Let's Reduce Confusion! Etched Depression Glass vs. Depression Glass vs Elegant Glass Confused by the terms in glass listings online? Wonder what “Etched Depression Glass” is? Is your glass “Depression Glass”? Let’s look at a few terms to make buying online safer and more enjoyable.
News-Antique.com - May 14,2007 - Depression glass was made roughly from the late 1920s to about 1941, covering the Great Depression of the 1930s. Glass makers developed mass production techniques that allowed them to make attractive glass cheaply and without hand work, making it so inexpensive that companies used depression glass as premiums and giveaways in everything from oatmeal to soap to flour. Movie theatres gave away glass each week and patrons could accumulate sets over time.
Glass companies such as Federal or Jeannette developed pretty patterns and designs and colors such as amber, topaz (yellow), green, blue, aquamarine (turquoise), rose and red. Much of the glass came in a wide variety of shapes, often including dinner sets, lunch sets, serving pieces, decorative bowls and plates. This glass was not high quality; glass was not as clear as fine crystal produced by firms like Heisey or Fostoria and the seams were often raised. Many pieces had little bobbles or wrinkles.
The term “Depression Glass” refers to glass made from about 1928 to 1940, mass produced, and available in colors and often in crystal or white. Depression glass is particularly popular to collect because it is beautiful and it is fun to select a pattern, and then seek out all the pieces you need to have a full dinner set or one of every item.
The term “Etched” means a recessed design on glass. Etchings apply a design to glass where the glass is coated with wax and a design is traced through the wax. The glass is treated with acid. The acid can eat through the glass where the design was traced on the but it cannot dissolve the wax. When the wax is removed the design shows as inset into the glass surface. There are many ways to make the designs. The common point is that the design is recessed into the glass.
Some depression glass patterns have fanciful raised designs, such as Hocking’s Mayfair (pictured above) or Jeannette’s Cherry Blossom. These pieces look etched at first glance, but they are actually mold etched. Remember, depression glass was mass produced by machines that pressed molten glass into molds. To make the pretty designs the glass companies coated the molds with wax, and then applied a design on the mold – not on the glass - treated the molds with acid, then removed the wax. Just as with etched glass, the design was inset into the mold.
With the design being inset in the mold, the finished pieces of glass will have the designs raised above the surface of the glass. One way to distinguish “depression glass” is to check whether the design is above the surface. If it’s above the surface then you have “mold etched depression glass”.
Not all depression glass is mold etched. Some patterns had geometric motifs like spirals, raised diamonds, dots and ribs that were pressed designs. The molds were shaped to quickly produce these by normal pressed glass techniques. Examples are Hocking’s Waterford/Waffle or Jeannette’s Windsor. These patterns also