Many collectors of white milk glass love the pieces covered in grapes. These pieces frequently have full bunches of grapes dangling from vines with leaves. There are several different popular patterns in this theme, made by different companies. They are similar enough that some collectors will mix and match to get all the pieces they want, while other collectors will only acquire specific patterns or manufacturers. If this is an area of interest for you, it is important to learn to recognize and identify the patterns by sight, as many sellers get them confused. Thankfully, once you have learned the characteristics of each pattern, it is not hard to get them right with a high degree of accuracy.
Probably the single most popular pattern is Westmoreland’s ‘Paneled Grape’. Most of the pieces in this pattern are marked with the WG on the base or underside of a lid. There are a few that are not marked, so if you find one without a mark it may still be ‘Paneled Grape’. Westmoreland pieces are a thick, heavy white milk glass, completely opaque with a high gloss or sheen. The "panel" part of the name is the most important characteristic of this glass. All pieces have flat panels around the sides, most with scalloped tops. ‘Paneled Grape’ is popular with collectors because of the abundance of pieces made. You can collect an entire table service, and you can even choose from among multiple candle holders, mayonnaise dishes, cream and sugar sets, vases, bowls, covered dishes and planters. Westmoreland also made a smaller pattern called ‘Beaded Grape’ that shares the same shapes as much of the ‘Paneled Grape’. The ‘Beaded Grape’ pieces have beads or hobnails at the corners and do not have the flat panels and scallops.
The pattern most frequently mislabeled is Anchor Hocking Fire King’s ‘Vintage’ pattern. Pieces in the ‘Vintage’ pattern are available in clear and white. The punch sets and snack sets show up most frequently in clear. The punch set also appears in white, along with a large footed bowl, a few styles of vases and planters, and at least two covered candy dishes. This is a much smaller pattern. It is not a dinnerware pattern; there are no plates, platters, small bowls, tumblers, etc. A few of the pieces of ‘Vintage’ are marked with the Anchor Hocking Fire King logo, such as the large shallow bowl and the rectangular planter. However, most of the pieces are not marked and you have to learn the shapes. Because this pattern also has panels as part of the design, many sellers innocently assume it is ‘Paneled Grape’, but it is not. One good way to tell the difference is in the thickness of the glass wall on each piece. ‘Vintage’ pieces are relatively thin, where ‘Paneled Grape’ pieces are twice as thick. In addition, the Anchor Hocking pieces have a "skim milk" appearance – slightly translucent. Many of the pieces also have a stippled or textured background that you will not find on ‘Paneled Grape’.
Another popular pattern for grape collectors in milk glass is Indiana Glass ‘Harvest’, also called ‘Harvest Grape’ and ‘Vintage’. It is a dinnerware pattern and is often confused with ‘Paneled Grape’. This is a small pattern, with goblets, sherbets, cream and sugar, plates, bowls, candle holders, tumblers, a large pitcher, pedestal bowl/compotes, salt and pepper shakers, vases, a platter, a punch set and snack sets. The pieces are not marked. Indiana’s pieces are opaque white, but not as glossy or thick as ‘Paneled Grape’. Many of them do have a paneled appearance, even with a scallop at the top of each section, but the scallops are below the rim with all the rims smooth and flat. Sometimes it can be easier to identify Harvest pieces backwards: the same molds were used in the 1970s to make Harvest in Carnival color finishes, including blue, green, and marigold. Therefore, if you find a grape piece in white that matches a grape piece in Carnival, it is probably Indiana. Many sellers are more accurate in their Carnival attributions than their milk glass attributions.
There is also a Grape pattern by Imperial Glass. Imperial Glass, like Indiana, made the same pattern in white milk glass and in carnival colors. In Carnival, the pattern name is ‘Heavy Grape’ and in white, the pattern is ‘Vintage Grape’. The Vintage Grape pattern in white is available in satin (doeskin) and glossy finishes. It is also a dinnerware pattern with a wide variety of pieces available. In addition, there are variations within the pattern with elements such as scallops at the rim and stippled backgrounds. Imperial Glass pieces are normally marked with an IG, the ‘G’ over the ‘I’. This mark always means Imperial Glass never Indiana Glass.
Finally, there are a few pieces by L.E. Smith in a grape milk glass pattern. Smith also made ‘Grape’ in a variety of other colors from 1956-1968, with some hand painted pieces produced between 1963-1965. Smith pieces are most similar to Imperial. They are not paneled and generally have rounder or curvier shapes (less straight side walls).
There are a few useful books that you can consult to learn to identify these patterns quickly. ‘The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Milk Glass’, by Betty & Bill Newbound; ‘A Century of Indiana Glass’ by Craig Schenning; ‘L.E. Smith Glass Company’ by Tom Felt; and ‘Collectible Glassware from the 40s, 50s, and 60s’, by Gene Florence, are the best I have found.
By Cheryl Moody of Hoosier Collectibles
Cheryl has been a shopowner at Ruby Lane for 7 1/2 years. One of her specialties is glass, and she takes great care to correctly identify everything she possibly can. Cheryl lives in South Bend, Indiana with her husband and four children. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in political science and religion. She got started in the business of selling antiques and vintage kitchenwares online as a means to make her student loan payments while staying home at home with her kids.
The photographs are of items listed in Cheryl’s shop and other fabulous Ruby Lane shops. Search using the term "milk glass" for hundreds of items to choose from.