Fenton glass vase
above: Fenton vase

below: the Fenton logo
Fenton glass logo


Fenton Glass Logo

Fenton Glass from
The Glass Encyclopedia

Fenton Glass: A short explanation:

Frank L Fenton and his brother John decided to open a glass decorating shop in Martins Ferry, Ohio, in 1905. A year later they moved to Williamstown, West Virginia where they built their own glassworks. In their first year they exhibited carnival glass (which they called Iridill) at a trade show and it was an instant success. For the next fifteen years the Fenton company made carnival glass as one of its main products.

The Fenton Art Glass company always aimed for good quality hand made pressed glass. Until the outbreak of war in 1914, Fenton could sell virtually everything they could produce in carnival glass. Until his death in 1948 it is reported that Frank L Fenton was responsible for the design of virtually all of the company's patterns. The fortunes of the company have been up and down during the past hundred years; in the Depression years they made mixing bowls for the Dormeyer company (to go with electric mixers) and hobnail perfume bottles for Wrisley, and these two major contracts saved the company from failing when many others went bankrupt.

Another slump in the hand glass industry in the 1940's and 1950's saw many other companies go out of business. Once again, Fenton Glass survived, and once again they found a magic product which the public loved, - milk glass (white glass that looks like porcelain). From 1952 onwards they made and sold tons and tons of items in milk glass especially their hobnail pattern. Milk glass became Fenton's top-selling line, and the company expanded in the 1950's and 1960's.

By the 1970s the company recognised that they had a new market for their products - namely collectors of art glass, especially art glass which imitated their own earlier products. Carnival glass entered a new phase of popularity at that time, mostly with collectors. They re-introduced carnival glass as a special order, but found it was so popular that Fenton have continued to produce carnival glass for collectors since that time. They mark it clearly so that it is not confused with earlier production.

The Fenton logo of an oval with Fenton written in script (shown on the left) was introduced in 1970 on carnival glass pieces, to identify these pieces as contemporary and not old. This was such a successful idea that it was extended to all Fenton glassware produced from 1974 onwards. Fenton glassware from the 1980's can be identified by the tiny number 8 under the n in Fenton; and similar in the 1990's there is a number 9 under the n.

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Fenton Glass are reported to have borrowed heavily during the 1980s. In 1986 the presidency of the company was taken over by George W. Fenton, the son of Frank M. Fenton. In January 2007 Fenton Art Glass celebrated their hundredth year, but later that year things were acknowledged as very difficult once again. An announcement was issued on August 9th 2007 that the company was to close at the end of that year. Jim Measell, the Company Historian, reported that some 25 people were made redundant (out of a total of about 400) and many people were distressed at the prospects of closure.

The Fenton factory was not only a major employer in the city of Williamstown and surrounding area of West Virginia, it had also become a major tourist attraction bringing some 30,000 to 40,000 visitors to its Factory Tour every year. At the Centenary celebrations in early 2007 the major of Williamstown is reported as saying that Fenton was "a mainstay of many families in the town and the surrounding area" over the past 100 years.

The announcement of the forthcoming closure produced a huge response from supporters of the Company. In particular there was a flood of orders into the company from collectors and dealers, so much so that the company's financial advisors believed the company had enough work that, with some restructuring, they could carry on. Hopefully this will prove to be another difficult time that the Fenton Glass company survives.

If you are looking for Fenton glass, you can usually find items on offer on ebay .


These items are for sale right now on eBay.com - we thought you would like to see these examples.





References and Further Reading

To keep up to date with recent and current events, there are a number of websites which report Fenton Glass News. Probably the most reliable is the Company's own website: Fenton Art Glass Company Website. The books shown below provide extensive information about Fenton glass. Click on any book cover on this page to read more about a particular book, including price and any available discounts for buying on-line.

Warman's Fenton glass Fenton glass Fenton glass Warman;s Fenton book Fenton for Other Companies book Fenton Colors book Fenton Patterns book Fenton 2nd Edition book Fenton Burmese Fenton 1990s decade Big Book of Fenton Fenton Cats & Dogs Fenton Compendium Fenton 80's glass book Fenton 3rd Glass book Fenton 1st glass book Fenton Art glass book Fenton 2nd glass book Fenton glass book





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