Many people collect carnival glass but do they know just how common it was in the early 20th century (and before)? In 1954, my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and the bowl used by the florist for the table arrangement was…marigold carnival glass. I don’t know what happened to that bowl but similar ones are often found in antique shops and we have acquired a few.
Carnival glass is a bit flashy so a little goes a long way as decorative and useful items in a home. It comes in all shapes and sizes and colors and purposes. Most pieces are inexpensive but the price really depends on the rarity.
The hat pin holder pictured is green glass with purple and orange iridescence. We have a pair which would have been used on a lady’s dressing table perhaps with matching pieces to hold rings or cosmetics.
- Carnival glass has been known by many other names in the past: aurora glass, dope glass, rainbow glass, taffeta glass, and disparagingly as ‘poor man’s Tiffany’. Its current name was adopted by collectors in the 1950s from the fact that it was sometimes given as prizes at carnivals, fetes & fairgrounds. However, that can be misleading as people tend to think that all of it was distributed in this way but evidence suggests that the vast majority of it was purchased by the housewife to brighten up the home at a time when only the well off could afford bright electric lighting.
- Carnival glass gets its iridescent sheen from the application of metallic salts while the glass is still hot from the pressing. A final firing of the glass brings out the iridescent properties of the salts, giving carnival glass the distinct shine it is known for.