Fenton glass, named such due to its creation by the Fenton Art Glass Company, is known for its colors and hand-painted designs. Fenton glass was manufactured from 1905 to 2011, and much of the original glassware can be found with antique collectors. But how can you tell if a piece is a Fenton?
Fenton glass is identifiable by a sticker, a mark, or an oval with an “F” or “Fenton”, depending on when it was made. Fenton was a high-end manufacturer, therefore, their glassware does not contain any defects or imperfections. Ruffle designs and impressive milk glass pieces could be rare Fentons.
Not all Fenton glassware is marked, and sometimes the stickers have been removed or lost with time, so how do you identify unmarked Fenton glass? Here are some other identifying characteristics of Fenton glass to help make your collecting journey easier.
How to Tell Real Fenton Glass
Before 1970, Fenton glass was marked by oval stickers on the bottom of the glass. While many of these stickers have fallen off nowadays, it is still worthwhile to check the bottom of your pieces in case you can be 100% sure you have a Fenton. The stickers are oval foil stickers and sometimes have scalloped edges. For a full guide to Fenton sticker labels over time, check out this wonderful guide from the Stretch Glass Society.
After 1970, Fenton started to stamp the Fenton logo into their glassware. Most of the pieces they stamped were their carnival glass pieces and the hobnail glassware that Fenton is known for. This mark is another oval, like the stickers, but a more faint indentation. It might be hard to see, but a small oval marking could mean you’ve found a valuable Fenton.
Fenton had another system in order to mark their seconds. Seconds, or pieces with small blemishes or defects, were marked with a flame or a star on the bottom of the piece. This shows that they are less valuable, but are still highly collectible. In 1998, they changed to a mark of a block “F” to denote seconds.
The best resource for identifying Fenton glass is the Fenton Glassware Catalogue. By comparing pieces you find in the catalog to ones in real life, you may find similarities in style or characteristics that Fentons share. Ruffles were common in Fenton glass, so it is great to look out for this style in your search.
Is Fenton Always Marked?
Most Fenton Glass is marked, however, the older it is, the more likely the glass is to have lost its sticker if it was from before 1970. Some pressed marks might also be hard to see, or the glass may have been damaged over time. It is not guaranteed that any glassware without a mark cannot be a Fenton piece. If you are entirely unsure, it might be worthwhile to check with an expert in antiques and glassware.
What Style Is Fenton Glass?
Fenton glass does not have just one style. Fenton glass is known for its unusual colors and patterns due to the innovation of its creator Frank Fenton. Because of Frank Fenton’s desire to create and innovate, he invented many new patterns and colors of his own design. One of these most popular inventions was chocolate glass.
Chocolate glass was created and produced from 1907 to around 1910. During this time, Fenton created an assortment of one-of-a-kind pieces as well as different types of chocolate glass. These different colors were called caramel, milky cocoa, and mocha.
Fenton also produced carnival glass, originally called “Iridill” from 1907/1908 through the late 1920s.
In 1921, Fenton started mainly creating “stretch” glass, which was simple iridescent glass pieces that appealed to the public’s interests at the time. However, Fenton did not stop inventing. Celestial Blue was a very popular invention of his throughout the 1920s. Many pieces were made in this color and continue to be sought after by collectors to this day.
Some other inventions of Fenton include cranberry glass, spiral optic, crested ware, and in the mid-1930s, their widely known design “hobnail” was created and started to take off in popularity.
Pieces in the hobnail design continue to be one of the most sought-after types of Fenton glass. It is categorized as a style with raised knobs surrounding the glass. Its name comes from the hobnails that sometimes stud shoes. Almost every Fenton design was made in hobnail milk glass due to its immediate popularity since the start of its production in 1950.
Spiral optic glassware was a unique style of Fenton glass with curved stripes going up the sides of the pieces. It was made in many colors, including cranberry—another one of Fenton’s creations.
How Can You Tell How Old Fenton Glass Is?
You can usually tell how old a piece of Fenton glassware is by its type of identification marking. Before 1970, all pieces were marked by a sticker. After 1970, some were imprinted with the company’s logo. A cursive “F” in an oval could also be an indication of a Fenton piece. This mark shows that the mold used was not an original Fenton mold but owned by another company. This mark started being used around 1983.
You can also approximate how old a Fenton piece is based on when the company started making that mold or color. The history of Fenton is heavily recorded, and it is easy to find out when Fenton changed a mold or design or invented a new color. By approximating the age by studying the history of the Fenton Glass Company and its designs, you can have a rough idea of how old your glass is.
Does Fenton Glass Have Seams?
Some Fenton glass will have seams. Pressed glass has seams while blown glass does not. Fenton both pressed and blew their glass, so a seam line does neither confirm nor deny if a piece was made by Fenton or not.
A pontil mark is a mark that some glass gets when being held by a punty rod. This marking would not be found on a Fenton piece because, during manufacturing, the glass is held by snap rings instead. The only Fenton pieces that would have a pontil mark are a few extremely rare pieces from the 1920s time or rare hand-blown pieces from collections.