What is Federal Glass?

People everywhere enjoy having nice dishware to be able to savor tantalizing dishes and drinks, especially the older generation. Having just a singular glass dish can help us feel well-off and many companies have produced items to extend that feeling to everyone. In the early 1900s, there were a few companies that led the way in high-end home dishware, and one such company was Federal Glass.

Federal Glass is vintage glassware and dishware produced by the Federal Glass Company between 1900 and 1979. Vintage Federal Glass became a staple in many American homes, especially during the Depression Era.

Federal Glass Company produced glassware that promoted happy feelings of normalcy during times of great poverty, fear, and war. This vintage glassware has become a staple of the 1900’s American family, a sign of heritage and peace. But there is much more we can learn about Federal Glass.

Federal Glass Company 1960s Clear with Gold Pitcher and Glassware – $75 from PinkElephantLTD on Etsy

The History of Federal Glass

Federal Glass was opened in Columbus, Ohio in 1900. The founders of the company were George and Robert G. Beatty, who had previous experience in making glassware. When the company first began, the owners didn’t have the same technology available to them that is available currently.

So, the company prided itself on creating glassware through molds, glass blowing, and etching. Federal glass mostly produced tumblers, jars, and bottles early on but transitioned to producing more dishware for homes and restaurants later on. (Source)

As soon as the technology became available, they switched to automation to mass-produce high-quality glass at a cheaper price. (Source)

Pink Federal Glass Sharon Cabbage Rose Footed Cream & Sugar Set - Pink Depression Glass
Pink Federal Glass Sharon Cabbage Rose Footed Cream & Sugar Set – Pink Depression Glass – $40 from NashvilleTradingCo on Etsy

They quickly found success. Glass was a huge deal in America at this time period as it was a sign of financial stability and a social symbol. So, the second that glass became more affordable was the second that Federal Glass began to make a big profit.

By the time it was the 1930s heading into the 40s, they became one of the top producers of glass in the country. Federal Glass made colored “depression glass” pieces that blew away the consumers.

Federal Glass Company Depression Glass Madrid Pattern in Amber - 6 Piece Set for $20
Federal Glass Company Depression Glass Madrid Pattern in Amber – 6 Piece Set for $20

Federal Glass became a worldwide known company for glassware for households, restaurants, and other businesses. It was eventually bought by a company called the Federal Paper Board Company and the Federal Glass Division continued to produce glassware until it was late into the late 1970s when it was shut down. Federal Glass officially went out of business and shut its doors on January 31st, 1979.

Items Federal Glass Made

During Federal Glass’ time of operation, they produced a high variety of glassware types and patterns that are still being used today!

In the earliest years of the company, it did not produce a variety of products. In 1901, the company only advertised glass tumblers, or what we would know today as a tall and simple drinking container with no handle nicknamed a “tall glass”. A few years later, the company began to produce bottles and jars as well. (Source)

By 1914, the Federal Glass company had a large catalog of design options for different household items. Some of these items included salt and pepper shakers, goblets, measuring containers, and many others.

In the 1920s, Federal Glass Company began producing colored glassware using automated glass-making equipment. Colorful “depression glass” pieces became extremely popular in America from the late 1920s into the early 1940s.

Federal Glass Company #30 Twisted Optic Depression Green Uranium Glass Goblet
Federal Glass Company #30 Twisted Optic Depression Green Uranium Glass Goblet – $11.99 from *crs* on Ebay

More information on Federal Glass depression glass patterns and colors here.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Federal Glass produced some fun Mid-Century Modern dishes and barware that’s sought after by MCM collectors still today.

One of the more unique objects that Federal Glass made were heatproof glass sets that had gold decoration and gold leaf accents. (Source)

Federal GOLDEN GLORY 7 3/4" SALAD PLATES Bamboo HEAT PROOF Milk Glass Set of 8
Federal GOLDEN GLORY 7 3/4″ SALAD PLATES Bamboo HEAT PROOF Milk Glass Set of 8 – Sold for $20 from thelatelydeal on Ebay

Is Federal glass the same as Depression glass?

Federal Glass is not the same thing as Depression Glass. Federal Glass DID make many Depression Glass pieces during the Depression Era, but they also made many other types of glass from 1900 – 1979.

Depression Glass simply refers to glass made in the Depression Era of the 1920s through the early 1940s. So while Federal Glass Company was a prolific producer of Depression Glass, the terms “Federal Glass” and “Depression Glass” are not synonymous.

Did Federal Glass Company Make Uranium Glass?

Federal Glass Company did produce uranium glass. Almost any green-colored glass produced in the Depression Era contained small amounts of uranium for coloring purposes and will glow green under a black light. Since many of the patterns that Federal Glass produced in the Depression Era were made in green, these pieces can also be considered uranium glass.

How Much Does Federal Glass Cost Now?

Federal Glass was made and produced cheaply enough to be purchased by the average American. However, with time, the patterns, colors, designs, and historical meaning behind the dishes have elevated their worth in the eyes of collectors and other interested individuals.

Most Federal Glass pieces sell for between $7 – $20. However, there are some pieces or sets in rarer patterns and colors that can sell for over $100 and a very rare few that have sold for over $1,000. For more information on current pricing, check out our article on Federal Glass Valuation.

Vintage Federal Glass Clear Glass Cup F Shield Hallmark c1901
Vintage Federal Glass Clear Glass Cup F Shield Hallmark c1901 – Sold for $23.19 from binobo on Ebay

How Someone Can Tell if a Glass Dish is from Federal Glass

If a piece of glass has Federal’s logo of a capital letter “F” within a shield, then it is a Federal Glass piece. However, many of Federal Glass Company’s items did not include a maker’s mark.

If a glass item is unmarked, then the next way to identify it would be by the pattern nd color. There are many unique patterns that Federal Glass designed and created, like the “Park Avenue” design that was made between 1941-1970.

5 Piece Salad or Dessert Set in Park Avenue by Federal Glass – $40 from GlitteryGranny on Etsy

However, other companies bought the molds after they closed. One of the companies that bought the molds is Indiana Glass. This means that pattern alone cannot possibly be a conclusive way to decide if a glass item is authentic.

Wear and tear are an easy way to identify whether a dish is real or not. This is because Federal Glass pieces range between 50 and 120 years old. Dishes are bound to get a few scratches or dings with time. Of course, an individual might strongly value and want to find a high-quality antique, but a little wear and tear add character!

Vintage Federal Glass Polka Dot Mixing Bowl Set
Vintage Federal Glass Polka Dot Mixing Bowl Set $143.73 from PrairiePicker on Etsy

Another prominent indicator of whether a glass dish is authentic is the presence of a glass seam in it. Many of the items they made relied strongly on molds. The molds would produce half of a dish. Once the company had two halves created, they would proceed to fuse them together. The fusion would not be seamless, thus almost all dishes produced by Federal Glass will have a seamline.

Check out our Federal Glass Identification and Valuation Guide for more information.

Overall, Federal Glass is a wonderful company that previously produced some amazing quality glassware. The unique patterns, colors, and styles have won the hearts of many in the past, the present, and possibly the future.

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