical name for opaque glass during this era.
Also, milk glass manufacturing continued through the 1920s and 1940s, experiencing a huge rebirth after World War II. You may even find many people who probably inherited the glass from the 1950s and 1960s. This milk glass type was from well-known manufacturers like Anchor Hocking, Fenton, and Westmoreland.
In the late 19th century, milk glass, suitably named for its white tint, was very popular. From the simplest plates to the most ornate serving platters, collectors today find these pieces fascinating and worth collecting. There’s surprisingly a wide variety of these items. Rare milk glass pieces evoke a sense of nostalgia, especially for people who attach a sentimental value to items of the past.
Milk glass was first popularized by French artists, who paved the way for American artists to follow suit. The value of French milk glass has increased recently. You’ll find milk glasses as dinnerware, serving dishes, and pitchers stored up by wealthy American households as a tribute to France.
At the turn of the twentieth century, these decorative objects made a big impression in America and remained fashionable until the Great Depression. Hobnail milk glasses brought them back into fashion in the 1960s, but they faded out of the public eye soon after. These fantastic pieces may not be so expensive now, but there’s no doubt that they’ll hold an even higher value in the near future.
The Top 7 Most Valuable and Rare Milk Glass Pieces
We’ll cover all you need to know about the most valuable milk glass pieces in this section — from how much they’re worth to how to recognize them. Our list of seven most valuable and rarest milk glass pieces is from verified auction and collector websites. You’ll find the current value in the market, although considering how valuable they are, the prices tend to fluctuate.
Here are the top 7 most valuable milk glasses:
- Octagonal Punch Bowl
- Duck on Reeds Candy Dish
- Multiple Milk Glass Bowl
- Vintage Hazel Atlas Tom And Jerry
- Milk Glass Paneled Grape Epergne Bow
- White Milk Glass Punch
- Vintage Console Bowl
Now, let’s have a closer look at each of them.
1. Octagonal Punch Bowl (eBay)
The Most Valuable Vintage Milk Glass in a Set
- Year: 1900s
- Value: $517.50
- Brand: Fenton
This was one of the priciest milk glasses we came across. A complete collection like this is exceedingly hard to come by, much less one by Fenton; thus, it’s even more preferred by collectors. The octagonal punch bowl is adorned with hobnail nails which make for its centerpiece among the set. This piece comes with twelve cups and is beautifully crafted.
Thanks to its inner and outer panels, the bowl features a tapered and smooth design. While the inner parts of the cups are relatively smoother, you can still see the inner panels. However, the insides are made smoother, aiding drinking. Moreover, the ladle sports a practical pour spot, while the cups have 8 outer panels.
2. Duck on Reeds Candy Dish (Etsy)
The Most Valuable Duck-Shaped Milk Glass
- Year: 1902
- Value: $400
- Brand: Atterbury & Co
This Duck on Reeds milk glass was first molded in the 1900s, and that yellow tinge tells you it’s one of the originals. The dish is about 5 inches at its longest spot and was marketed as part of the Opal Ware Super Decorated series. The texture and detail are impressive for the time. Opal Ware’s Super decorated a variety of it and included this 5-inch-long dish, as was advertised.
Atterbury & Company is a well-known maker of vintage milk glass. Some of their pieces had the patent date stamped on them, making them easier to identify and value. An adorable duck sits atop this candy dish. Both back then and now, it’s one of their best-selling items.
3. Multiple Milk Glass Bowl (eBay)
The Best Crafted Milk Glass
- Year: 1960s
- Value: $199.99
- Brand: Federal
What do you call objects that nestle within one another, from large to small? This piece is quite similar to a Russian Nesting Doll. The milk glass in this set is a priceless collectible. These four bowls are white with teal-colored designs painted on the sides.
It has flat, tapering sides with a broader rim. Its decorative elements on the sides are said to be Scandinavian, yet they appear random. They include maracas, a music box, leafy vines, salad tongs, and shields. You can be sure that you’re getting an authentic item when you see the small logo on the bottom of the milk glass.
4. Vintage Hazel Atlas Tom And Jerry (Etsy)
- Year: 1950s
- Value: $195.92
- Brand: Hazel Atlas
This milk glass piece is sought after by collectors for its translucent clarity, which modern milk glass lacks. Opaque glass is a common characteristic of more recent designs. Hence, it’s a great collectible because it’s so outlandishly unique.
On hearing “Tom & Jerry,” you probably have a preconceived idea in your head. Contrary to what you may have thought, it sports imprints of men in top hats and scarves. Surprising right?
The Christmas set isn’t quite predictable after all. The unique design is the milk glass’s appeal, and it’s impossible to miss. It found use in serving punch or eggnog during holiday gatherings. Also, apart from being a serving bowl, this set comes in a complete set of six cups.
5. Milk Glass Paneled Grape Epergne Bowl (Etsy)
- Year: 1950s
- Value: $243.01
- Brand: Westmoreland
These intricate epergne bowls are both decorative and practical. You’re getting a 3–5 foot-high main bowl flanked by 2–7 branches of sub-bowls. It serves to house your flowers, candles, sweets, side dishes, ornaments, chips, among others.
Silver was the initial material for epergnes, but milk glass has now replaced it. The grapes on the sides of this two-piece variant are etched on the piece. There are also textured panels on the bowl’s vertical part, adding depth and precision. Also, the rim of the bowl’s lowest portion is thickly fluted.
6. White Milk Glass Punch (Replacements)
- Year: Unknown
- Value: $299.95
- Brand: Westmoreland
This Ivy and Grapes bowl design was one of the most popular commercially sold punch bowls with a nostalgic value. Apart from its sentimental value, finding a set that includes the bowl and the mugs is extremely rare. Moreover, this punch dish is unique, and it’s not possible to tell if it’s not porcelain because of its white color.
Keep in mind that China was reserved for royalty, while everyone else used milk glasses in the past. It’s more common for porcelain to be thicker and heavier than bone china, though. However, China is lighter and more delicate, while this milk glass bowl, on the other hand, has thick rims and a detailed design of grapes.
7. Vintage Console Bowl (eBay)
- Year: Unknown
- Value: $139.95
- Brand: Westmoreland
This Westmoreland milk glass is somewhat different from the punch bowl we mentioned earlier. However, it won’t hurt to highlight the key differences between the punch bowl and this console bowl.
Punch bowls are deeper, whereas console bowls are smaller and used for fruit or floral arrangements. Like the previous one, this piece is also decorated with embossed grapes.
However, this console bowl’s shapes are more detailed and defined than the previous one. A few vines and leaves have been tucked into the fruit as well. Summarily, this bowl is more valuable as a collectible because of its finer craftsmanship.
A Detailed Buyer’s Guide: All You Need to Know When Collecting Valuable Rare Milk Glass Pieces
It’s agreed that antique glassware can be extremely valuable, and there are several reasons people collect it. Some people are drawn to it for its aesthetic value or historical significance, while others do so for sentimental reasons.
To ensure you don’t fall for scammers, we put together this vast buyer’s guide, highlighting most of what you need to know to strike excellent milk glass deals.
Things To Consider When Buying Valuable Milk Glass
Even if you’re not sure why you’re collecting stuff, you should know what to look for in vintage milk glass pieces. Here are the most prominent ones:
When it comes to milk glass, the earlier samples are harder to come across than the more recent ones. The production of milk glass by various companies lasted from the late 1800s until the 1980s. Surprisingly, milk glass didn’t experience extensive use during this period. Today, these rare old pieces are highly sought after, and replicas are being made, so be on the lookout for them.
Older milk glass has a higher resale value, similar to the glass from the 1960s. Also, the 19th-century French milk glasses are among the most valuable pieces, as well as the late nineteenth-century American milk glass. It can be challenging to tell if your milk glass piece is old, but there are other factors you can consider, as we’ll see below.
Ring of Fire
An aged or original vintage milk glass piece should exhibit an array of subtle hues when a bright light is shown through it. Iridized salts were employed in the production of milk glass before the 1960s, creating an iridescent look.
Smooth milk glass is more likely to be older than rough or bumpy milk glass. Although antique glassware is available in a wide range of colors, most patterns were only available in a few hues. Some manufacturers expanded their color palettes when patterns were popular. Even so, you should be able to tell from your identification guide the place and time of production of each hue.
Milk glass has seen extensive production by several different companies over the years. To distinguish a manufacturer’s products, you need to identify the markings.
Turn a piece over and look at the bottom to see if it’s been marked. Most times, you’ll locate the mark in the middle. Then, compare it to the database of 20th Century Glass’s marks.
You may see the maker’s name or pattern number inscribed on many antique items. Some even indicate the date on which the patent was first issued.
There are numerous well-known producers of milk glass. Here are the milk glass makers known for their valuable pieces:
- Atterbury & Co
- Hazel Atlas
- Twain and Twain
- Gillinder & Sons
- The New England Glass Company
- Bryce Brothers
It’s important to note that numerous companies produce milk glass today. You may determine milk glass age from its appearance and feel. Most aged milk glass will appear smoother than modern milk glass, which is rougher.
Identifying the product’s maker is also a good place to start. A milk glass’s value is highly dependent on the piece’s condition. If it’s chipped, cracked, or crazed, it wouldn’t have as much value as those in pristine condition.
Stains can negatively impact their value too. When buying a rare milk glass, look for chips along the rims and corners of the pieces. Also, avoid items that appear to have been damaged. The stain or damage of the decorative enameling or paint can reduce the value of milk glass.
It’s not unusual for a business to design a pattern and then sell it for a few years before changing it. However, numerous milk glass manufacturers have re-released well-known designs after a long time. Ask if you’re unsure if an item is from the first or second issue.
Some Victorian-era milk glass had ornate enameling and might fetch a higher price on the open market. Simple, streamlined items became more valuable following the revival of the farmhouse style. Depending on the period, the designs are different.
Many companies produce milk glass, and its popularity has lasted for a long time, allowing for various shapes and designs. These are only a few examples:
- Tumblers and Glasses
- Compotes and cake stands
- Console Bowl
- Serving Dishes
Where Can You Get the Most Valuable Milk Glasses?
Switching up your means of collecting antiques can be as simple as knowing the best places to look for interesting pieces of glass. It’s easier to choose what to collect if you can find it online and if you have an identification and price guide handy. If you can’t find it in the guide, it’s likely a reproduction or an imitation.
Now, how can you tell if milk glass is valuable? Since milk glass has been in almost continuous production for over 100 years, finding it is quite easy. A stroll to an antique shop or flea market can provide dozens, if not hundreds, of these valuable pieces.
Even if you don’t live around flea markets or antique stores, you’ll still be able to find these valuable items online. You can get valuable and rare milk glasses from as low as 25 bucks to hundreds of dollars.
Are Milk Glasses Valuable and Worth Collecting?
Despite that most milk glass is reasonably priced, there are a few rare pieces of milk glass that command exorbitant prices. Always compare prices by looking at what similar pieces have sold for.
Antique glass can sell for any amount, but the only thing that matters is how much the buyer is willing to pay. eBay has lately sold some notable items like the Four McKee Milk Glass Shakers at nearly $900 at auction. Also, in early 2020, an Easter Bunny Candy Dish made of milk glass by E.C. Flaccus sold for $860 on the open market.
Another valuable milk glass was also sold in early 2020; a Greentown Glass cat hamper was valued at $700 even though it had small stress cracks.
There’s no doubt that the value of milk glasses will continue to increase with time, so now is the right time to start collecting. An excellent example of its possible value is depicted in a recent sale in 2016, where a fragment of Justin Bieber’s milk glass from the Kings Oak Hotel in Essex was auctioned for $80,000. This was considered one of the most expensive milk glasses auctioned recently.
Is Westmoreland milk glass valuable?
Yes, they are.
Between the 1920s and the 1950s, an estimated 90% of all Westmoreland glass comprised milk glass. Pieces of Westmoreland milk glass were among the best in the country due to their exceptional level of craftsmanship.
Westmoreland’s reputation for quality was a factor in the company’s survival throughout the Great Depression, unlike many of its competitors. This is why it’s among the most valuable milk glasses sold today. You can get vintage pieces for as much as $200 or more.
Is Fenton milk glass valuable?
Yes, they are.
It’s no secret that Fenton’s glass is of the highest quality. It also used snap rings to hold its glassware products during manufacturing, rather than punty rods, which generated the pontil marks. You can get these unique milk glass pieces from Fenton for $100 and above. There are older pieces that are especially rare and highly valuable.
How can I identify Fenton milk glass makers’ marks?
The majority of Fenton milk glasses were only marked with a sticker, the majority of which have gotten lost or removed over time. Some vintage Fenton pieces made may not have a mark, but this doesn’t mean they’re not genuine items. Some types of glass and treatments on glass can obscure or remove this mark entirely.
To ensure you’re getting an original piece, look for a Fenton tag (used before 1970). The “F” should be in an oval design; this helped identify the company’s mold used in milk glasses around 1983 or older.
What is the best milk glass markings identification method?
To determine if a piece of milk glass is genuinely antique, simply hold it up to the sun. Milk glass should have a translucent appearance, meaning it should allow light to pass through. If you look closely at the rim of antique milk glass, you’ll see an iridescent rainbow pattern.
Milk glass has seen production from numerous companies over the years. Several of these companies utilized marks to identify their products. The bottom of a piece can reveal whether it’s been marked or not; it’s most likely to be found in the middle of a page.
Which rare milk glass pieces are collectors interested in?
Before its peak in popularity, milk glass enjoyed production for almost 300 years. Most collectors are interested in milk glass made around the 1960s or earlier. Also, older or rare pieces were still in circulation around the 1980s. However, today’s milk glasses are replicas of well-known collectibles and designs still being made by glass artists.
When it comes to collecting milk glass, there’s a wide variety of items to choose from, as well as brands. Vintage milk glasses can be worth thousands of dollars, but if you start collecting them early, you’ll get value for them in the near future. Some go for as low as $10, but it’s proven that the value continues to increase over time.
If you’re new to collecting these valuable pieces, you can have an antique expert check for the originality of the milk glasses. Remember to check that the pieces are in good condition, looking out for chips, stains, or any other damage on the milk glass.