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Carnival Glass: Millersburg Glass Company

by Mary Haberstroh

One of the two men who helped establish the Fenton Glasss Company, John Fenton, branched out in 1909 to start the Millersburg Glass Company in Millersburg, Ohio. Like his brother Frank, John also had a certain vision of creating beautiful art glass that was sure to be popular with the public and while he utilized some of the same techniques, he also created new ones that were later emulated by other glass companies, particularly the process known as "radium" treated glass. This process was to be an improvement on the common iridized procedure used by Fenton, Northwood, and Dugar, which made a piece of carnival glass shine highly when held up to the light. The layer of iridescence applied was much thinner than that used by other companies, allowing the color of the glass to remain visible underneath the metallic oxide treatment. At first glance, the radium carnival glass looks like it is submerged in water due to its high reflecting surface. Millersburg's radium glass soon became highly sought after in 1910 when this carnival glass was made available to the public. In addition to the radium iridized technique, Millersburg also created satin finish as well as pastel carnival glass. John Fenton was a visionary and hopeful to have a successful company like the one his brother Frank operated but by 1913 he was forced to sell Millersburg to another glass company due to bankruptcy. Even though Millersburg Glass only operated for five years, enough glass was produced to maintain an interest in collecting for its high quality iridescent radium sheen.

Millersburg Amethyst Hanging Cherries pitcher.
Photo courtesy of ebay seller Sunflower911

The first pressed glass patterns made for carnival glass were Ohio Star and Hobnail. While other glass companies came out with similar Hobnail patters, Millersburg's Hobnail was very simple as an allover pattern, with each hobnail line placed on an angle from the top of the glass piece to its botttom. Variations of Hobnail with other designs soon followed. The primary carnival glass colors Millersburg used were green, amethyst, and marigold, with a few pieces in blue or pastel shades. Some of the Millersburg glass patterns are similar to Fenton's. The Peacock and Urn pattern made by Millersburg is tighter, placing the surrounding leaves and flowers closer to the central peacock, plus the pedestal bearing the urn lacks the six pointed leaves the Fenton version has. The Cherries pattern by Millersburg hang lower towards the base than the pattern of the same name by Fenton.

As with early Fenton pieces, none of the Millersburg carnival glass was signed in any way. To date, one book was published on the company titled "Millersburg Glass as I know it" by Marie McGee. The Millersburg patterns remain unique in that none of them have ever been reproduced, making these carnival glass patterns a valuable addition to any carnival glass collection.

Some of the patterns Millersburg Glass produced were:

Acorn. This design of oak leaves and acorns was made into berry compotes in the colors amethyst, green, and marigold.

Big Fish. This design of a large trout swimming at the bottom of the sea, complete with seaweed and coral. This pattern was made in plates, bowl, and ice cream bowls in amethyst, green, and marigold.

Blackberry Wreath. This design of five blackberries on a wreath of blackberry leaves was used in plates, berry compotes, fruit bowls, and ice cream bowls in amethyst, green, marigold, and blue.

Boutonierre. This design of a five petal flower in the center of a a group of embossed rays was used only in berry compotes in the colors amethyst, green and marigold.

Cherries. Also known as Hanging Cherries, this design has three sprigs of cherries arranged in a circle. This pattern was used in plates, bowls, berry bowl, ice cream bowls, water pitcher and tumbler sets, compotes, covered butter dishes, sugar and creamer sets. The colors primarily used for this pattern are green, marigold and amethyst with some of the bowls in blue.

Diamonds. This design of large diamonds decorated water pitcher and tumbler sets. Each diamond shape is outlined with a zipper-like appearance. Colors used in this pattern were amethyst, marigold, green, with some tumblers in teal.

Feather and Heart. This design of vertical feathers with upside down hearts at the base was made into water pitchers and tumblers in amethyst, green, and marigold.

Fleur de Lis. This design of a four petal flower in the center flanked by four more flowers around it in a diamond shape, has fleur de lis interspersed between the flowers at the edges. This pattern was used in fruit and ice cream bowls in amethyst, green, and marigold.

Grape Leaves. This design of one bunch of grapes in the center with four bunches of grapes surrounding it was made in bowls in green, amethyst, and marigold.

Mayan. This design resembles a large plume that was found in the headdresses of Mayan chiefs. Six plumes surround a disk in the center. Ice cream bowls were made with this pattern in green and olive green.

Morning Glory. This pattern of morning glories on a vine was made in water pitchers and tumblers. Amethyst and marigold were the colors used for Morning Glory.

Seaweed. This design of spirals looking like long slender waves in a circle has seaweed in a wreath around the spirals. This pattern was used in bowls, ice cream bowls, plates, and sauce dishes. Colors used in this pattern were: amethyst, blue, aqua, green, and marigold.

Some price values for Millersburg patterns:

Blackberry Wreath plate, amethyst glass, $80.00.
Diamond seven piece water pitcher and tumbler set in amethyst, $700.00.
Grape Leaves, emerald green glass, ruffled edged square bowl, 8" in size. $4,000.00.
Hobnail, rose bowl vase in marigold, $100.00.

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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