This week with so much going on in all our lives right now, it was hard coming up with just a single subject. With the world crisis and our own nation in its own crisis, it definitely is a time of thinking and praying. I walked around my apartment and finally looked at my sweet blue glass Fenton Angel that a dear friend had given me when I lost my mother in 2013. I decided that maybe Fenton collectible glassware might be a beautiful subject for my “Trash & Treasures” article this week because of the critical times ahead, and the times we are actually facing and going through right now.
I have always tried to come up with subject material that might be interesting for all ages, and men or women. Fenton glassware is a beautiful collectible and is actually considered to be a true antique, as many of the figurines were made in the early 1900s.
Correct dates of Fenton history: Fenton Art Glass Company was probably one of the largest glass companies ever. It was founded in 1905 and was discontinued in 2011. But let me explain that the company or factory property was not sold until 2017 per internet information I was able to find at this time. Fenton glassware was made in their factory in Williamstown, West Virginia, beginning in 1907. Between 1905 and 1907, Fenton actually painted decorations on glassware other than their own — and then they started their own glassware factory in 1907.
Fenton was (and is yet today) known for their beautiful glassware. In their earlier days of producing fine glass, they were considered to be in high regard for their beautiful wares. They were inspired by glassmakers such as Tiffany and Steuben for the first few decades.
During the Depression Era and the World War II years, Fenton was able to produce what we might call “more practical” glassware. Perfume bottles were a large part of their industry through the war years — many soldiers buying pieces for their loved ones at home — but even fine bowls were being produced as well. Then in the late 1940s, Fenton seemed to keep growing for the next 30 years and was a very prosperous business. They made so many beautiful pieces that were collected then and even now, and after the closing of the factory in 2011 when production came to a standstill, Fenton was still being sought by collectors. Today, it is definitely high on collectors’ lists and even the later produced pieces are being hunted to this day.
Many people collect by category or color, or maybe even artistry or definition. I do believe that everyone who has collected some form of art glass has probably bought a piece or two of Fenton. The quality and variety of their glassware seem to make every glass collector possibly purchase a few pieces to add to their collections somewhere down the line.
This beautiful Fenton iridescent blue glass praying angel is just one example of the many pieces that the Fenton Art Glass Co. made through 1905 to the 2011 closing date of their factory. (To clarify, these angels were made in the late 1990s through their closing days.) 2011 was a sad time for the many workers they had in their factory as well as for the collectors who would watch for the next beautiful molded glass figurine or vase or teddy bear or bowl produced by Fenton. Times change. Collectible and antique wants are changing practically on a daily basis nowadays; but, we need to be reminded that once quality items are discontinued from certain factories, more than likely that same “quality” will be lost on future makers. Our younger generations are not collecting as some of us older ones have done in the past. But, again, time changes a lot of wants and desires and, sometimes, the demand becomes even bigger or more demanding for quality items to be made once again.
I have a few other pieces of Fenton glassware — in their carnival glass collections, Fenton glass bowls with beautiful grapes and berries of all kinds with a classy looking “cable” pattern running around the footed centerpiece bowl, a piece which will catch any collector’s eye. Naturally, anytime a factory closes their doors, there usually will be a large hunt on for finding favorite pieces on estate auctions and online sales.
Fenton Art Glass is hunted online, at auctions, antique shops and yard sales. You need to watch for the “Fenton” paper label or the impressed name on the bottom of many collectible pieces. And, please remember that many pieces could be considered as true “antique” items; plus, if in mint condition, they may bring extreme prices at the right auction.
Vintage art glass is practically a category of its own, actually. People collect glass work from so many different makers. Thanks to our online shops and shoppers as well as advertising in magazines and newspapers, our collectors are able to look across the nation as well as beyond the oceans. It is a buyer’s market today and, hopefully, it will continue to be once the virus contagion period is stopped.
My beautiful blue glass Fenton hand decorated angel sits on my dry sink where I have photos of my parents and my niece (and now my beautiful friend who passed away two years after my mother did). Every time I look at her, memories rush in and remind me of better days — they are called “lifetimes” and we all have one.
Prayers for our nation and our world — and may we be reminded of years past and the many “good” years we have had. As my glass angel reminds me of many memories and awesome family times, I am so thankful for my family and friends today and may we all be reminded to say “thanks” for what we have today, have had in the past, and hopefully will receive in the future. Our gifts from friends are special treasures and all have special meanings to each and every one of us. Telling the story somehow seems to help us get through the tough times and reminds us that better times are on their way.
As most of you already know, my “What’s it Worth” antique classes have been postponed until further notice. But, I am hoping to see a bunch of you very soon when things will calm down and we have a safer world once again. Prayers for everyone. Stay well. Be safe. And thank you for reading my article today.