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The Collectics Antiques Information & Education pages are designed to further knowledge of antiques, collectibles, collecting styles, periods, artists, designers, and manufacturers of fine and decorative arts. To learn more, our Antique Collector Bookstore lists only the best collector books and price guides, complied by surveys of top antique dealers and auction houses. For a different shopping experience, you can also browse our featured selections in a fun new way with the Antique Price Guides Slideshow or see current bestsellers by using Collector Books Topic Search.

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  Carnival glass originated in America although other countries also began to produce similar types of relatively low cost iridescent glass. Carnival glass is made in an amazing variety of patterns, both geometric and naturalistic, formed in a mold and then hand finished and decorated. The iridescence was created by adding metalic oxides into the hot glass while being formed and spraying the metallic salt solution to the still hot surface, subsequently re-firing it in the kiln. It was the eventual melting of the salts that created the rainbow colors of iridescence. This contrasts with Depression or "pressed" glass which is simpler and less expensive to make by using molds but without the hand finishing and iridescence of Carnival glass. It's the combination of hand decorating along with often vibrant iridescence that really reflects the light in the color hues of a rainbow that make Carnival glass so popular with collectors today. Carnival glass first began to appear on the market in its now common look in about 1904, an attempt by early manufacturers to reproduce the general look of Louis Comfot Tiffany "Favrile" iridescent glass for the masses. Indeed, Carnival glass is sometimes referred to as the "poor man's Tiffany." 

Hand operated presses that were used to form the molds had been used since 1883, lowering the production cost of glassware dramatically when compared to traditional hand blown glass. Molten glass was poured into an outer mold, and then an inner mold was pressed in using substantial pressure. When glass seeped through the mold lines or the finished product showed the efects of the mold, these seams would be polished out, and the myriad patterns used like the grape and cable also served to hide the traces of the pressing. The hot glass could also be hand finished into new shapes, elongated, and made more interesting by forming irregular edges, flutes, pinched and crimped edges, pleats, ruffles, scallops and countless other effects. Carnival glass was made in most all the colors of the rainbow, with marigold being the most common followed by amethyst, blue, green, and red. Other colors were also made in small quantities such as black and pastels, and colors were also coated with white to create opalescence by changing the hues and creating a striated effect. It should be noted that the base color of Carnival glass is not typically the same color as the iridescence, so you need to look at it in the light to see the iridized colors which come through. 

All types of dinnerware and tableware were made in vast quantities by manufacturers such as Fenton, Northwood, Imperial, Dugan, and Millersburg, in shapes which included bowls, dishes, glasses, jugs, punch bowls, and hair accessories and hatpins. Carnival glass lost popularity during the Art Deco design period and the tough economic climate of the depression years of the 1930s. The generic term for this iridescent pressed glass became known as "Carnival" glass, as it was given away as prizes at fairs and carnivals after having fallen out of favor. It is said that over 1000 patterns of Carnival glass were produced by American manufacturers alone, with names such as beaded cable, pineapple & bow, peacock tails, open rose, and an amazing variety of flowers, fruits, and leaves. In the 1950s, Carnival glass popularity rebounded, and it began being reproduced by American manufacturers such as Imperial well into the 1960s and 1970s, and while not as valuable as period Carnival glass mid 20th century Carnival glass reproductions are also well collected in their own right.

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The Art of Carnival Glass (Schiffer Book for Collectors) Northwood Carnival Glass 1908-1925: Identification & Value Guide
Art Deco: 1910-1939
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