Fenton Glass Company has achieved nearly a century of success by matching current color preferences with traditional art glass styles.
Their Crest line of the 1940's-1980's reflects this perfectly. Also known as "petticoat glass", its ruffles of clear and/or colored glass decorated the edge of a body of contrasting color. Evocative of Victorian or Colonial styles, the Crest line struck a chord with those unenthused with abstract modern designs of other glass makers.
Fenton's quality showed in that the ruffled edges were always uniform and in balance. Fenton's earlier milk glass pieces showed great fire when held to light. And while Silver Crest (milk glass with a single crystal ribbon edge) was the most abundant, advanced collectors have paid large sums for scarce colors and pieces made for short periods.
Milk Glass With Colored Crests
Crystal Crest was the prototype for Silver Crest in 1941. Its double edge ribbons of clear and milk glass were simplified to a single "silver" (clear) crest in '42.
Aqua crest was produced in 1941 as a gift and tableware line. In 1948, a slightly lighter blue version appeared alongside Emerald Crest as a complete dinner service. It reappeared in 1963 as Blue Crest; oil bottles, cups, and some baskets have proven scarce.
Gold Crest also appeared in both the 1940's and 1963; but the ruby colored Flame Crest (1963 only) was an unsuccessful attempt to match the early '60s color schemes, and is elusive. Also scarce is the rosy Apple Blossom of 1960, just a dozen pieces now prized by collectors. Fluted edges in pink to opaline shades were hard to make, and it lasted just a year. Collectors have found it to be a deeper color than the pinkish Rose Crest made at the end of WWII
Colored and Cased Glass Lines
The first colored Crest lines, Ivory and Topaz Opalescent, contained uranium, which was limited to military use by 1942.
Peach Crest enjoyed longevity, made from 1940- 1967. It was hard to make, with milk glass gathered over ruby and finished with crystal edging. Colossal epergnes and 10" top hats were among its 60 pieces. Black Rose added an eye catching black (originally cobalt) to Peach Crest, and was made in small quantities in 1953.
Fenton wisely predicted that colored glass would gain popularity in the '50s, and introduced deeply colored glass with contrasting crests. Snow Crest, produced in a spiral optic pattern, debuted in ruby, amber, emerald, and blue versions. On themarket for 3 years, they were mostly limited to bowls, vases, and rare hurricane lamps.
Silver Jamestown, like Peach Crest, was colored (turquoise) inside and overlaid with milk glass on the outside. It joined 1956's solid color Silver Rose and Silver Turquoise in matching that era's color palettes.
While the Crest lines have ceased to be a mainstay, Fenton has used Silver Crest designs as blanks for handpainting into the 1990's. Fenton has continued to weather the fads and styles of many eras, without compromising quality. -Stephanie Conant
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