When pink Depression glass hit the market in the early 1930s, a bevy of names described the color: Cheri-Glo, flamingo, rose glow, rose tint, and wild rose. Obtained via premiums in cereal boxes, purchased in dime stores, and given away as prizes in movie theaters, the colorful glass brightened the lives of homemakers facing harsh economic times. Today, this glass with its sunset-pink hue attracts savvy collectors and flea market vendors.
Deciphering the Patterns
Depression glass comes in an array of collectible patterns including Tea Room, Princess, Royal Lace, Mayfair, and American Sweetheart. But these sought-after patterns are difficult to find in pair, or as a set. Even certain pieces themselves, like the Sierra-Adam butter dish, are next to impossible to find at a fair price. So, modern collectors follow the contemporary philosophy of mixing patterns. Because, if you can’t afford a rare piece to complete your set, an easy substitute in another pattern works just fine.
The Sierra-Adam butter dish—the Holy Grail of Depression glass collectibles—features two popular designs. The Adam design incorporates the depiction of feathers into the pinwheel style of the Sierra pattern, both produced by Jeanette Glass Company. Most educated glass dealers price this piece at more than 500 dollars, but a traditional Depression glass butter dish, featuring only the Adam design, comes in at much less.
Miss America, with its raised diamond pattern, and Mayfair’s open rose design were both manufactured by Hocking Glass Company. They crafted traditional place settings, including dinner plates, cup and saucer sets, and elaborate vases and candy dishes. The Mayfair three-legged console bowl and the Miss America divided relish dish are both rare pieces that can run into the thousands of dollars if you can locate one.
American Sweetheart, made by MacBeth-Evans Glass Company, offers a more delicate shade of pink compared to the other Depression glass patterns. The number of pieces found in the American Sweetheart style is limited, however. Still, place settings and all the essential serving pieces were constructed in this pattern to provide more-than-adequate dinner service. And while most collectors long for a pitcher or salt and pepper pair to complete American Sweetheart sets, they aren’t willing to make the monetary sacrifice which can be upwards of 750 dollars.
Federal Glass Company’s Sharon pattern—also referred to it as Cabbage Rose—is the most affordable Depression glass design. It has a chunkier look when compared with the delicateness of the Mayfair or American Sweetheart designs, but it is reasonably priced and easier to locate in a complete set.
While a number of patterns—Cherry Blossom and Madrid being the most conspicuous—have been heavily reproduced in pink glass, other patterns only have one or two items that have been reissued, making it easy to keep track of what to avoid.
In the Adam pattern, for instance, the butter dish is the only piece reproduced in this design. However, reproductions in Mayfair, Miss America, and Sharon are more plentiful, making them harder to distinguish from the old pieces. Look for variations in color and a slick feel to the glass. New reproductions will also vary in size, distinctive mold lines, and subtle disparities.
Very few antique pieces of Depression glass will look brand new, showing no wear at the base. So, a lack of wear can be a telltale sign of authenticity. Research which pieces have been reproduced in your sought-after pattern before you shop.
Snagging a Bargain
When sourcing pink Depression glass at bargain prices, the more plentiful pieces and less popular patterns offer the most promise. Common items like cups and saucers, bread and butter plates, and sherbet dishes can usually be found at a reasonable price.
Many times no-name Depression glass patterns can be found on the cheap, as well. Cream and sugar sets in pink, with a simple wheel etching, can be readily located for mere dollars. The same set in one of the collectible patterns can cost three to five times as much. You can also find these no-name items more readily in online auction listings, going for far less than you might expect. Do a keyword search for “pink Depression glass” to bring up hundreds of items, many of them offering bargain potential.
You can also visit glass shows for competitive pricing and a superb selection. Be a diligent shopper to find the best deals, and don't forget to haggle for a better price, when appropriate.
Decorating with Pink Depression Glass
Spruce up traditional place settings by using pink Depression glass tumblers, cup and saucer sets, or serving pieces paired with China. This table-setting technique will also break up the monotony of a contemporary matching dinner set.
You can also display rare pieces—like impressive vases or lidded candy dishes—throughout your home. Don’t be afraid to actually use your vases to hold fresh flowers, too. But, be sure to change the water daily and never let the water evaporate in the vase leaving damaging mineral deposits.
Pink Depression glass can be surprisingly versatile in bedrooms, as well. Place a small pitcher and tumbler on a bedside table for use as a water set. A console bowl filled with silk flowers looks lovely on a dresser. Or, try "wallpapering” any room of the house with plates of different shapes, patterns, and sizes for a beautiful showcase.