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The Essential Guide to Depression Glass: History, Identification, and Valuing

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The Essential Guide to Depression Glass: History, Identification, and Valuing

By: Katie Skinner.   


You might have heard of it, or maybe your parents or grandparents had them? Maybe you have never heard of it or you own some without realizing it?  After asking my own mother a few days ago and she knew about depression glass, I got so excited!  Then I realized that this glass was so common, it would be weird if she didn’t know it.  So, if this post inspires you, or makes you more curious, you could maybe just walk around asking people if they know what depression glass is!  This glass holds a lot of history, and potentially a lot of money as well, if, you know - you’re into that kind of thing :).



Depression Glass is glassware from the Great Depression era, produced in the ‘20s and ‘30s.  It’s a type of glassware that is known for having beautiful patterns embedded into it and is usually found in bright, and/or translucent colors.  These colors are gorgeous, and if I had Depression glass, I’d want a kaleidoscope of colors.  Not everyone is into those bright colors, sometimes they can be a little much, admittedly.  So, for those who don’t want to brighten up their world, there are clear pieces as well.  It’s good to remember that not all colored glass is Depression glass and not all Depression glass is colored.

Back during the Depression era, you could obtain these pieces in one of two different ways.  Depression glass was known for being very affordable and looked beautiful, so it was understandable that it was pretty popular.  Especially since it was very easy to find at the dime store, where many other household purchases came from.  If you were a thrifty spender, you could find this glass for about the same price of a loaf of bread, a nickel. Who wouldn’t want to get some glass for 5 cents?  Yay for saving money, if you’re still into it.  The other way to get the glass is getting the ‘free gift inside’ deal.  You could buy a product, or service, and get some glass thrown in for free.  It’s crazy to think that people could go get an oil change in their cars and get some glassware to take home.  In fact, this glass is sometimes referred to as “oatmeal glass” because you could buy oatmeal, and pull a piece of glass from the box, almost like a more useful prize from the Cracker Jacks box! Well, except the delicious snack mix is oatmeal.  Also, the toy/joke/whatever is useful glassware. The surprise and anticipation would be the same though, probably.  Maybe adults would get more excited about oatmeal, or spending money.

I bet a lot of people would get more excited about glassware if we still had these different and kinda random ways to get it.  It would be an adventure on trying to collect a full set from various different places. BRB, going back in time to take part in the scramble! JK.  This wasn’t a choice, but a lifestyle.  Everyone was having a difficult time, and this was how people were able to afford things. But, now that we have come back from the unfortunate economic decline, we can search for those beautiful pieces, and appreciate that we can afford to buy whatever glass that we want.  So, if you want to get this glass, you can eat off or obtain, a little piece of history, which is so cool. Someone else had memories with that particular piece, a whole different world. Crazy!


So, you’re interested in knowing how to identify Depression glass?  Awesome!

Here are a few tips and tricks to try and identify what the pattern is!

Below is a list of 16 patterns, but this isn’t the full list. This is just to help you get started, so that you don’t get overwhelmed.  Don’t worry though, there are more resources linked at the bottom of the page, so you don’t have to end your journey of discovery here! You can fall down a rabbit hole of information, with the internet and the many books published.  So, if you fall in love with this, or are just curious, don’t worry. Also, keep in mind that some of these might not actually be Depression glass, but are just regarded as so in the collectors’ community.  If you want to become a collector, then study the patterns carefully. Use caution! Reproductions happen, so it could be easy to get the wrong thing.  So just carefully check these pieces to make sure that they are the glassware that you’re trying to collect! If you are thinking of value of these pieces, remember that there are some that have damage because they were used heavily.  If you want to flip this piece and sell it, make sure that you have a quality piece!  Minimal damage, such as normal wear and tear, are fine, but if there is a lot, such as cracks or chips, maybe don’t buy that.

  1. American Sweetheart Depression Glass Pattern

The most common colors are pink and monax (this color is a sort of pearly white). There were a few produced that were in cobalt blue and a deep red. These pieces are rare to find, so subsequently they’re really valuable.

  1. Bubble Pattern Depression Glass **

These usually come in sapphire, Royal Ruby, and Forest Green.

  1. Cameo Depression Glass Pattern A.K.A "Ballerina" or "Dancing Girl"

Green is the most common color, and it’s also possible to find pink and yellow. If you’re a really savvy researcher, you could find one of the limited amounts of clear Cameos that feature a platinum rim.

  1. Cherry Blossom Depression Glass Pattern*

Pink and green are the common colors. If you don’t like the translucent colors, there are Delphite (an opaque milky blue color) and Jadite (derived from Jade, an opaque milky green color) pieces that can be found if you look for them.

  1. Doric Depression Glass Pattern

Commonly pink and green, but also made in Delphite. You can also find them in colors Ultramarine (light teal) and yellow, if you search hard enough.

  1. Holiday Depression Glass Pattern **

Usually comes in pink, but a few pieces were made in crystal and iridescent (similar to amber but not as bright).

  1. Iris Depression Glass Pattern A.K.A "Iris and Herringbone."

These only come in crystal or iridescent.

  1. Mayfair Depression Glass Pattern A.K.A "Open Rose" (by dealers)*

Most often found in pink followed by ice blue.

  1. Moderntone Depression Glass Pattern

Colbalt blue is the common color, but amethyst and Platonite (pastel and bright colors on a white glass base. Similar in style to glazing and firing a ceramic piece) was produced.

  1. Old Colony Depression Glass Pattern A.K.A "Lace Edge" and/or "Open Lace"

Pink is the main color it comes in, but there are some crystal and green pieces.

  1. Patrician Depression Glass Pattern A.K.A "Spoke" (by dealers and collectors)

Amber was the most produced color, then green, but you can also find crystal and pink.

  1. Princess Depression Glass Pattern

You can find pink and green the most often, but they also made yellow, and if you are lucky you can find it in light blue.

  1. "S" Pattern Depression Glass Pattern A.K.A "Stippled Rose Band."

This pattern is found mainly crystal in color, but there are certain pieces you can find that are yellow, amber, or red.

  1. Spiral Depression Glass Pattern A.K.A "Swirl"

Green is the most common color, but you could also find it in crystal or pink.

  1. Royal Lace Depression Glass Pattern *

Green is the most popular color, but you can also find pink and crystal. If you’re looking for value, however, cobalt blue is the color you want to find.

  1. Sharon Depression Glass Pattern A.K.A "Cabbage Rose" (by dealers and collectors) *

Pink and amber were the most produced colors, but you can find green as well.

* These are patterns that mention having reproductions, so be careful. Often, these reproductions are a different color than the original pattern, but some are not, and can be confusing!

** These patterns are not real depression glass but are considered as such in the collector’s community. The designs and colors help them be regarded as depression glass, though are produced later than the rest of the patterns.

Identification and Value

So, as previously mentioned, there are many patterns and colors that Depression glass comes in.  This could make it tricky to figure out exactly what the piece is (if it truly is Depression glass) and how much it is valued at. First step to identifying is figuring out the pattern.  To ease this process, you might want to refer to patterns and pictures. Also, tracing a silhouette of the piece on paper might help, so take the glass and trace so that you know what shape it has around the borders. Sometimes it helps identify certain patterns, based on the number of ridges per smoothness.  Next, you should look carefully at the pattern in the glass and see what shapes it gives. You can identify a piece based on these textures in the glass. Many of them look very similar to each other so you must study these patterns closely, else get burned by getting the wrong pattern. Check the color! Companies made specific colors, and if the color doesn’t match the pattern, it’s not authentic!  Also, if you look at a piece, and notice that it is either handmade or without imperfections (like bubbles or seams) it is not Depression glass. I know that it sounds crazy, why would you want to get glass with imperfections? The answer is easy though. It wasn’t perfect when produced, so if you want real depression glass, then its going to be a little flawed. Nothing wrong with that, as long as its authentic. Like people! 😊

Unfortunately, we can’t just google the price of glass because there isn’t a set price for any of the pieces.  It depends on your area, the piece that you have, the dealers around you, and many more factors. This isn’t to say that you should give up though! You can try and see if something might be of value based on the piece you have. If you want valuable, you should probably attempt to get the least produced color of a pattern.  This will automatically make it more valuable, just for the sheer fact that it is rare to find. You can also check carefully for chips, flakes, cracks, scratches, or any other major damage, as this can obviously devalue the piece some. Regardless, it is a great time finding these pieces of history. They come in all shapes and colors and have a rich history behind them.  As long as you are getting joy out of these pieces, they are continuing to do their job. These beautiful pieces have brought a lot of happiness for people who needed it most, and now you can find and hold someone else’s joy in your hands.

Happy Hunting all you vintage loving babes!


Additional resources:

For help on identifying patterns, this website could be useful (mentioned in Rachel Rossi’s blog, listed below):

For a full breakdown and more on Depression Glass, this book has 19 editions, and could give you all the information you might want to know, for a reasonable price:

Collector's Encyclopedia of Depression Glass by Gene Florence

Reference Links used:

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