If you were around in the mid 1900s, you might remember glassware adorned in many colors and patterns. This glassware, called Depression glass, was made during the 1920s and 30s in the United States and Canada. The Great Depression was a time of poverty and struggle for Americans, which made it even more important to find little things that brought joy. One of these was Depression glass, a colorful and lovely distraction from day to day life.
What Is Depression Glass?
This translucent glassware was distributed throughout North America during the Great Depression, which is how it earned its name. Depression glass was more than just pretty- it was used as an incentive to buy products. Many food manufacturers would put a piece of glassware in boxes of food as an extra perk of buying. Movie theaters, gas stations and businesses also handed out this colorful glass to patrons during the recession.
In this way, Depression glass helped the American economy out in the small way that it could. The majority of this beloved glassware was created in the Ohio River Valley, where manufacturing was inexpensive due to access to materials. There were over twenty glass manufacturers, some of the most popular being Federal Glass, Anchor Hocking Glass Company, Hazel-Atlas Glass Company and Macbeth-Evans Glass Company.
Depression glass was created in over 100 patterns, which was part of its charm. Each new glass piece was a unique addition to one's glassware collection. Entire dinner sets were created in some patterns! Some of the most common colors are pink, pale blue, green and amber, the most popular colors being pink, cobalt blue, and green. Rarer colors are yellow, ultramarine, jadeite (pale green), delphite (pale blue), cobalt blue, amethyst, monax and milk glass.
There are also a large variety of Depression glass patterns, each of which is beautiful and distinctive. Some of the most popular patterns are Cameo, Mayfair, American Sweetheart, Princess, and Royal Lace. Their names show nostalgia for the luxury and carefree way of life enjoyed during the 1920's.
There were also sub-categories of Depression Glass, such as Elegant glass. This was of better quality than the mass-produced varieties, featuring polished mold seams and handmade patterns. Elegant glass manufacturers like Heisey Glass Company worked to create classy and high-quality glassware that stood apart from more common kinds.
Collecting Depression Glass
The Depression era greatly affected the psyche of all who survived it, and this could be why this lovely glassware is remembered so fondly by Americans as a spark of joy in a dark period of history. Although most Depression glass stopped being created in the 1940s, this distinctive tableware has been highly collectible since the 60s, and rare pieces can sell for several hundred dollars in the modern day!
Some glass manufacturers created popular patterns after World War II, which also became popular collectibles. The most popular varieties for current collectors are green depression glass and pink depression glass, which you can find on eBay or depression-glass.com. This beautiful glassware was a source of happiness during the Great Depression, and it lives on many Americans' memories and in the homes of dedicated collectors!