Hobnail Glass Pitchers
If you are looking for a fun collection to start, you may want to consider focusing in on hobnail glass pitchers. For one thing, hobnail glass itself comes in so many different colors, opacities and styles that it can be a lot of fun finding new pieces for you collection.
Secondly, of all the glass items you could collect pitchers are one of the most interesting because they come in such a huge range of shapes, sizes and styles. Combining the two into a hobnail glass pitcher collection can be an exciting and rewarding hobby.
Here's are some tips for getting started on your collection.
1. Decide on a theme for your collection. Do you want to keep it broad and just collect any hobnail glass pitcher regardless of shape, size or color? Or do you want to narrow in and make it more tightly focused? For instance you may want to only collect white milk glass hobnail pitchers. Focusing your collection around a color or style is a great way to become an expert on one particular style. Typically tightly focused collections tend to look great on display as well since the pieces all compliment each other. Either way, having a game plan for what you want your final collection to look like will help you stay on track while you are shopping and keep from getting overrun by a collection that accidentally grew too big.
2. Do some research. Head to your local library and find a few books on collecting glass. These books should have photographs and descriptions of the various types of hobnail pitchers that have been made throughout the past century. Educating yourself before you start shopping will help you spot valuable pieces and keep you from getting tricked into buying fakes.
3. Start shopping! Hit your local garage sales, thrift stores, flea markets, antique shops and anywhere else you can think of to find hobnail glass pitchers. Most of the fun of having a collection is in the hunt, so enjoy yourself and have a blast tracking down new pieces to add to your collection.
The Fenton Art Glass company was formed in 1905 by two brothers, Frank L and John W Fenton, who took over an old glassworks factory in the town of Martin's Ferry in the state of Ohio with a view to creating the finest Art Glass in the US. To do this they initially created designs on blank pieces of glass from rival glass makers, being unable to make their own at the time. Eventually they were able to start producing their own, being unable to purchase the glass they needed elsewhere. The Fenton Glass company then moved to Williamstown, just across the Ohio river into Virginia. Here they built a brand new Fenton Glass factory and began producing their own glass again here in 1908.
Of the two brothers, the designer and decorator was Frank L, while John W took care of the business side of things. Much is said of the initial designs the brothers came up with for their Fenton Glass pieces, particularly that their influences took in such luminaries as Tiffany and a lesser known company, Steuben. Their unique and beautiful colours are thanks to an amazing glass chemist called Jacob Rosenthal, who is credited with the creation of chocolate and golden agate types of glass.
Creations & Changes
The Fenton Brothers are now credited with the creation of their most popular works, the Fenton Carnival Glass. Fenton Carnival glass pieces are now considered to be great collectors items. Later, due to a change in the world market, Fenton began selling more domestic items, including Fenton Hobnail glass works, such as perfume bottles, and moved on to using the hobnail pattern in their Fenton Hobnail Milk Glass items, a hugely popular item that catapulted Fenton into the big leagues, and ensured a continued revenue for the company.
Move forward some decades, and changes in management also brought about changes in the Fenton Art Glass company fortunes and work practices. On top of great expansion in a time when other glass factories were closing their doors, Fenton introduced it's dating system in recognition of the collectibility of many of their items.
In recent times, the Fenton Glass co went through an era of instability, with threats of closure being cited during 2007. Clearly, Fenton hadn't counted on the support and love for their glass works, and a buying frenzy and renaissance in Fenton Art Glass has seen the company go from strength to strength yet again.
In 2009 the current President of Fenton, George Fenton, issued a statement to the effect that there would be no closure of Fenton Glass Co in the foreseeable future. 105 years of family business, owned and run by Fentons, and still going strong!