Delicate, feminine and pretty, Depression Glass is a well recognized table top item. It's one of my personal favorites and in a house full of boys, I like to pull it out when I host showers or have my girls over for wine. It can be delicate and easily broken, so I keep it far away from my little trouble makers.
Depression Glass was produced in the United States in high volume during the 1920's and 30's. It came in colors such as pink, green, pale blue, and amber, as well as clear, white (milk glass,) jadeite, red, aquamarine, black, yellow... you get the idea. Lots of colors, although pink and green are by far the most well known. Have you ever walked into an antique store and wondered why it looked like there was a smoke shop in the corner of the store? (and I mean the Colorado kind.) It's because dealers (the antique kind, not the Colorado kind) are trying to highlight the authenticity of green depression glass, which glows green under black light. They may also be trying to show off Vaseline Glass, but that's a topic for someone else...I don't care for the stuff.
Prior to the 20's, glassware was mostly hand-poured, pressed and polished. Only wealthy families owned fine glassware because it was so expensive to make. And just like today, what wealthy people have, other people long for. Manufacturers saw an opportunity and evolved their processes in order to make the glassware more cost effective for the average family. What I'm trying to say is... the stuff was cheap. CHEAP. Poorly machine-made, full of flaws, Family Dollar cheap. But it made the common folk feel fancy so it was OK with them.
Unfortunately for everyone, the Great Depression hit a few years later and suddenly, what little money families had to spend on pretty glassware was tied up paying essentials like food and shelter. As a way to lure people out to spend the little money they did have, places like movie theaters or the local fair would offer a free piece of glassware with the price of admission. Everyone likes free! It was easier to justify frivolous expenses when you could take home something pretty that you would never buy otherwise. Even grocery stores got in on the action, giving away stamps that customers could save up and turn in for glassware. Grocery stores actually still do this for various kitchen items like cookware. Brookshire's anyone??
The irony is, what started out as knock-off, super cheap glassware has turned into highly desirable collector's items. Those same flaws are actually used to identify certain patterns and brands of Depression Glass. Many patterns were so beloved that they are still replicated today. You can actually buy a brand new replica glass, which is far and away better quality than the original!
So, if Depression Glass was cheap, flawed, and widely available, why is it so desired today? There are lots of answers to that question, the simplest being that what seems desirable, IS desirable. I've owned Pretty Little Plates for 5 years now, and what I used to be able to get for next to nothing, has now become increasingly rare and way more expensive. The more likely reason is that this type of glassware evokes a sense of nostalgia in the collector. Depression Glass often represents early childhood, or like myself, time spent with a much loved grandparent.
So that's your History-Light lesson for today PLPeeps!