Thinkwhile - Carnival Glass
One day, instead of taking him to amusement park, or fishing, or some other place where uncles usually take nephews, noted antique dealer, Elmer P. Thinkwhile, took eleven year old Sylvestor antiquing with him. Naturally, the experiment proved a disaster; until they arrived at a large outdoor antique flea market with a brilliant-orange, pattern-glass punchbowl situated in the center of an eight foot table. It was part of an antique line so prevalent, even Sylvestor knew it by its name. "That's Carnival Glass!" he boasted.
The fat, T-shirt clad dealer behind the table raised an eye, spotting Sylvestor's well-to-do chaperone. "That's right kid," he said. "It was made by the Fenton Art Glass Company in the early part of this century. It's Wreath of Roses pattern, and its four hundred bucks."
"A price I'd happily pay," Thinkwhile retorted, "If your piece was not an imitation!"
The man groaned and took a hesitant second look at his punchbowl. Minutes later, Thinkwhile purchased the authentic antique in "as found" condition for only $200.
When his nephew inquired as to why he had mislead the dealer, Thinkwhile responded that he had not. "In a way," he said, "all Carnival Glass is imitation."
Carnival glass was first introduced to American homes around 1908 by Williamstown, West Virginia glass geniuses Frank and John Fenton. They developed a process of spraying an iron ore salt coating onto conventional glass, giving it an iridescent sheen reminiscent of the day's finest blown glass products by Frederic Carder, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and other artisans-at a fraction the price. Housewives scooped it from shelves. Soon, other glass houses were quick to copy. Five major American glass companies, Fenton, Northwood, Imperial, Millersburg, and Dugan, produced 90% of all period iridescent pattern glass, giving their lines expensive sounding names: Aurora, Regna, Sunset Hues, Rhodium, New Venetian, Parisian, and Art Iridescent. Period Carnival is available in over 1500 different patterns today in a multitude of shapes ranging from tumblers to tobacco humidors. In addition to the popular orange (known in the trade as marigold), Carnival Glass was produced in over 60 different colors. Color, pattern, maker, shape, size, rarity, popularity, and condition constitute value. It was only when the glass line's popularity waned until the late 1920's that it assumed it's name so well known today.
During the affluent years of the Roaring 20's, nobody wanted "Poor Man's Tiffany." It was dumped like garbage. Often stored in barrels, second hand iridescent glass was such a common gift prize at Depression Era Fair games of skill and chance, it acquired its new name. In the 1950's, Carnival Glass became popular with collectors. In the 1960's popularity and rising price gave birth to a mass of reproductions that hurt the market. With the advent of the internet, better references, and new legions of collectors, old Carnival Glass has regained popularity and is one of America's most sought-after antique lines.
"You see, Sylvestor," Thinkwhile said. "This Carnival Glass punchbowl is not only an imitation, it likewise has an imitation name!"
"It's also has a big crack!" Sylvestor said, pointing to a faint hairline in the base.
The flea market dealer would not return Thinkwhile's money. "I sold it AS FOUND!" he said.
Thinkwhile eyed his near worthless bowl and realized he had stung himself.
"Can we go to a REAL Carnival now?" Sylvestor asked.
"Gladly," his uncle replied.