How to Identify and Value Depression Glass

Updated on November 10, 2018
Dolores Monet profile image

After inheriting her grandmother's collection of antiques, Dolores has maintained an interest in the care and sale of vintage items.

Depression Glass - a variety of pattern and color
Depression Glass - a variety of pattern and color | Source

Depression Glass refers to a particular type of glass that is often associated with the Great Depression. However, many of the glass companies that offered the pretty patterned glass had been in business long before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Federal Glass Company, for example, opened in 1900. When it and other companies automated production techniques and began to offer inexpensive glass dinner and luncheon ware, consumers on the lower end of the economic spectrum were able to afford the pretty glass.

During the 1930s, the general public was unable to afford the niceties of life. People who were able to hang onto jobs often had their hours cut, and the rest lived in fear of job loss. Many lost their life savings when banks collapsed. Many businesses failed as a result of the harsh economic conditions.

Some businesses that remained open offered incentives for consumers in order to remain afloat. Depression Glass was often used as an enticement to attract customers. Movie theaters featured "glass night" when attendees received free glassware along with the show. Depression Glass was offered along with the purchase of kitchen appliances. Some pieces were included in boxes of soap or oatmeal.

Depression-era homemakers could find their favorite patterns at the 5 & 10 or Woolworth's for as little as five cents each.

Confusing Glassware

  • All Depression Glass is not colored. Though clear pink and green have long been popular colors, other colors included amber, blue, amethyst, ruby red, and black. Many companies offered clear uncolored patterns usually referred to as "crystal" though they were not crystal per se.
  • All colored glass is not Depression Glass. If the glass was handmade or hand finished, it is generally not Depression Glass.
  • Elegant Glass is sometimes included in the genre though many purists disagree. When the U.S. emerged from the Great Depression new hand finished glassware was sold at better department stores, though it had been produced for some time. Elegant Glass usually shows an etched, highly polished design while Depression Glass features slightly raised designs.
  • Carnival Glass is iridescent hand finished glass produced from 1900 - 1925. Most pieces are decorative rather than functional. However, the Normandie pattern offered by the Federal Glass Company from 1933 - 1940 did have an iridescent quality.
  • Just because it shows up on a Google image search does not mean it is Depression Glass. This handy tool is a great place to browse pictures but images of other things may appear. Use the search to locate reliable pages.
  • All Depression Glass is not translucent. Some items appeared in an opaque red, black, or green. Opaque white is thinner than milk glass.

The Collecting Craze

As the Baby Boomers plunged into a collecting mania in the 1980s, reproductions were rampant. Some reproductions were created to fool buyers as the value of Depression Glass skyrocketed. Other copies were offered just because people liked the look and did not want to use the real thing.

During those years, people bought up things for investment. The concept that "they don't make this any more" convinced buyers that the value could only escalate. some shoppers had the idea that prices could only go up. Of course the value of collectibles does go up as long as there is a demand.

As Baby Boomers began to downsize, suddenly everyone wanted to sell their old stuff. More and more Depression Glass appeared on the market. But decorating trends influence shopping habits. The new movement toward minimalism steered young people away from the fussy glass toward simpler items.

The good news is that the market is great for buyers. Prices go down with less demand. But buyers should still beware of the fakes of the late 20th century. Many avid collectors say they can identify the real thing by how it feels. For the most part, real Depression Glass is lighter than reproductions. There may be slight imperfections in authentic Depression Glass like tiny bubbles or ripples. Some may show minor scratches from use.

If you want to collect a particular pattern get to know that pattern. Look closely at it. Hold it up to the light to study the color. (The color of a fake may be off) Feel the heft of it. You should soon be able to judge what is real vs what is fake.

How to Identify a Pattern

Use a book or online guide to identify your pattern. Many guides provide simple images to make this easy. Look for several different things.

Silhouette - shape guides display the general outline of a plate or bowl, Notice dips, scallops, or beaded edges. A plate may feature a smooth edge interrupted by dips. Trace the outline as shown below on a piece of paper.This makes comparison easier without the distraction of color or pattern details.

Notice where arcs, swirls, or other details lay on the edge of the item. Count large, obvious details such as the six straight edges on the green Florentine #1 sherbet plate as illustrated below.

Trace a plate onto a piece of paper to see the outline
Trace a plate onto a piece of paper to see the outline | Source
Florentine #1 green sherbet plate
Florentine #1 green sherbet plate | Source

Pattern Guides

Take a close look at the pattern on your piece. Decide on the prominent motif. It could be a style like Art Deco or geometric. You may see leaves, flowers, loops, petals, fruit, or birds. Concentrate on those obvious motifs in your search.

Patterns can be confusing so you need to hone your powers of observation. For instance, English Hobnail and Miss America can look very similar with just a cursury inspection.


When you find a pattern that appears to match your piece, check to see if the company that produced that pattern made it in the color that you have. If you find that it did not your piece may be a reproduction. Or perhaps you misidentified the piece.

Depression Glass Windsor Pitcher by Jeanette Glass Company 1936 - 1946
Depression Glass Windsor Pitcher by Jeanette Glass Company 1936 - 1946 | Source

The heavy peachy pink pitcher above is a personal favorite for iced tea or ice water. Due to its shape, it was easy to identify by pattern. The design is an obvious series of diamonds bisected by vertical lines. The bottom features a circle of elongated diamonds with a center that resembles a daisy or sunburst.

Looking at various images of diamond patterns, I decided that my pattern was Windsor by Jeanette Glass Company and produced from 1936 - 1946. The book I was using did not include the 6 1/2" tall pitcher. So I searched online and found the same product at Replacements. I also learned that one recently sold for $40.00 on Ebth.


Many informative books on Depression Glass are older and will not reflect current values. However, these older books can offer a lot of information and can be used to identify your pattern. Some excellent books are no longer in print. The good news is that older books can be found used online.

To find a value for your vintage glassware, shop around. Visit local antique dealers. Often, the demand for a particular pattern varies according to the area in which you live. Dealers can be quite informative especially if the shop is not very busy at the time of your visit.

Check online auction sites. Look at the "sold" price. You may want to disregard the highest asking prices as some sellers overvalue their goods. When browsing online look at sellers who specify the pattern. That means they have some knowledge of their wares.

If you want to sell your glass do not expect to collect the full retail value of a piece as stated at sites like Kovel's or Replacements. Remember that a dealer must make overhead and profit. Consignment shops also must collect a percentage of the sold price. Some dealers lower the prices on goods that have not sold in a specific time.

What is value?

A pink Windsor pitcher (like the one shown above) sold for $40.00 online. I got mine for free! So if I sold it for $40.00, that would be a significant profit!

If you can't remember what you paid for a piece, you're downsizing and just need to get rid of stuff, price your glass a bit lower than everyone else. Someone gets a bargain and you get rid of stuff.

Many collectors of the past bought their dishware at flea markets, rummage sales, thrift stores, and yard sales. In that case, you may still make a tidy profit if you choose to sell today.

Take Care of Your Depression Glass

The general rule of microwave is that if an item was produced before microwaves were in use, do not place those old things in a microwave. That goes for Depression Glass.

Do not clean Depression Glass in a dishwasher. Wash in warm water by hand with a soft cloth.

If you love your old glassware, use it! What's the sense of hiding it?

This Swirl or Petal Swirl luncheon plate was easy to identify due to it's unusual color - ultramarine. (Jeanette Glass Company 1937 - 1938
This Swirl or Petal Swirl luncheon plate was easy to identify due to it's unusual color - ultramarine. (Jeanette Glass Company 1937 - 1938 | Source
Normandie or Bouquet and Lattice 6 1/2" bowl. Look closely at pattern details to help identify your pattern.
Normandie or Bouquet and Lattice 6 1/2" bowl. Look closely at pattern details to help identify your pattern. | Source

For Your Research

There are tons of books out there about Depression Glass. An older book may not help you understand the current value of your items but can help you research your pattern. Here are several resources:

  • Barbara Mauzy's Comprehensive Handbook of Depression Glass by Barbara and Jim Mouzy
  • Pocket Guide to Depression Glass and More by Gene and Cathy Florence
  • Colors and Patterns of Depression Era Glassware Revised and Expanded Second Edition by Doris Yeske and Lyle Fokken
  • Warman's Depression Glass Handbook : Identification, Values, Pattern Guide by Ellen Schroy
  • Depression Glass and Beyond : A Guide to Pattern Identification - Schiffer Book for Collectors

Also check out the National Depression Glass Association where you can find information on dealers, conventions, seminars, and shows.

There are many informative online sites that can help you such as:

  • Kovel's
  • Replacements
  • Depression, Elegant, and 1940s, 50s, and 60s Glass Patterns, Identification Guide by Kejaba Treasures

Questions & Answers

  • I have a pink set depression glass still in its FW Woolworth packaging. It's 4 or 5 boxes of glasses and stemware. Would this be a valuable find?

    The best value in Depression glass depends on if the set is a pattern that is in high demand. When you comparison shop online, look for items in their original packaging, not just in Woolworth packaging. I've seen pretty sets offered for up to twenty dollars. Depression glass was once highly collectible but the lack of interest and the vast number of pieces for sale have deflated the value.

  • Does Depression glass come with a mark on the bottom, mine has an F in a shield?

    Some Depression glass is marked and some are not. Your F inside a shield indicated that your glass was produced by the Federal Glass Company. Some of their products were not marked. The company was founded in 1900 in Columbus, Ohio and produced handmade, etched glass. It went over to mass production in the 1920s. Federal Glass made many popular glass patterns including Normandie, Mayfair, Colonial Fluted, and Raindrops.

    Consult one of the books that I have suggested to find your pattern.

  • Does Depression glass coming in pink have the Lords last supper on it?

    Pink glass trays or trinket trays were made to look like Depression glass in the 1970s and 1980s when molded glass was popular. The Last Supper tray also came in aquamarine or teal colored.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      2 weeks ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi R - glad you enjoyed. Learning about Depression Glass patterns can seem confusing at first, but it's a fun thing to do. I had mine for years but never bothered to identify each piece. The books make it quite simple.

    • RTalloni profile image


      2 weeks ago from the short journey

      Thanks for this interesting look at depression glass. I enjoyed learning more about it and appreciate the tips you've included.

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      5 months ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Glen - I am wondering if you are thinking of Carnival glass. It has an iridescent, rainbow like look and had a world wide distribution. Look it up to see if that is what you are remembering.

    • Glenis Rix profile image


      5 months ago from UK

      I had never heard of Depression Glass before reading your interesting article. I don’t think it was made here in England - need to check. I remember my mother mentioning Fairground Glass. She had a few pieces. It looked quite shoddy, so I believe it may have been handed out as prizes on stalls at travelling fairs, as the name suggests. Again - need to research.

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      10 months ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Dora - got my own self interested! I got several books out of the library in order to identify my patterns and decided to do an article. Then I take the books back and promptly forget my patterns. Oh well....

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      10 months ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Mary - lucky for those with little storage space, Depression Glass is rather thin and doesn't take up much room. I pile my little dessert plates up with a piece of paper towel between them. Thanks!

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      10 months ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Peggy - I love the pinks and green the best as well. I always advise treating older dishware the way they treated it when it came out. Dishwashers can damge Depression Glass. Thanks!

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      10 months ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Peg - I use the older books. For one thing, you can pick them up used for low prices. The values might change but the patterns do not. Thanks!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      10 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks for writing this Dolores. I have some green and pink dishes handed down to me from my family. I have never put it in the microwave or dishwasher. We are in a downsizing mode so won't be collecting any more of it but it is interesting to read about it. We have used Replacements a few times but did not know about Kovel's, so thanks for that information also.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      10 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have a few green pieces and I love them very much. I do use them and as we have already downsized, i just have no room to get more but they are lovely.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      10 months ago from The Caribbean

      Informative and interesting! I learned so many amazing details from this article. Thanks especially for the section on identifying a pattern. You got me interested.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      10 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Loved seeing this guide to Depression glass. That era of dinnerware and glass dishes is among my all-time favorites. I also have a collection of the old collectible books that I still use for identification of patterns. That used to be the only guides we had before the Internet.

      The pink Normandie dinnerware is so lovely. My Aunt Jessie had a set that we used for meals at her house.

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      10 months ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi John - it was fun for me to research my own glass. But I like that sort of thing. My problem is that I rarely record what I learn thinking that I will remember. Hardy har. I do not. I do love the green stuff the best. Thanks!

    • Dolores Monet profile imageAUTHOR

      Dolores Monet 

      10 months ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Flourish - the problem with dishwashers is that they can create a cloudy stain on the old glass that is impossible to clean off.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      A very informative article, Dolores. I have at least a dozen pieces of green glassware that was handed down from my mother (who collected it)and grandmother. It is in various shapes and patterns. I will have to research more to see if it is depression glass. This was very helpful.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      10 months ago from USA

      You are definitely an expert in this area! I have several pieces that came from my great grandmother and other I picked up at antique stores just because I thought they were pretty. I’m glad you gave the tips about microwaves and dishwashers. Whoops.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)