Although milk glass is rising again in popularity, it’s value is dependent on its age, quality, and condition. Most of the milk glass seen in flea markets and antique malls is from the 1940’s and 50’s that were once wedding gifts to brides during that time. Much of the quality is not as nice as the much older versions of milk glass that are true antiques. There is also a large supply of really cheap milk glass that came from the floral shops in the late 20th Century. How do you tell the difference in quality and old versus new?
The first way is to feel the glass. Older, quality milk glass has a very smooth, silky feel. Newer, cheaper glass will have more texture or have a grainy feel. Many pieces of antique milk glass have some marks to help identify it. A “C” shaped rough spot on the foot of the glass was formed in the molding. You will not find this mark on new pieces. Also, older milk glass has less blue tone in the color and the glass is heavier. Ellen Schroy, author of “Warman’s Depression Glass”, states that older milk glass has a “ring of fire. You hold the piece up in the sunlight to look for a halo of iridescent colors right around the edge, look for reds, blues and golds. This ring was caused by the addition of iridized salts into the milk glass formula. If this ring is present, it’s probably an old piece.” Appropriate patterns for specific makers are also something to watch for, such as Fenton’s “Hobnail” pattern. Collectors should always check for condition issues such as damage and discoloration. According to Schroy, there is no remedy for discolored glass, and cracked and chipped pieces should be avoided, as they are prone to further damage.
The cheap floral industry milk glass vases, bowls, flower pots from the 1960’s and 70’s, Schroy advises, “… are pale, usually widely spaced hollow back hobnails patterns. If you find these pieces at garage sales, flea markets, and can pick them up cheaply, they make cute containers for bathroom accessories, etc., but probably will never appreciate much in value.”
Values on the older and larger functional pieces, such as a Fenton Hobnail cake platter on a pedestal, are higher. Today, you can expect around $60 for the cake plate. According to milkglass.org, some of the more desirable items are:
The Fenton Hobnail Punch Bowl that comes with 12 cups is worth $666.
The 11” Westmoreland Paneled Grape Cannister is valued at $205.
A Lace Edged Pedestal Banana Bowl is valued at $69.
Fenton Hobnail Toothpick Holder you can find for $42.
If you have some milk glass that you would like appraised, contact Seasoned Life Transitions. Kim Lawrence is a certified antique appraiser and graduate of the Asheford Institute of Antiques.
www.seasonedlifetransitions.com or call 866-653-9669