Carnival glass and depression glass are two types of antique glassware highly sought after by collectors. Both types are brightly colored and both were mass-produced in the past and then discontinued. However, carnival glass and depression glass have differences that are obvious to the trained eye.
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Both carnival and depression glass are colored. However, carnival glass features an iridescent, multicolored look, whereas depression glass has more of a simple, single-colored, transparent look. Carnival glass was made to inexpensively mimic glass made by the Tiffany Company. According to "Collector's Weekly," it was often called "Poor Man's Tiffany."
Carnival glassware first hit the market In 1907 when a West Virginia company, the Fenton Glass Company, produced the first example. Other companies soon followed. Carnival glass was produced up until the 1940s. However, its popularity began to fade in the 1920s. The most popular carnival glass collectors items date from between 1907 and 1930, according to Collectors Weekly. The first piece of depression glass was made in 1923 by a company in Indiana. Production of this glassware continued through the 1940s. This type of glassware was most popular during the Great Depression.
Popular manufacturers of carnival glass, in addition to the Fenton Glass Company, included the Northwood Glass Company, the Dugan Glass Company and the Imperial Glass Company. Well-known manufacturers of depression glass included the Hazel Atlas Glass Company, the Jeanette Glass Company, the Federal Glass Company and the Indiana Glass Company.
When carnival glass and depression glass were originally produced, some pieces sold for less than $1. Today, original pieces vary in price, but single pieces can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.