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Valuing Milk Glass
American milk glass is a popular collector's item that primarily dates back to the turn of the 19th century up through the 1950s. It is also called clambroth glass, resembling the color of the milky, translucent cooking liquid. This delicate, white glassware was used to make items such as bowls, mugs, candleholders, and more by Westmoreland, Fenton, Indiana, and other glassware companies.
If you are on the hunt for milk glass, keep an eye out for similar-looking platonite glass. It is very easy to confuse the two. Platonite was patented by the Hazel Atlas Glass Company in 1936 but was used for making glassware and dinnerware sets as early as the 1920s. To help you tell them apart, milk glass is more translucent than platonite, and platonite is usually marked "HA" on the bottom. Hazel Atlas platonite is also a collectible, so even if you make this mistake, it's not a bad one to make.
This guide can help you identify items and find ballpark values that tend to ebb and flow with supply and demand. Before you set a price on your wares or prepare to buy an item, check online venues such as Ruby Lane and Etsy and run a completed item search on eBay.Continue to 2 of 11 below.
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McKinley Milk Glass Plate
This milk glass political plate features the profile of President William McKinley. It was made around 1900 and has an ornate, open latticework along the rim.
- Condition: Very good to excellent considering that cold-painted decor is very easily scratched and worn away
- Size: 9 1/4 inches in diameter
- Selling Price: $30 (Morphy Auctions, 2013)
Three smaller, yet similar plates are circulating for sale in the political Americana market. One is another portrait of an apparently younger McKinley, another features McKinley with President Theodore Roosevelt, and a third has the image of presidential contender William Jennings Bryan.
Plates with the two presidents are usually more valuable. They typically have a blue or green glaze around the outer edges and are just 5 1/2 inches in diameter. For a frame of reference, one of these sold in 2019 for $51 on eBay.Continue to 3 of 11 below.
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Milk Glass Barber Bottle With Painted Poppies
This is an example of a Victorian-era milk glass barber bottle. It includes the stopper, is decorated with hand-painted poppies, and inscribed with the word "Water." This type of bottle was most often used to hold hair tonics concocted by barbers in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
- Condition: Excellent
- Size: 9 1/2 inches tall
- Selling Price: $120 (Morphy Auctions, 2012)
Milk glass bottles of this style and quality continue to sell for about the same price as 2012. The quality of the hand-painting and its excellent condition drives up the price for a piece like this. For example, a piece of a similar vintage without elaborate artwork commonly sells on eBay for about $50. In general, barber bottles seem to hold their value well.Continue to 4 of 11 below.
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Jackie Robinson Baseball Glass
Baseball, the beloved American national pastime, adds to the value of many antiques and collectibles. The more famous the player, the more desirable the collectible. Since this glass depicts historic baseball icon Jackie Robinson, it usually sells higher than similar milk glass examples featuring other players.
This piece depicts the hitting stance of legendary Robinson on the front of the glass with a facsimile signature and the words "Champion of Baseball" on the back.
- Condition: Near mint with no chipping or wear
- Size: 5 inches tall
- Selling Price: $240 (Morphy Auctions, 2011)
This Jackie Robinson glass commanded a nice price in 2011 and maintains the same value on online auction sites in 2019.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Fenton Daisy and Button Hat
Delicate and tiny, at 2 or 3 inches in height, this Fenton molded-glass top hat is a fun find. They are sometimes sold as toothpick holders, bud vases, or "whimsies." Fenton is best known for producing glassware in transparent colors and iridescent carnival glass. But, since milk glass was popular at the time, Fenton also fashioned its fine glassware in milk glass.
This milk glass top hat was made using a Daisy Button pattern of starbursts. If you are looking for an authentic Fenton, look out for top hat designs that were copied by other glass manufacturers around that time. If the item has imperfections in the glass such as bubbles, manufacturing flaws, or pontil marks (round circles at the bottom of the piece where the rod held it), then it is highly unlikely that the item is a Fenton. Fenton is known for its flawless glass. Also, most of its glassware items were created using snap rings to hold it during manufacturing and not punty rods, which made the pontil marks.
- Selling Price: $15 (eBay, 2006)
- Size: 3-inches tall
In 2019, the milk glass top hats continue to sell for around the 2006 selling price of $15. If you are looking to make a bigger profit, Fenton top hats in iridescent colored glass or opaque colors tend to fetch twice as much as milk glass.Continue to 6 of 11 below.
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Indiana Harvest Grape Tumbler
Drinking glasses are also called tumblers among glassware enthusiasts. This particular piece was made by the Indiana Glass Company in the Harvest Grape pattern (also called Harvest Colony pattern) in the 1950s. This pattern is also called Colony Harvest. These glasses can often be found as a full set with six to eight tumblers and sometimes with a matching pitcher.
The Indiana Glass Company was founded in 1897 under another name in Dunkirk, Indiana. It changed its name several times, but for more than a century in Dunkirk, it manufactured everything from iridescent carnival glass to Depression-style tumblers, goblets, and plates in milk glass.
- Selling Price: $6 (eBay, 2006)
In 2019, the sale price on a single tumbler of this pattern has gone down to about $2 per glass. If you can find a full set in excellent condition, you might expect to pay around $25. In the past, a full set including the pitcher might sell for $75 to $100, but now the selling price is about $40 on eBay.Continue to 7 of 11 below.
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Westmoreland Dolphin Compote With Matching Candlesticks
Whenever a matching set is kept together, usually the value—both aesthetically and monetarily—increases. This matched seashell-footed compote bowl and candleholder set was made by Westmoreland glass and features classical dolphins (which actually look more like fish). This midcentury set is akin to glass console sets with low bowls that were popular during the Depression.
Since the 1920s, Westmoreland had been considered one of the top producers of fine quality milk glass in the United States. Milk glass was the most remarkable and prolific of the products that Westmoreland manufactured.
- Selling Price: $50 (Austin Antique Mall, 2008)
In 2019, a seemingly similar matching set fetched a $65 selling price. It is not uncommon to see sellers listing a similar matching set for up to $250.Continue to 8 of 11 below.
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Westmoreland Ivy Ball
A magnificent conversation piece, these Westmoreland glass balls are very popular among collectors. They have a specific purpose—growing ivy plants. You fill the cavity of the ball with water and place ivy cuttings through the grooved opening at the top. Then, the ivy grows around the ball in a topiary fashion.
These were made in a variety of different types of glass and by many different glass companies during the 1940s and 1950s.
- Selling Price: $8 (eBay, 2008)
- Size: 3 1/2 inches in diameter and 6 inches tall
Since this particular piece sold in 2008, the ivy balls have risen in popularity among collectors. More recent listings show that their value has gone up to about $35.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Westmoreland Owl Toothpick Holder
Figured toothpick holders like this Westmoreland owl piece were popular during the midcentury period. Many glassware manufacturers made them in a wide variety of colors, including transparent and semi-opaque green and blue glass.
- Selling Price: $15 (eBay, 2008)
- Size: 3 inches tall, just over 2 inches wide
Milk glass owl toothpick holders seem to be holding steady on their value with many continuing to sell for $10 to $15 in 2019.Continue to 10 of 11 below.
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Westmoreland Beaded Grape Covered Square Dish
Covered dishes or compotes were popular in the 1950s and 1960s. They were made by many manufacturers in an array of colors. This pattern is similar to Westmoreland's Paneled Grape but with beaded edges.
This Westmoreland piece has a slightly taller foot and a squared bowl. Most milk glass compote bowls that you can see for sale are lower to the table and have a rectangular dish shape.
- Selling Price: $20 (eBay, 2006)
In 2019, the value of footed milk glass compotes remains in the $20 to $30 range. Yet, it is not uncommon to find them sometimes lower than that.Continue to 11 of 11 below.
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Ranger Joe Milk Glass Cereal Bowl Set
This children's cereal bowl and drinking cup set from the 1950s includes a Ranger Joe Ranch Mug and Ranger Joe Round-Up Bowl with red lettering. Although it is often labeled as milk glass, this is actually a Hazel Atlas platonite set. You can also find these Ranger Joe sets with blue lettering.
- Condition: Excellent with minor wear to the red lettering
- Size: Bowl 5 inches in diameter
- Selling Price: $12 (Morphy Auctions, 2013)
Online sales in 2019 show similar asking and selling prices. Sometimes you can find a single piece from this set selling for $10.