One of the lesser-known pieces produced by Fenton Glass, Fenton cats are prized collectors’ items. Fenton is typically known for their hobnail glass designs, custard glass, milk glass, and carnival glass pieces, but the uniqueness of Fenton cats sets them apart from other glass cats, such as those by neighboring glassmaker Blenko. There are two types of Fenton cats: alley cats and other varieties of cats.
Fenton cats vary in price depending on the design—year produced doesn’t seem to be as much of a factor in terms of price. The painted Fenton cats range from roughly $20 USD to $350 USD and Fenton alley cats can range from roughly $90 USD to $300 USD or more. Factors to consider when pricing include the uniqueness of the color/design and condition.
Read on to learn more about the history and valuation of different vintage Fenton glass cats, as well as images of various Fenton cat varieties with their values.
Where Did the Fenton Alley Cats Originate?
When it comes to the winking alley cat design, Fenton was not always the producer of alley cats. They were first produced by United States Glass Company (or Tiffin Glass Company) under the name Sassy Susie (Source). U.S. Glass Company, located in Tiffin, Ohio, began producing the cats in the early 1920s (Source).
These cats were made from a mold that was created by Reuben and Kenneth Haley who were father and son. Fenton began producing the cats in 1970 when they acquired the mold from U.S. Glass Company/Tiffin Glass in the mid-1960s.
Fenton also produces other types of cats, often with painted on features. These cats vary in design, color, and size. Fenton began producing the cats with painted features in the 1960’s. The Fenton logo started being featured on the cats in 1973 (Source).
Identifying Fenton Cat Varieties
Fenton produced various types of cats: a variety of stylized cats and alley cats. Alley cats are identified by their height of roughly 11 inches (28 centimeters) and feature an elongated neck, exaggerated grin, and come in multiple colors.
Besides the winking alley cat, the painted cats are known by various names:
The Fenton Burmese cat is approximately 4” (10 cm) tall and is depicted sitting upright and gazing into the distance.
The Fenton Curious Cat, also known as the Snobby Cat, is roughly the same size and holds its nose in the air.
The Fenton Playing Cat (or playful cat) is smaller than these. At 3”(7.5 cm), this cat is in an elongated pose and appears to be in a playful mood.
Fenton Stylized Cat is a Siamese cat that is much taller (roughly 5” or 13 cm) and comes in a variety of colors and styles.
The Fenton Grooming Cat is about 4” (10 cm)tall and is shown sitting upright and grooming his paw. The Fenton Sleeping Cat is, in fact, a cat depicted in a sleeping pose. This cat is roughly 3.5” (8 cm) inches long.
The Fenton Kitten (or Standing Kitten) is about 4” (10 cm) long and is either standing or lying down depending on the version.
Cat in a Bag is especially cute. It is a QVC exclusive and is featured peeking out of a bag, roughly 3.5” (8 cm) inches tall. QVC also featured various designs of Fenton cats exclusive to the company, but these are no longer being sold.
The birthstone cats (also known as Calendar Cats) are typically depicted sitting upright and in are opaque or iridescent opaque white glass. They feature twelve different designs for each month with a collar of jewels in the birthstone color of choice.
The painted and birthstone cats seem to be easiest to find for purchase online.
How Much Are Fenton Cats Worth?
It seems that the worth of Fenton cats depends on the colors, design, and unique qualities more than the year produced. Fenton cats that are more elaborate are typically worth more than cats that are found in common colors and do not have much additional features painted or included.
Fenton cats are worth more if they are an anniversary piece or unique in some other aspect. The age of the cat does not seem to matter. Fenton cats are also worth more if they come in an original box or original packaging.
Regardless of the design of cat, it seems they range in price due to quality and uniqueness more than age.
How Much Are Sassy Susie Cats Worth?
The original sassy susie alley cats produced by U.S. Glass Co and Tiffin Glass Co are typically worth between $150 – $350. These cats are not marked and were produced from 1924 to 1934 (Source). Due to their age, it is rare that they are found in near-mint condition.
They were produced in limited colors: black satin with enamel on face, black satin without enamel on face, black gloss, milk glass, and a two-toned version with milk glass on the top and black glass on the bottom.
These are the rarest cats available for sale online. As of this time, eBay does not even feature a single listing, although some have sold in the past.
Given the age of these cats and the limited production years, they are a very rare find at nearly one-hundred years old. If you find one anywhere, snatch it up while you can! These cats are sure to increase in worth as the years pass.
To see recently sold Sassy Susie cats or Fenton Cats and their prices, check out Worthpoint.
Are Fenton Cats Still Being Produced?
Sadly, these cats are no longer being produced, making them valuable collectors’ items. Fenton glass ceased operations at their Williamstown, West Virginia factory. An Ohio glassmaker who has the Fenton molds now produces certain glass items with the Fenton stamp. The Williamstown, West Virginia gift shop that is located on the old factory premises sells the new Ohio-made pieces and sells art glass beads.
However, some sources on the web claim that the gift shop has already closed or will be closing to the public soon. There is not any current information about the glass cats on the Fenton website. The website appears as though it is no longer updated.
Where to Find Fenton Cats
If you are looking for Fenton cat collectibles, the best place to begin is with a search on an online auction website such as eBay. Other resources include collectables sites such as 1st Dibs, specific glass collectables sales sites, or Etsy. I have been able to find these cats from all these sites. You can also visit estate sales and antique shops in search of cats. Yard sales are always a good place to try as you never know what you might find.