Monday, June 2, 2008

"O, my Love's like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June."
Robert Burns (1759-1796)

Ah, June…weddings…I love the English tile in the picture above…I was married in June…32 years this month…in the tradition of weddings and white…although that symbol has faded a tad…I decided to collect some milk glass for this week’s “show and tell” although milk glass is not always white since it can be turned blue, pink, yellow, brown, and black. It is made from the white oxide or dioxide pigments and can glow in UV light like white clothing will glow violet under a black light.

Milk glass dates at least to ancient Egypt(1500 BC), but “beaders” will enjoy learning that it was produced in Jamestown as beads to use in Indian trading as early as 1609.(Hey--maybe we could offer the gas station attendant some white beads!!!)

It did gain popularity in the 1800s both here and in England, and all kinds of items were made from milk glass. Dresser sets, pin trays, water bottles, candy containers, and trinkets were popular. The glass was not ultra white but had a ivory tone.

As far as collectors, milk glass reflects a love/hate relationship. Many baby boomers grew up with the milk glass candy dishes, compotes, and hens on nests since these were popular shower gifts for our mothers. I know I have a piece my mother received as a wedding gift.

The best milk glass was produced by Westmoreland (PA). In business from 1890-1985, they maintain a current following. Fenton Glass (W. Va) still holding on for dear life, also is know for their silver crest line…the milk glass with a “clear” the right of the tile in the first picture…and their hobnail…the sugar and creamer below.
The earliest pieces here include the basket weave compote with the hand painted moss roses…a popular Victorian line…and the Victorian mantel vase.

I do believe we can credit Martha Stewart for upgrading milk glass…even Fire King’s…the basket weave plate in the picture…it is so versatile. It can blend with anything, and it works even in the winter…winter whites, you know!

The marked pieces of the big lines bring good money, but Fire King(Anchor Hocking), like the lace-edged piece under the Fenton sugar, is often found in thrift shops, and they do not book high either. Still most milk glass can be acquired for under $50 if not less in this current economy. But…no matter…buy it because you love it not because you think it will be valuable!


Patricia said...

I've always liked milk glass, particularly in the hob nail. Thanks for the mini class, I liked learning about this.


Carolyn Kocman said...

hey, that basketweave compote painted inside? that is so cool. i might just want that piece!

personally, i love milkglass and i do not care what the are right. it's just the look that i love. my favorite bowl is a fire king...heehee!

Miniature Patisserie Chef said...

Thanks for introducing the milk glass. I would not have known them if not for your post! I love the basket weave. They look just so precious!

Pei Li

Inka Smith said...

I also love Milk Glass. My Mom used to have several pieces. I love the way you give the history of your stuff. That is always enjoyed by me.

Cathy said...

Thank you for this wonderful post. I loved Milkglass as a child, then grew to hate it because it was everywhere, now I'm in love with it once again.

I am no partial to any particular style or shape. The versatility of the bright, clean, crisp white is wonderful any season of the year.

These pieces are great to have on hand to fill in and fill up with goodies for everyday use and special occasions. I really enjoyed this post.


Rose Petals & Blooms said...

Hi Susan,
You're so right about my swan vase, it is a McCoy. I found that on my buying trip, and have filled it with my sweet peonies, roses and cottage flowers from my gardens.. I'll be selling the vase on my site, without the
I love Milk glass, and have collected over the years, but always end up selling my pieces.. boo-hoo! When I owned my B&M, milk glass was my best seller.

Janet L Christian said...

I love hobnail white milk glass -- i love the pink too but it is harder to find.

Silena said...

Hi Susan,
Milk glass is so very nostalgic...I think we all have memories of it in our childhood houses...I renewed my admiration for Milk Glass when Marth Stewart revived interest in it a few years back when she talked about her tag sale finds...thanks for the info and for's so much fun!!

Noelle Garrett Designs said...

I really enjoyed the little history lesson. Milk glass is one of my favorites! You really have some beauties up. Thanks for asking about my DH. He is still job hunting, very competitive here in education, he is getting interviews.:) Hopefully one will pan out!

Sweet Necessi-Teas said...

Love that blue and white tile! Also enjoyed the lesson about milk glass. Very interesting!

Anonymous said...


The ruffled edge dishes are so beautiful. I do love milk glass.


Cottage Flair said...

What a beautiful blog with lovely photos. Thank you for the lesson and history on milk glass. I have a few pieces I love.

Anonymous said...

I grew up with it and never liked it but I have been collecting pieces here and there and have a renewed appreciation for it. Happy Anniversary!

Anonymous said...

I love milk glass, and thank you so much for the lovely lesson, very good read.
Pink Hugs, xoxoxo

Lilli Blue said...

I am feeling a little emotional today.I guess I'm just very open and feeling all the things that matter most in life. I LOVE the way you teach us about things. I read every word and I hear you and take it all in.
You have had a big effect on the way I feel about research. I look everything up now.I love knowing what an item is about. The history is more important to me now than the price it will get.
Emerson was right about self reliance......the person I can always count on is me.

Unknown said...

I have milk glass stored away in the shed, left over from my B&M of the 80's. Some of the younger ladies are loving it, and displaying it. You are always so knowledgeable. Thank you for your little lessons.
Theresa @ Cottage Violets

Angel Heart Designs said...

Hi! Susan...the milk glass is gorgeous...I don;t have any yet..just might have too!
Show your pin girl that you mentioed...I'd LOVE to see it..
Cindy :)

Roxie Morrow said...

I absolutely adore milkglass. When I was decorating lampshades, I would always be attracted to the milkglass lamps. Your collection is quite nice and displayed so pretty.

Susie said...

Very nice collection of milk glass Susan. I, too, collect it, mostly Fenton hobnail pieces. I can't stop! Help!!!! thanks for sharing!
The Polka Dot Rose

Eileen & Karen said...

Susan, I just loved your Milk Glass post. I too love milk glass and think it's under appreciated! Thanks for sharing it's story!

Sad lonely Child said...

Hello I love your blog!! So beautiful. And I thank you so much for stopping by..I never imagined all the Love i have gotten!! Thank so much!!

metro home style said...

Susan, just found your blog via WTW - it's great! Great information, and beautiful photos of your merchandise! Looking forward to more. - Linda

metro home style said...

Oops - found you via Gift Retailers . . . need more coffee . . . - Linda

Unknown said...

Hi Susan,

What a treat to see the milk glass. They really are classic. My mother has a few in her cabinet and they are so pretty. I really enjoyed visiting your blog today. It's very pretty.
Have a fantastic day,
Janet's Creative Pillows