How did carnival glass get its name? It earned it as you might think. These glass items were given away at carnivals back in the early 1900s. Instead of a big teddy bear after winning a carnival game, how about a pretty glass vase for mother? Carnival glass wasn't welcomed by all. Some proper ladies would not allow this glass in their homes. This iridescent glass is something that people either loved or hated.
Making carnival glass, which was created by many different companies such as Dugan, Fenton, and Northwood involved a combination of chemicals that were applied to the pressed glass before its firing. The resulting swirly sheen that sometimes looks like an oil slick was much less expensive to produce when compared to other iridescent art glass popular at the time such as Tiffany and Steuben. It is sometimes referenced as the "poor man's Tiffany."
That doesn't mean all carnival glass is cheap though. There are some very affordable pieces, but others can be quite pricey. Take a look at some of the going prices for carnival glass pieces over the years. There is quite a range in price that depends on the rarity (a limited run), the year of manufacture, the condition of the piece, selling the piece as part of a complete set, and the color variety. Pieces that sell on the lower end of the spectrum may show wear marks or may have a crack or chip.
Dugan Iris Tankard and Glass Set
The Dugan set (pictured) includes a 12.5-inch tankard and six glasses (sometimes referenced as tumblers in old-fashioned terms) in iridescent purple or amethyst glass. It was in excellent condition when it sold in 2012 for $600 via Morphy Auction. Dugan was known for producing deep shades of amethyst glass, some so dark they appeared black.
The glass companies in the early 1900s were all closely related and networked. The Dugan Glass Company was started by Thomas Dugan in Pennsylvania in 1905. The glass was manufactured in what used to be one of the Northwood glass factories. Dugan left in 1913 and the company was renamed Diamond Glass. Dugan later went to work for Cambridge Glass.
Northwood Strawberries Ice Blue Plate
This rare ice blue-colored plate was made by Northwood Glass Company in the strawberry pattern. This is a rare piece in this color only. Plates in this pattern in other colors will not bring values in this range. This plate sold for $16,327 on eBay in 2003.
Northwood is a prominent name in carnival glass production. Most Northwood items fetch the highest prices as far as antique American carnival glass goes. Harry Northwood is known for developing a carnival glass formula he named "golden iris" in 1908. The golden iris hue is more common than ice blue. To identify a Northwood glass item, the maker mark was an "N" inside of a circle. Not all pieces carry the mark but it is seen most often on carnival glass items.
Dugan Lattice and Daisy Marigold Tumbler
This marigold-colored tumbler was made by Dugan. The pattern is called lattice and daisy. Dugan was known for both ball and spatula-shaped feet and deeply crimped edges on pieces. This glass company was also known for its peach opalescent glass. It produced the most peach opalescent of any of the carnival glass manufacturers.
This tumbler, being sold separately, can be found priced to sell for $8 to $25 on eBay.
Dugan Question Marks Marigold Footed Bonbon Dish
This marigold-colored footed bonbon dish was made by Dugan. It is in the question mark pattern. This dish sells in the $20 to $40 range on eBay in 2018. The amethyst-colored dish in the same pattern is priced higher since it is rarer at $30 to $70. In 2006, this marigold dish sold in the $25 to $30 range.
Fenton Autumn Acorns Bowl
This marigold-colored autumn acorns bowl was made by Fenton, which is one of the most prolific names in American glassware. Marigold is one of the most common carnival glass colors.
Fenton's carnival glass was first marketed as the "golden sunset iridescent assortment" in catalogs. In 1907 when these pieces first sold, they cost 85 cents. A Fenton autumn acorns bowl averages for about $65. You can find some selling for as much as $150. Earlier Fenton specimens, up through 1920, can fetch a high price.
The rage for carnival glass in the United States continued for 10 years (1908 to about 1918). When the market for carnival glass slumped in the 1920s, the lower-quality carnival glass was given away as prizes at carnivals.
Fenton was a family-owned business operating from 1905 through 2011. It made carnival glass in many different colors.
Fenton Butterflies Bonbon Dish
This Fenton marigold-colored bonbon dish was made in the butterfly pattern. In 2006, it sold in the $28 to $32 range. This collectible sells for about the same price in 2018. If the piece is never used and in mint condition, then the cost mounts.
Fenton Orange Tree Compote
This Fenton marigold-colored footed compote dish is in the orange tree pattern. Fenton was known for its finishing processes and glass detailing such as fancily scalloped and crimped edges that bring to mind ribbon candy. In 2006, this dish sold for $18 on eBay.
Fenton Smooth Rays with Scale Band Marigold Bowl 9"
This Fenton marigold-colored bowl is in the smooth rays pattern and it has a scale band on the back. This distinctive scale band pattern can tell you something about the age of the piece. Certain years used different banded patterns. As well, there are stippled rays, smooth rays, and medallion designs. Collectors determine the value of one pattern over another depending on the supply available for resale.
This piece sold for $22.50 at the Austin Antique Mall in 2006. Keep in mind, that if you like antiquing, and if you can buy in person, you do not have to worry about additional shipping costs or breakage concerns during shipping.
Imperial Waffle Block Marigold Basket
This marigold-colored basket was made by the Imperial Glass Company in the waffle block pattern. Carnival glass made by this company includes not only table or dinnerware sets, but berry sets, and other useful items imitating cut glass patterns. Marks vary on Imperial carnival glass pieces, but to identify it, look for the familiar "iron cross" mark. This piece was selling for $35 to $50 in 2006. In 2018, this piece sold between $20 to $90. The vast difference in price reflects a verifiable age of the glass piece and the condition of it.