Fenton Carnival Glass Shines Through the Decades
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Carnival Glass made by Fenton was first mentioned in a trade magazine in October 1907. The glass, called 'Iridill', was a cheaply priced glass made to imitate Tiffany Favrile glass.

This iridescent glass had a metallic luster appearance over a colored, pressed pattern, and was sold in the dime stores. It was only after the sales of this glass decreased and had to be sold bulk that it was sold to the carnivals as prizes (leading to the name Carnival Glass).

Fenton Art Glass Company became the top producer of carnival glass, making over 150 patterns. The quality of the glass, and its popularity with the public, enabled the newly founded company to be profitable right from the beginning. Fenton produced more animal patterns than any other factory, including Butterfly & Berry, Lion, Panther, Dragon & Lotus, Dragon & Strawberry, Horse's Head, Stag & Holly, Butterflies, Little Fishes, and various Peacock designs. Elk pieces were made to be sold at the Elks Conventions of 1910,11, & 14.

Kitten patterns were very popular as children's dishes. Another highly prized treasure is a child's Peter Rabbit bowl or plate.

Flowers and fruit patterns were also popular. Patterns include Orange Tree, Chrysanthemum, Water Lily, Grape & Cable, and Little Flowers.

Many shapes and colors were made by Fenton. Shapes include water sets, table sets, bowls, mugs, vases and plates. The main colors used were marigold, amethyst, cobalt and green; but their red carnival set Fenton apart from other glass companies. While not a lot of red was made, Fenton produced more than anyone else.

As interest in carnival was subsiding in the early '20s, Fenton moved on to stretch glass and various other colors, thus ending the first era of carnival glass.

Rose Presznick had collected this iridescent glass for a number of years. Identifying the glass was hard since it didn't have a common name that was recognized by everyone. It was given the name Carnival Glass in the 1950s when she and Marion Hartung began to write about this type of glass.

Presznick was responsible for Fenton's reintroduction of carnival glass in the '70s. After collecting and writing about it for decades, she decided to turn her barn into a museum for carnival glass so she could share her love for it with others.

Needing to make money to support the museum, Rose approached Frank Fenton to make pieces for her to sell there. Fenton was back in the carnival business.

While making pieces for Presznick, Fenton also made some for their own line. The new carnival glass sold well from the beginning, just like the old. It was decided that the glass needed to be marked so collectors could tell the new from the old. The mark consisted of the word Fenton placed inside an oval.

Marking the new carnival made collectors so happy that it convinced Fenton to mark all their glass. Since 1974, all Fenton has been marked. With the coming of the '80s, the mark was altered to reflect a new decade with an 8 placed beneath Fenton in the oval; with the '90s, the 8 was changed to a 9.

Carnival glass continues to be an important part of Fenton's lines. It is still offered in the Fenton catalog and special Fenton QVC carnival glass is extremely popular. Carnival glass enabled a new, young company in 1907 to prosper; 94 yeas later, its still part of a successful family business. - Debbie Coe
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