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Carnival Glass: Imperial Glass Company

by Mary Haberstroh

The Imperial Glass Company of Bellaire Ohio was founded by Edward Muhleman in 1902. They started making carnival glass the same time Northwood and Fenton did, in 1910. The first sheen they used to create an iridescent effect on the outside of their pressed glass was called "marigold iridescence." A Bohemian glass decorator employed at the company created this process but failed to patent it. Within the next few years, Imperial made other iridescent glass in red, amethyst, blue, green, white, smoke, and a color known as "helios" which was a green and silver iridized color. Imperial also came out with some pastel colors such as lavender and peach for carnival glass. In 1916 Imperial created two lines of carnival ware called "Imperial Art Ware" and "Imperial Jewels" after the style of Tiffany luster ware. Only a few early carnival pieces were marked by Imperial, with the name of the company written across the top and bottom of an iron cross as such: IM PE RI AL with each of the two letters occupying one section of the cross. Other patterns can easily be identified using the Imperial Glass Encyclopedia which is a three volume set.

Imperial Glass closed in 1984, but up to that time Imperial continued to make glass from their old molds, new molds, and molds they purchased from Heisey Glass and Cambridge Glass when those companies went out of business. At one point in the company's history, they were owned by Lenox and produced beautiful decorative china.

Imperial manufactured candy dishes, compotes, vases, berry dish sets, tumblers, pitchers, sugar bowls and creamers, and candle holders in carnival glass. Their carnival glass remains popular with collectors today.

Imperial Acanthus Leaf pattern, footed bowl.
Photo courtesy of Art Glass and Collectibles Shop.

Acanthus. This pattern has acanthus leaves in a swirl from the center to the very edge of the bowl or chop plate. The bowls have round feet on them and came in aqua, amethyst, marigold, smoke, champagne, and green; the chop plates came in marigold and smoke.

Blaze. This pattern is geometric in shape with leaves, fans, and hexagons. It was made in berry bowls and sauce bowls with ruffled edges. The colors Blaze was made in were: marigold, amethyst, smoke, and champagne.

Brocaded Daffodils. This pattern resembles a brocade or jacquard of daffodils. It was made in sugar and creamer sets with a matching tray, bowls, compotes, plates, mayonnaise bowl, cake plate, and bob bon tray. A number of the pieces were made with gold trim, particularly the ones in white glass. Other colors this pattern came in were pink and ice green.

Chatelaine. This pattern is geometric, with two medallions on top of each other framed with a fan on top and two double rows of rectangles on either side. A pitcher and tumbler water set was made with this pattern and came primarily in amethyst.

Chesterfield. This pattern is modern in design, having simple lines with a scalloped edge at the top row that ends about an inch from the edge of the mug and a half inch from the tumbler and compotes. Mugs, bowls, rose vases, candle holders, cream and sugar sets, water pitcher and tumbler sets, compotes, and toothpick holders were made in this pattern. No complete set is known to made in one color but pieces exist in marigold, red, white, and aqua.

Chrysanthemum. This pattern has a large chrysanthemum with flowers and a Greek key design bordering the edge of the chop plate. Chop plates are the only pieces known to have this pattern and they came in green, amethyst, smoke, white.

Cobblestones. This pattern resembles granulated beads packed tightly together. Ruffled bowls were made with this design on the inside, with the outside having a series of scallops across the bowl. This bowl was made in amethyst, green, champagne, marigold, and lavender.

Fashion. This pattern is another geometric one, containing hexagons, sprays of leaves, and an ornate edge bordering the entire design. Water pitcher and tumbler sets, and punch bowls with cups were made in smoke, amethyst, and marigold.

Fleur de Lis. This pattern has a fleur de lis shape on the top and bottom of a band. It was made in a vase, ruffled edged bowl, and a round bowl in marigold.

Four Seventy Four. Despite its unusual name, this pattern is of a daisy combined with small medallions set inside triangular cuts in the glass. The name is after the original number in old Imperial catalogs - 474. Water pitcher and tumbler sets, punch bowl and cup sets, sherbet dishes, and water goblets were made with this pattern. Pieces came in: amethyst, marigold, green, and blue.

Heavy Diamonds. This pattern has an all over faceted diamond design. Vases and sugar and cream sets were made with this pattern in marigold and smoke. The vases, even though they are colored, have a clear glass round foot, creating a striking contrast.

Hobstar and Tassle. This pattern has a hobstar shape made of hexagons surrounded by a ribbon with tassles on the ends. Berry bowls with ruffled edges were made in this design, color amethyst.

Pansy. This pattern is of an embossed pansy. Bowls, plates, pickle dishes, cream and sugar sets, and dresser trays were made with this design. Pansy came in the colors amethyst, aqua, white, teal, marigold, blue, smoke, and lavender.

Shell and Sand. This pattern has scallop shells with tiny grains resembling sand. Plates and bowls were made with this pattern in aqua, green, marigold, amethyst, and smoke.

Tiger Lily. This pattern is of a tiger lily with tall stems and leaves, made in water pitcher and tumbler sets. The colors this pattern came in were: aqua, green, teal, marigold, amethyst.

Some price values for Imperial carnival glass:

Four Seventy Four punch bowl with cups set, 8 piece, amethyst, $4,300.00.
Fashion water pitcher in amethyst, $700.00.
Tiger Lily 7-piece water set in teal, $230.00.
Daisy basket with handle in smoke, $70.00.
Scroll embossed plate in amethyst, $300.00.

About the Author

Mary Haberstroh lives in Tucson, Arizona and she is a collector of millefiori paperweights. She can be reached at: daryavaush@yahoo.com

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