Blue Carnival Glass

Carnival glass was created to try to spark consumer interest in buying new glass table settings during the Great Depression. Gas stations and theaters gave away some of the smaller pieces, and the glass manufacturers and their retail outlets in town hoped the sample would make the woman of the house part with some of her discretionary cash for other pieces to match. And to some extent it worked, as the amount of this type of glass made at the time and the amount still available to collect can attest to.  They worked especially well in times when art deco lamps were really coming into their own as well.

Carnival glass was made in many countries by many glass houses. They used the same molds they were using for their regular glass products, but used strongly colored glass as the base for carnival glass. As the piece came out of the mold, metallic salts were strewn across the piece as it headed for the lehr. The metallic salts turned into an iridescent finish on the glass, making the glass eye-catching and impressive when displayed under bright lights in carnival game booths.

Blue carnival glass is in some ways the prettiest. The dark base color makes the oil-slick sheen show up especially well. It is not subtle, as the amber colored glass can be. It is ‘LOOK-AT-ME’ colorful. Both the plates and bowls of the place setting and the serving pieces really show up on a white table cloth. Or a set of a glass water decanter and tumblers displayed on a silver try on the buffet show why this form of glass is collected.

Determining the base color of glass requires turning it over and finding a place where the metallic salts are thin or missing. By holding the piece up to the light so you can see through this unsalted area, you can determine the base color. You cannot assume dark glass is blue,as there are dark green and dark purple glass base pieces as well.

Carnival glass, once considered tacky and disposable, is now a bona fide collectible. Check the curio cabinets in your family and see if there are some pieces already at hand.

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