Depression Glass is glassware made in the United States from the late 1920s to about 1940. This was mass produced to be inexpensive or given away as a premium. The patterns had fanciful molded designs or geometric motifs and came in a rainbow of colors and in clear.
Elegant Glass was “good glass”, finer quality crystal or colored and was usually partially made by hand. The pieces were finished better with fewer flaws or raised seams. You will find bubbles and small imperfections.
Mold Etched Etchings are designs that are applied by acid. Mold etched means the design was applied to the mold which allowed the designs to be mass produced quickly and at low cost. Mold etched pieces have the pattern raised on the surface while acid etched will be recessed
Patterns Since the glassware was mass produced the pieces would all have similar designs. The many named patterns have several pieces and usually multiple colors and you can collect the pattern in a set, for example a dessert set might include plates, cups, saucers, creamer, sugar and serving tray.
Pieces to Collect
Console Bowl The console set consisted of a large bowl, usually less than 5 inches tall and 10 to 15 inches wide, that was flanked with two candles and used as a centerpiece during dinner or on a side table or hallway table as decoration. The bowls can be very elegant pieces, with flared rims and rims that roll right over to touch the table. The purpose was to show off the gorgeous colors and designs and the rolled rim bowls had the etched or cut work on the rolled rim where it was easy to see. The bowls could be oval or round and some had frog insets to hold flowers.
Sherbet Plate This was a practical item! People put small plates under almost anything that could drip, sherbets, soup bowls, mayonnaise bowls, which protected the tablecloth and gave a place to put your spoon. (Remember, this was before the days of wash and wear and all table linens had to be washed, dried and ironed.) Sometimes these are called bread and butter plates or 6 inch plates.
Liner Plate These plates went under another piece. Some, like mayonnaise liners or the plates for cheese and cracker sets, had inset wells or rings, like a saucer only bigger, to hold the top piece from sliding around. Others, like sherbet plates, were shaped like regular plates and could be used as a plate.
Lunch or Dinner Plate These were pieces in a tableware set. Dinner plates were usually about 9 inches across although some, like Federal Patrician, were wider. Lunch plates were usually about 8 inches, although this varied by the pattern. Salad plates were usually smaller than lunch plates, about 7 inches.
Grill plates were dinner plates with three sections. They were originally used in diners as they kept the peas from getting into the mashed potatoes and gravy.
Salvers were wider than a dinner plate and were round trays or platters, usually about 12 inches across.
Platters were usually oval but you may find round ones. Some patterns called them trays.
Chop plates were large round serving platters, originally used to serve meat. One lady wrote me that she recalled the servants offering chops to the people dining off these large trays.
Center Handled Sandwich, Center Handled Server or Serving Tray, CHS These are fanciful, beautiful pieces that add a super elegant and unusual touch to your dinner table. They vary in size and shape but most often are round with a handle in the center. They were used to serve small sandwiches, desserts, candies, cakes and would be useful today even for fruit. Center handled servers are among the signature pieces of the depression era.
Bon bon Bon bons were used as the name implies, to serve small treats. You can find several styles; look for small plates with curved up sides and handles or small, flatter dishes with handles.
Nappy Nappy is an old fashioned term for a bowl. In most elegant glass patterns the nappy is a shallow bowl, about 6 inches wide, with one handle. They may be round, square or triangular. The triangular ones are called tricorn nappies. These would be good pieces to collect if you want to have small pieces of many patterns as they are dainty, attractive and show off the designs.
Cheese and Cracker Another piece that should be revitalized today with our dedication to good snacking! These are two piece sets with a large plate and a small footed bowl or comport as shown in the second from the right photo. The cheese goes in the comport and the crackers surround the cheese. Nice, yes
Comport or Compote These are shallow bowls mounted on a pedestal. They range in size and can be most elegant. They were used for candy, nuts or even flowers.
Berry Bowl People must have eaten berries more than we do. Berry bowl usually means a sauce dish or small, shallow bowl, about 4 to 6 inch inches across, that you would serve applesauce or a small vegetable. Some patterns, especially older ones, may call a larger serving bowl a berry bowl. You can find full berry sets which had 6 small bowls and one larger one called a master berry bowl.
Tab handled refers to handles on a bowl or plate that are solid. The Hocking Oyster and Pearl pink relish tray shown on the far right has tab handles.
Open handled means there is an opening in the center of the handle.
Dinner Service Dinner sets would contain dinner plates, cup, saucer, at least one size place setting bowl, a smaller plate and serving pieces such as vegetable bowls or platters. Some patterns had very large dinner sets with small sauce dish sized bowls, soup bowls, cereal bowls, cream soup bowls, bouillon bowls, many plate sizes and serving pieces and decorative items like vases or candleholders.
Lunch or luncheon sets were smaller than dinner sets and substituted lunch plates for the dinner plate. Minimum pieces were the lunch plate, cup, saucer, creamer and sugar and usually a small serving tray.
Amber is a common depression color, especially from Federal Glass, and is a darker shade of gold. The cheese and cracker set is amber.
Amethyst is not a common color but you can find some patterns, such as Newport by Hazel Atlas.
Aquamarine is a teal color and Jeannette made a few patterns in this, such as Doric and Pansy and Swirl.
Cobalt is transparent dark blue. Hazel Atlas Glass made several cobalt patterns.
Monax is MacBeth Evans name for translucent white glass used in American Sweetheart and Petalware. Some pieces look almost blue or opalescent.
Crystal Depression Glass means clear and transparent depression ware, not lead crystal as we use the term today.
Delphite is Jeannette’s opaque light blue, used in Swirl and Cherry Blossom.
Green was one of the most common colors and was usually a medium tint, like a green crayon but lighter. Avocado or olive shades usually dated much later, in the 1960s and 70s when those colors were in vogue. Some elegant makers produced emerald or Steigel green which were darker shades.
Cremax is MacBeth Evans name for a darker shade, more cream colored translucent material.
Pink depression glass ranged from very light to a darker rosy color.
Red was called ruby and is a darker shade. Hocking made some ruby lines during the depression but many more in the 1940s-60s.
Royal Ruby is a trademark of Anchor Hocking, used primarily after 1940.
Topaz is a lighter, soft yellow.