Antique Loomisms: Fenton carnival glass bowl worth $100

How amusing to hear how some antiques that we cherish were initially baptized with unkind designations. In the late 1700s, the Shakers, a branch of the Quakers, literally shook during religious meetings and were tagged with the condescending “Shaker” designation. But not any more! Today Shaker is synonymous with eternally modern furniture from the Victorian era that influenced 20th century superstars, including Frank Lloyd Wright and Russel Wright.

warman's carnival glass fentonA visual feast of 1,000+ color photos of this beautiful glass (including many rarities) and detailed examples of nearly 250 patterns from A (Acanthus) to Z (Zig Zag)

Another beloved antique gets the last laugh (like the Shakers) in “upmanship!” In the early 1900s, Louis Comfort Tiffany crafted shimmering art glass called Favrile (meaning handmade) into vases and other objects so thin and delicate that his works practically looked like freshly picked blossoms. Needless to say, Tiffany products were upscale, but that did not stop our early 20th century relatives on Main Street to crave Tiffany-type glass. So in the early 1900s, factories in the United States attempted to duplicate Favrile glass.

But to connoisseurs so used to Favrile glass, these adaptations failed, and the assembly-line versions were branded garish, like something won as a carnival prize. Thus, the less affluent version of Tiffany-like glass was christened with the disparaging name “carnival glass.” Yet, despite that drawback, folks adored it. Today that once-uncomplimentary designation has stuck and turned upbeat. “Carnival” was associated with blissful recollections of Ferris wheels and carousels and then, in time, to glass that decorated homes all across the United Sates and Canada.

Between 1905 and the 1920s, the Dugan, Imperial, Millersburg and McKee factories, among others, produced myriad examples. Today, the prices are downright bargain basement, which is good news if you want to collect carnival glass.

waterlilly carnival glass bowl fentonQ My cousin gave me this “Water Lily and Cat Tail” bowl.  My research says it is quite valuable. I am 89 and disposing of a lot of collectible items. — K.J., Milton, Wash.

A I hope you enjoyed reading my primer about carnival glass, since it was written with you in mind. Your bowl is in the “marigold” color and could have been made by Fenton.

Morphy Auctions of Denver, Pa., in June 2005 sold two Fenton “Water Lily and Cattails” carnival glass bowls that were each 10 inches in diameter. One went for $100, and the other sold for $300. Both were in excellent condition and in the less prevalent green color. With that research, I would say your bowl is worth around $100 at auction.

Frank Farmer Loomis IV is an antiques and fine arts appraiser, lecturer, journalist and host of “Keep Antiquing!,” a weekly radio show on WMKV radio in Cincinnati ( He is the author of Antiques 101 and Secrets of Affordable Antiques in addition to hosting “Antiques, History & Loomis” on Anderson Community Television, broadcast on Cincinnati Public Television.

More from Frank Farmer Loomis
Secrets to Savvy Collecting: How to collect like a rock star on a garage band budget
Family’s pharmacy collection priceless

Editor’s Picks – Carnival Glass Reference & History

Standard Companion to Carnival Glass: Identification & Values Standard Companion to Non-American Carnival Glass: Identification & Value Guide Standard Encyclopedia of Carnival Glass
Standard Companion to Carnival Glass: Identification & Values
Standard Companion to Non-American Carnival Glass: Identification & Value Guide Standard Encyclopedia of Carnival Glass


Special discount prices on great books, digital downloads, price guides & reference books for every hobby

Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles 2012 Price Guide

Antique Trader Facebook PageMeet and share with other antiques collectors, dealers and auctioneers on Antique Trader’s Facebook page

Antique Trader Twitter ProfileGet special discounts and breaking news alerts on Antique Trader’s Twitter feed!

Browse (or place your own) FREE online classified ads

Sign up for your FREE email newsletters

For more trade news, auction reports, research and expert columnists, get a year (26 issues) of Antique Trader magazine for the special online price of just $26!

Antiques Auction Houses