Marvelous Milk Glass

Marvelous Milk Glass
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Growing up in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, I associated Milk Glass as granny-glass. Images of little old ladies sipping tea at lace covered tables adorned with flower filled white vases, clouded my “oh-so-chic” teenage mind. I mean come on, I was stylin’ in my totally rad neon legwarmers and aqua-net hair, and I knew what was “in” and what wasn’t! I admit my judgment for truly tasteful items was quite flawed back in the day, but I have thankfully formed an adult appreciation for this marvelous milk glass!

Millk Glass and raspberries

Let’s talk a little about the history of Milk Glass. Milk glass originated around the 16th century in Venice, Italy. The glass of that time came in many colors. By the 19th century, glass makers referred to it as opaque glass. It was considered a high class, luxury item and became very popular among the elite in French society.

Hobnail planter (533x800)

The American Gilded Age of the 20th century held some of the best made milk glass ever. Wealthy Americans displayed their delicate milk glass as a stylish symbol of stature. By the 1930’s up to the 1960’s, milk glass became common place, mass produced, and lost it’s refined appeal. Milk Glass from the 50’s- 60’s era can be often considered less valuable, but war time pieces and those that precede it hold the highest values.

milk glass storage

BHG

Not all milk glass is white! Some colors of milk glass you might run across today are white, pink, blue, green, brown, and black. Determining the time era from which a piece might have come is quite difficult for the average collector, because not all pieces have identifying markings. Some popular manufacturers of the past were Westmorland, Dunbar, Kanawha, Raymond Dereume, and Imperial Glass Companies. Fenton, Fostoria, and the Mosser Glass Company are current manufacturers.

Milk glass from the 1840’s was made with arsenic to give it a very opaque white color. This also made it opalescent. They sometimes used lead in the glass up until 1870. Those pieces will create a bell sound when struck. The most common additive, which gave the glass it’s milky hue is fluorite. Fluorite is florescent and will glow under ultraviolet light.  In the 1960’s the EPA banned the use of fluorite because of evidence of it leaking into the rivers and polluting our water systems. After this, production of milk glass obviously dropped off and manufactures had to find newer and safer methods to produce the glass.

milk-glass-dry-goods-shop1106-de

Country Living

You can find milk glass at garage and estate sales, thrift stores, and maybe even your mother’s cupboards. Milk glass and milk glass look-a-likes are returning in popularity today. Their crisp white color and bumpy texture sets off simple floral arrangements and is a must have in shabby-chic or cottage décor.

Milk glass and tulips

Do you love milk glass? Are you a collector? What pieces do you treasure?

Kim

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Comments

  1. Those are beautiful! I bought my first piece of milk glass from a garage sale last year- didnt think I would use it or like it that much, but it has now become one of my favorite go-to pieces.

  2. I love white milk glass! I have a couple pieces and would love more!
    Debbie

  3. I have a pretty candy dish of milk glass. It was my mother’s. I treasure it so much.

  4. Kim
    Guilty as charged – I have a big milk glass collection! Here’s some of mine (I’ve added on since this pic was taken)!
    http://www.eclecticallyvintage.com/4/post/2011/11/milk-glass-collection-it-started-innocently-enough.html

    Thanks for the history too!
    Kelly

  5. I learned a lot by reading this post, it was all really interesting, thanks for the info. I just have one milk glass bowl that was a gift, I really love it!

  6. Such pretty decorative pieces! Milk glass is one of my favorite things! And what beautiful flowers, too 🙂

  7. I really love milk glass vases and inherited a bunch from my grandmother. I use them a lot and enjoy them very much. I wish I had more compotes and other decorative pieces. I definitely look for milk glass when I antique or thrift shop.

    • What a lucky girl! I’d love to come across some larger pieces. I think the classic white is makes them so useful and sets off whatever we place in them. Thanks for stopping by the blog!

  8. I love that top picture! So pretty… I am partial to the hobnails.

  9. I love milk glass! I have collected quite a few pieces over the past couple of years, many given to me by my Mom.

  10. So nice to read such a well-researched post. I bet you were an A+ student back when you had that Aqua-Net hairdo.

    I love milk glass, too. It’s common, so prices aren’t out of sight. Most of what I have I’ve found at thrift stores and garage sales. This post makes me think I should add to my small collection.

  11. Thanks for the info, and yes I collect it from yard sales. I have several narrow vases and some flower pot type and footed pieces. They are currently all in our master bath, used for display and storage.

  12. I love milk glass! It’s so pretty. Amazingly it goes pretty cheap at the thrift stores!

  13. I love Milk Glass. So elegant yet timeless. 🙂

  14. I have a set of small hobnail milk glass bedside lamps that I inherited from my Great-great Uncle Bob. He was a lovely gentleman, and I think of him every time I see them. I recently added a beautiful little candy dish that I found when I was thrifting.