Skip to main content

Carnival glass values depend on many factors

Susan Mullikin explores what gives some pieces of carnival glass more value than others.

By Susan Mullikin

Q I’ve dealt in antiques since 1974. I purchased these 10 carnival glass bowls as a lot. They have no markings that I can find and I have been unable to locate the maker. Four of the bowls in picture 5 have a finish and color I have not seen before. The patterns or designs are on the inside of all the bowls. The bowls are not as heavy in weight as normal. They are very nice clear patterns and color. Two have a two-piece mold and the others are three-piece. They were expensive and I have no doubt that if sold, I would lose money on them. (Size runs from 9 to 12 inches.)

Would you identify the maker, some of the patterns and a ballpark value?

— F.W.T., Texas

Carnival glass

Carnival glass

A Thank you for bringing the vast field of the study of carnival glass to the attention of the reader’s of Antique Trader magazine by way of your inquiry. In 1908 the Fenton Art Glass company saw a need to bring to the masses a new form of Tiffany glass, a decorative glass that a housewife could afford based on her budget. Carnival glass was born.

The hot glass would first be pressed into most commonly a two part mold then reheated, shaped, and sprayed with an iridescent spray giving the piece a rainbow luster appearance. Not only was Fenton the largest producer of carnival glass, it has been credited with 150 various patterns. Harry Northwood, Millersburg, and other companies followed until interest waned in the 1920s. At this time European glass companies continued production. Fenton did restart production of carnival glass until its closure in 2007. Any production of carnival glass from 1950 and after is referred to as “late carnival.”

Carnival glass as I mentioned is a vast subject and to properly authentic your collection of 10 carnival bowls acquired at auction I recommend definitely a hands-on examination especially that you mention you felt the bowls did not have the usual weight as normal. Reproductions are commonplace these days. Carnival glass is assessed based on a grading scale to determine ultimate value and desirability.

Establishing carnival glass value

Carnival glass

Carnival glass

Each piece is looked at in regards to 1) the quality of the iridescence, are areas worn or uneven; 2) base color, some colors are more rare than others; 3) the number of ruffles on each piece; 4) shape; 5) overall desirability; 6) rarity of a piece; 7) condition, are chips present; 8) is the piece signed by the maker; and 9) is your piece a possible reproduction.

I would like to identify and use one of your bowls as pictured in your photo number 4 to the furthest left as an example of different various colors of the same pattern carnival bowl and how it can affect value. While doing research and referring to the reference book Carnival Glass – The Best of the Best, Identification Guide to Rare and Unusual Pieces, by Bill Edwards and Mike Carwile (2004 edition, pages 64-65), your particular bowl was identified as “Good Luck” by Harry Northwood and in your photo in the common color of amethyst. On page 64, the Good Luck bowl is pictured in the rare colors of aqua opalescent, ice green, and ice blue, commanding higher values. On page 65 the good luck bowl commands an even higher value when pictured with various colors of enameling. A Good Luck plate is also shown in electric purple and mention is made that plates in this pattern are more rare than bowls.

As you can see with the previous example much goes into the determination of value regarding each piece of carnival glass not only with color but taking into consideration all the other criteria as well. I recommend a hands on examination of each piece of carnival glass within your collection by a certified appraiser or an expert in glass in your area to determine as accurately as possible valuation. 

Image placeholder title
Antique Trader subscription

This article was originally published in Antique Trader magazine. If you like what you’ve read here, consider subscribing to the print or digital versions of Antique Trader it’s available for $26 per year (print) or $20 per year (digital) to receive 24 issues.
Learn more about subscribing>>>

Weekly Showcase



Over 100 YEARS of Chinese History - Our pristine Jade Collection is extensive and beautiful!  Please visit our web site to get an idea of how beautiful this collection is.