Senior Moving Specialist: Fenton Glass 101 - A beginners guide to collecting

The Fenton Art Glass Company has been in business for over 100 years and is still making glass today in Williamstown WV. With such a long and productive company history Fenton has made something to make every glass enthusiast a happy collector. There is such a wide variety of items, colors and styles it may be difficult to pick just one to collect. Beginning a collection may seem a little over whelming. Questions I often hear are: "How do I know it’s really Fenton?" and "How can I tell when this was made?"

A few tips to help answer those questions:

How do I know it’s Fenton? My glass has a rough mark on the bottom, is it Fenton?
Pontil Marks:  99.99% of the time, Fenton will not have a pontil mark on the bottom. A pontil mark is a mark on the bottom of an item where the punty rod was attached during the glass making process. Pontil marks can look like a rough broken chipped mark, a bumpy lump, or a polished concave dimple. Fenton uses snap rings to hold their bases while working with glass rather than punty rods. Exceptions to this rule are some Off Hand Glass made in the 1920’s, which is very rare; and Off Hand Glass made more recently by Master Craftsmen like Robert Barber, Dave Fetty and Frank Workman, which will be signed.

My cruet has a pontil mark on the bottom, is it not Fenton?
The mark on the bottom of cruets is not a pontil mark, it is a cut shut mark. Your cruet could still be Fenton. Most items are made right side up in the mould. The bottom of a piece is at the bottom of a mould. Some cruets on the other hand are made upside down. The bottom of the mould forms the top of the cruet. The bottom of the cruet is open in top of the mould. The glass is pulled shut and then cut to form a solid bottom. This “cut shut” process leaves a mark that looks similar to a pontil mark. Many companies used this process to make cruets. A cut shut mark isn’t a positive indicator the item is Fenton but it also can’t be used to rule out that your item isn’t Fenton.

My piece isn’t marked Fenton, could it still be Fenton?
Yes, Fenton did not start using molded marks in their glass until the 1970’s. The majority of Fenton was only marked with a sticker. Most of the stickers have been lost or removed over time.

I believe my piece is Fenton made after 1970 but I can’t find a mark, could it still be Fenton?
Yes, some types of glass and treatments on glass can obscure or remove the mark entirely. Satin glass often losses the mark during the sandblasting process used to make the finish satin. Sometimes Fenton will reapply an etched Fenton oval mark. With Opalescent glass sometimes the heating process used to bring out the opalescence blurs, obscures or flattens out the molded mark. Look very close for an oval even if you can’t see the word Fenton. Colors like Cranberry and Overlay colors are mould blown rather than pressed. Air is used to blow the glass into the mould. Sometimes not enough air pressure causes the logo to be faint in the glass. Again look very closely for a light oval mark.

The key to identifying if an item is Fenton is the pattern and the basic mould shape. There are many great books on Fenton available that show patterns. The mould shape is the main shape of an item including the base and mid-section. The measurement and shape of the base and the main shape of the item can help identify if is Fenton. This is important when collecting Stretch Glass as many of the companies that made Stretch Glass produced very similar items. The finished height and width of items are not overly important. They may vary greatly. The tops and edges of items are manipulated when the glass is hot to form many different item and looks. The same mould could be used to make bowls, baskets, rose bowls and vases in some cases. The size and shape of the base is the most important factor when looking at mould shape.

How old is my piece of Fenton?
Fenton Marks:
The Fenton in an oval logo was first used on Carnival Glass in 1970. The next line to be marked was Hobnail in 1972-1973. By 1975 the logo had been added to all Fenton items.
Fenton added a small number 8 to the logo used for the 80’s decade, 9 for 90’s decade and 0 for 2000 to the present. The numbers can be small and hard to read. It is best to view them with a jewelers loop when trying to identify your decade.

In addition to the Fenton name in the oval, there is also a cursive 'F' in an oval. This denotes that the mould originally belonged to a company other than Fenton. This came into use in 1983. The number system also applies to the decades.

Seconds Marks:
Seconds only began being marked in the early 1990's. A sandblasted Flame which resembles an S was first used. 1996-1998 a sandblasted star, solid or outlined was used to denote a second. Piece marked with two stars were items that Fenton donated to charitable organizations. From 1998 to the present, an uppercase block F is used to mark seconds.

Fenton Stickers:

  • 1925 Oval foil sticker with scalloped edges "Fenton Art Glass" color ivory and silver.
  • 1939-1947 Oval foil sticker with scalloped edges “Handmade in America by Fenton” colors yellow and gold, blue and gold.
  • 1947-1953 Oval foil sticker “Authentic Fenton Handmade” colors brown and silver, yellow and silver, yellow and gold, blue and silver.
  • 1950-1959 Rectangular foil sticker “Authentic Milk Glass Handmade by Fenton” red and silver.
  • 1953-1957 Rectangular foil sticker with angled sides “Authentic Fenton Handmade” colors yellow and gold, blue and silver, yellow and silver.
  • 1957-1970 Foil sticker with glass maker and Fenton oval “Authentic Fenton Handmade” colors magenta and silver, blue and silver.
  • 1970-1985 Paper sticker with glass maker and Fenton oval “Authentic Fenton Handmade” color black, gold and white.
  • 1985-now Oblong silver foil oval sticker “F Fenton Handmade in USA” and “F Fenton Handpainted in USA”
  • Special labels were also used for Handpainted items, items sold on QVC, and items sold during anniversary years.

Dates for some of the main lines:

  • Carnival Glass 1907-1926 and 1970-present
  • Stretch Glass 1917-early 1930’s and 1980-present
  • Acid Etched Satin Patterns 1935-1939
  • Hobnail 1940-present (the first hobnail piece was made in 1935 but the Hobnail line wasn’t introduced until 1940)
  • Crests 1939-present (a few crest pieces were made in the 1920’s and 1930’s but the major crest lines were not started until 1939)
  • Opalescent Coin Dot 1947-1961, 1982 (for Levay), 1989-present
  • Overlay Colors 1939-present

 

 

Cynthia Danielski with Senior Moving Specialists became a Ruby Lane shop owner in February 2005. While the shop sells many different items, Cindy is a second generation Fenton glass collector purchasing her first piece in 1978. http://www.rubylane.com/shops/seniormovingspecialists

 


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