Until his death in 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 's and '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 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 's and 's. By the s 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 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 onwards. Fenton glassware from the 's can be identified by the tiny number 8 under the n in Fenton; and similar in the 's there is a number 9 under the n.
Fenton Glass are reported to have borrowed heavily during the s. In the presidency of the company was taken over by George W.
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Fenton, the son of Frank M. In January 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 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 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, to 40, visitors to its Factory Tour every year. At the Centenary celebrations in early 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 years. The announcement of the forthcoming closure produced a huge response from supporters of the Company.
Many of these stickers were lost or removed over time, but some of them are still attached. The stickers are often affixed to the bottom of the glass. Examine carnival glass for an oval logo starting from about The first Fenton logo to be stamped into the glass was the word Fenton inside of an oval.
It can be found on carnival glass pieces including vases, dishes, and decorative items that were made starting in Check for a small number in the oval that denotes the year. In the s, Fenton added a number 8 to the logo to indicate the decade when the pieces were made.
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They used a 9 during the 90s and a 0 from to the present. These numbers may be small and hard to see. Examine the piece for a cursive F in an oval. If your piece is marked with an F in an oval, it indicates that the glass mold was originally owned by a company other than Fenton, and Fenton later acquired that mold. This mark came into use in Check for a flame or a star on the piece. You may notice a flame which resembles the letter S, a solid star, or the outline of a star somewhere on your item.
This indicates that the piece is a second, or was found to have some defect while still at the factory. These pieces can still be collectible.
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Check the bottom of the glass for a pontil mark, which Fenton doesn't have. Some glass makers use punty rods to hold a glass piece during the crafting process. Fenton uses snap rings, so most of their pieces will not have a pontil mark. These include some very rare pieces from the s and a few contemporary hand blown collections.
The base will have a flat, collared surface, or it may have a ball or spatula feet. Fenton also specialized in a form of glass known as Hobnail, which is covered with small button-like bumps. Look for bubbles or flaws in the glass, which Fenton shouldn't have.
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Fenton glass is extremely high quality, and it should be free of air bubbles or other flaws. If your piece has obvious manufacturing flaws, it is unlikely to be Fenton glass. Contact a Fenton dealer or an antique expert if you still have questions. Due to similarities between manufacturers, it can be very difficult to tell the difference between some pieces.