Fenton Glass History
The original factory was in an old glass factory in Martins Ferry, Ohio in 1905. The factory at one time was owned by the old West Virginia Glass Company. At first they painted glass blanks from other glass makers, but started making their own glass when they became unable to buy the materials they needed. They moved across the Ohio river to Williamstown, West Virginia, and built a factory in 1906. The first year for glass production was 1907. In 1908 John Fenton left the company and founded the Millersburg glass company in Millersburg, OH.
Frank Fenton was the designer and decorator. From 1905 to 1920, the designs made there were heavily influenced by two other glass companies: Tiffany and Steuben. But the many different colors were the work of Jacob Rosenthal, a famous glass chemist who is known for developing chocolate and golden agate glass. Towards the end of 1907, the Fenton brothers were the first to introduce carnival glass, which later became a popular collector’s item.
During the Great Depression and World War 2, Fenton produced practical items (such as mixing bowls and tableware) due to shortages. At the same time, they continued creating new colors. Towards the end of the Great Depression they also produced perfume bottles for the Wrisley Company in 1938. The bottles were made in French opalescent glass with the hobnail pattern.
In 1940, Fenton started selling Hobnail items in French Opalescent, Green Opalescent and Cranberry Opalescent. The Hobnail pattern glass would become the top-selling line and allowed the Fenton company to exist during WWII and to expand after the war.
In the late 1940s, the top three members of Fenton’s management died. Frank Fenton and Wilmer C. “Bill” Fenton immediately stepped in and took over the positions of President and Vice President, respectively. Over the next thirty years, they continued to expand Fenton Art Glass, despite a large number of glass factories closing down.
In 1986, George W. Fenton, Frank’s son, took over as President of the company. Fenton did not apply any marks until 1970, They also had runs of some beautiful carnival glass bowls. (see photo below)Some of the patterns used on items produced by Fenton were:
|Cherry Chain||Distinguished by groups of cherries in a circular pattern.|
|Coin Dot||1947, 1952–54, 1956–64||A pattern made by using opalescent glass that was a copy the Polka Dot Victorian pattern.|
|Dragon and Lotus||This pattern is possibly available in more colors than other patterns.|
|Hobnail||An even arrangement of bumps similar to that found on the bottom parts of hobnail boots.|
|Open Edge||Also referred to as Basket weave. The pattern is on the outside of the bowl, basket, or plate and the edge has two rows of holes around it. Three rows of holes were also made.|
|Panther||This is an interior pattern showing two large cats, the outside pattern is Butterfly and Berry. All pieces have balled feet.|
|Persian Medallion||Embroidered medallions in a ring. Used on plates, bowls, and bonbons.|
Fenton Marigold Carnival Bowls
Marigold-colored autumn acorns bowls were made by Fenton, which is one of the most prolific names in American glassware. Marigold is one of the most common carnival glass colors.
Fenton’s carnival glass was first marketed as the “golden sunset iridescent assortment” in catalogs. In 1907 when these pieces first sold, they cost 85 cents. A Fenton autumn acorns bowl averages for about $65. You can find some selling for as much as $150. Earlier Fenton specimens, up through 1920, can fetch a high price.
The rage for carnival glass in the United States continued for 10 years (1908 to about 1918). When the market for carnival glass slumped in the 1920s, the lower-quality carnival glass was given away as prizes at carnivals.
Fenton Smooth Rays with Scale Band Marigold Bowl 9″
Fenton Butterflies Bonbon Dish
This Fenton marigold-colored bonbon dish was made in the butterfly pattern. In 2006, it sold in the $28 to $32 range. This collectible sells for about the same price in 2018. If the piece is never used and in mint condition, then the cost mounts.