Q: I am sending you photos of my three-piece Fenton Glass Perfume Set. The round jar and bottle are both numbered 786/1000. When I Googled it, I got a $500 value, but I don’t know if that’s right. I tried getting a price guide from the library, but couldn’t find it. I would appreciate any info you could give me. I know Fenton Glass is no longer being made. I noticed there are several Fenton Clubs listed in the price guide, but nothing local. It would be great to have you do a column about Fenton or even point me in the right direction to sell it.
A: Brothers Frank and John Fenton founded their business in Martins Ferry, Ohio, in 1905. At first, Fenton decorated glassware made by other manufacturers. In 1907 the brothers decided to produce their own glass, and they opened a factory in Williamstown, West Virginia. That same year they introduced Iridescent Ware.
Iridescent glass was all the rage at the turn of the last century. Louis Comfort Tiffany introduced his Favrille glass in 1896 after, it’s been anecdotally reported, a visit to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. At the V&A he saw ancient Roman and medieval glass and, struck by their soft iridescence, determined to develop a product to simulate that look.
Frederick Carder and Thomas Hawkes formed Steuben Glass in 1903. In 1904 they introduced Aurene, their version of iridescent glass. (Tiffany sued Steuben over what he believed was a stolen process. The case never went to court.)
Fenton never aspired to the luxury market heights of Tiffany or Steuben. Fenton mass-produced wares for middle-class homes. In addition to their iridescent line, Fenton produced custard glass, stretch glass, hobnail glass and milk glass — almost all in imitation of existing wares from other companies.
Fenton was a nimble company able to anticipate and meet popular demand. It continued to innovate and thrive through the 20th century.
In 1988, Fenton began a partnership with the shopping channel QVC. Lines developed specifically for QVC followed the first collaboration of collectible Birthstone Bears. Some items were copies of old pieces, and some were re-imagined favorites using original molds and decorating with modern styles.
Your dresser set is one of these re-imagined pieces produced for QVC. The silver oval label printed in black with a script F could indicate a manufacture date any time between 1988 and 1996.
During the QVC years, Fenton marketed their products as limited-edition and hand-painted. While these statements are factually true, the edition numbers were large and the amount of hand painting was minimal. As you noted, Fenton stopped production of traditional items; that was in 2011. It now produces glass jewelry.
I see sets similar to yours listed for sale at $500, but I don’t find records of any selling for that price. On eBay these sets sell in the $80 to $130 range.
I have to congratulate you on the extent of your search! You consulted two of my favorite sources for information — the public library and collector clubs. Googling alone doesn’t yield results.
Jane Alexiadis is a personal property appraiser. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published at Thu, 10 Aug 2017 21:00:39 +0000