Collecting Fostoria American Glassware

Fostoria glassware was, for most of the 20th century, one of the main types of fine quality blown stemware used in American homes. The ‘American’ pattern, recognizable by its cubic pattern, was very popular and resulted in the Fostoria company being the largest maker of handmade glassware in the United States for many years. Today, since foreign competition ran them out of business, original vintage Fostoria American Glassware has become a popular collectible item.

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The Fostoria Glass Company took its name from Fostoria, Ohio, where it started operations in 1887. A few years later, better natural resource availability caused them to move to Moundsville, West Virginia. While they originally produced kerosene lamps, they moved into the production of high quality hand blown stemware by the early 1900’s. The distinctive American cubic pattern was introduced in 1915. In 1924, they began advertising nationally and their business took off, resulting in them delivering over 8 million pieces of glassware at their peak. However, as tastes changed and imports became more common in the 1980’s, their business model was no longer viable, resulting in the sale and end of the original company although pieces were still produced under contract with other companies through the 1990’s.

If you’re wanting to collect Fostoria American Glassware you should be aware of several characteristics that separate it from lower cost/quality versions made on contract as well as out and out replicas and imitations. Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristics of the original Fostoria glassware is the weight and clarity. True Fostoria pieces have a quality feel from the thick glass and well crafted cube edges that you can’t mistake. You also won’t find yellowing or other discoloration in this fine glassware. You will also find that most Fostoria American glassware was made with 3 part molds rather than the cheaper 2 part mold process used by replicas. Another feature to look for is a ground glass base rather than a pressed glass base.

When buying Fostoria American Glassware online, you should, as always, check the reputation of the seller and make sure that they have supplied ample photographs and description to satisfy you and, should you have any questions they should answer them quickly and accurately. Also make sure that they will be shipping your glassware purchase in a prompt and safe manner.

I hope this article has given you a good overview of collecting Fostoria American Glassware. If you have any questions about this glassware feel free to ask below in a comment.


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Comment by Hwould
2008-09-19 12:04:51

Hey Frank I found your post from the Academy. Anyway I never heard of vintage Fostoria American Glassware, but I can imagine that Fostorian American Crystal might be hard to find this day and age. Possibly making it quite valuable. Now thanks to this article my wife will keep her eye out for a specific Fostoria Glass Pattern.

Comment by jfc
2008-09-20 12:07:41

Hi Hwould,

Vintage Fostoria crystal is very nice. It’s heavy and feels so much more substantial than more modern replicas.

Of course the American pattern, while the most popular Fostoria pattern, isn’t the only one they produced. Other Fostoria patterns include Baroque, Betsy Ross, Buttercup, Century, Chintz, Colonial Dame, Colony, Coronet, Corsage, Glacier, Fairfax, Mayflower, Meadow Rose, Midnight Rose, Navarre, Willowmere, Heather and Jenny Lind.

Comment by JLPalmetto
2008-09-19 12:24:34

Wow, I was born not too far from Fostoria, Ohio and my husband’s sister just left West Virginia. One would think that somehow I’d know more about this topic than I do (LOL!), so I really appreciate your article.

I’ve always had an attraction to depression glassware– vintage glass, pressed glass, imperial glass, the pink and irridescent glass– all of it! But again, I confess, I’ve been ignorant, and your article has helped tremendously in helping me decide what I’m interested in.

I know there are a few other companies of this era– Cambridge Glass Company, Fenton Art Glass Company, Heisey Glass Company, in addition to Fostoria.

Fostoria, however, has nice appeal as seen on the eBay items– I can’t wait to look around at eBay for it. I would really like to start collecting it, particularly something like rare Fostoria that will be lost to history if it is not preserved.

Do you have any additional advice for someone interested in DEPRESSION GLASS, and most particularly in FOSTORIA CRYSTAL??


Comment by jfc
2008-09-20 12:11:38

Hi JLPalmetto,

Fostoria is popular with depression glass collectors. While it was popular with those who could afford it during the Great Depression it was also very popular in the 1950’s as modern suburbs and elegant in-home dinner parties became a part of American culture.

Comment by Home Based Business
2008-09-19 13:47:51

Another great article Frank. I didn’t know much about Fostoria American Glassware, or any collectible glass for that matter. You do such a wonderful job of summarizing the subject of your Buying Guide posts. For example, Fostoria American Glassware and how it was made, etc, is great information for Glass Collectors.

Is Fostoria American Glassware considered an ANTIQUE store item? I would imagine that ANTIQUE FOSTORIA AMERICAN GLASSWARE (or is it American Fostoria glassware) would be much more valuable to an antique collector. Other collectibles from that era can be considered Antique so I would imagine this depression glass would be as well.

Also, how can you tell if a piece is AUTHENTIC or not? Does it have markings?

Thanks for your recent post at the academy too!

Comment by jfc
2008-09-20 12:41:29

Hi Home Based Business,

Akismet doesn’t like you for some reason. Contact them and ask them to stop sending you to the spam folder. :(

The generally accepted cut-off date for antiques is 100 years. There are Fostoria pieces that old but the American Fostoria pattern was released until 1915 so it has a few more years before it’s considered ‘antique’. Vintage is the correct collectors term to apply to old stuff that’s older than 25 years but younger than 100 years.

It is common to find Fostoria glassware in antique consignment stores. Most of these pieces are from the 1950’s and 1960’s though. As I mentioned in the article, the 3 piece molding and ground glass bases are the most common Fostoria identification factors. Beyond that it gets into specific years and markings associated with those Fostoria products years. For that you’ll need a full blown reference book, either in print, online or in your head.

Comment by promotional mugs
2008-10-29 00:11:29

great info and very interesting, thanks

I’m sorry that I didn’t have anything else to add about American Fostoria Glassware and that I just wanted to use your post to spam for my site about mugs. I won’t be making that mistake again because if I post here again I’ll be sent automatically to Akismet. :(

2008-09-20 19:32:31

This was an email from my Mom who reads this blog from time to time

Now you are talking about something I have knowledge. I just sold the pitcher w/ice lip (flat bottom) for $50. The price guide says $85 but nobody is paying that. I also sold a butter dish this month for $18. I recently bought the pitcher, 8 goblets, and 8 plates from a lady that needed to sell things. I think the goblets will sell but I don’t think my plates will. I have already reduced them 50%. I did not know until I got them home that they had knife marks and were all very cloudy and that cannot be removed.

Remember I have my own ice tea goblets in that pattern that I have had for years. Lancaster Colony along with Dalzell Viking was reproducing this pattern. Lancaster also manufactured a pattern called Whitehall that some people think is American Fostoria. If you remember I had some amber ice teas in this-I did not like them but dad Dad and I think I got rid of them on this last move. He probably hid some.

Also another pattern that is often confused with American Fostoria is the Cube, “Cubist” pattern made by the Jeannette Glass Company from 1929-1933. Cube is less vibrant and wavy as compared to the brighter clearer of American Fostoria. Some pieces of the Cube are increasing in value due to the age and considering that it is depression glass.

Comment by Debbie
2009-11-17 21:44:52

Does the pitcher have 3 seams or two? I bought one but it seems yellowed to me.

Comment by Moving Abroad
2008-10-01 21:18:57

One of the issues for those on the move is to decide just which of their antiques and collectables to take with them and which to leave behind. I think if I had a collectoin of Fostoria American Glassware I would probably bring it with me. Do the prices of antiques and collectables vary between countries particularly for delicate items such as depression glassware which are expensive to transport and insure? I guess there is litte Fostoria American Glassware outside the US but it has universal appeal. Maybe I should import some Fostoria American Glassware to Australia?

Comment by Chris
2008-10-31 11:01:25

Hi, I recently inherited some clear American Fostoria. I absolutely love it. Can you recommend a book (or Internet site) that lists every piece of vintage Fostoria American? Some of the pieces I just don’t know what they are, so it would be nice to have a complete reference. In fact, in one of the boxes, I even found a photocopy of a 1940’s store pamplet (remember Gilchrist’s?) that shows selected pieces. Thanks for any help you can provide!

Comment by jfc
2008-10-31 11:29:07

Hi Chris,

The most complete reference I know of is the Complete Fostoria American Guide by Seligson but it is rather expensive. There are some other books around though that are less expensive although they aren’t as detailed in identifying some of the more unusual or rare Fostoria pieces.

Comment by Chris
2008-10-31 13:05:31

JFC - Thank you so much for the link. I will definitely buy that book. I would like to add pieces to my newly acquired collection…this could be bad!!! Thanks again.

Comment by Kathy Gallagher
2009-06-07 10:44:50

Hello! As I am now aging and downsizing, does anyone have a suggestion about the best way to sell some Fostoria American pieces - ? I am not the world’s best packer, so don’t want to try
eBay etc. where I’d have to pack and ship them — Thanks for any suggestions!

Comment by jfc
2009-06-07 11:36:33

Hi Kathy,

If you don’t want to sell on eBay your most profitable option would be to sell them at an local antiques market. You can usually rent a small showcase shelf for about $20 a month. You’ll also pay a percentage fee on each sale. If the staff there is good they may also help you price your Fostoria items well.

Another option if you want to sell a lot quick would be a local antiques auction. The fees would be higher but you would probably get an immediate sale if your items are good.

Comment by Kathy Gallagher
2009-06-11 08:54:48

Thank you! There are 2 or 3 antique mall sorts of places within 20 miles, so I will check out the availability and costs and see what’s what. Many thanks! Kathy

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Diana Cummins
2009-07-12 21:45:55

I think I let some deals on American get by me today at a flea market. Your description on what to look for in authentic pieces was very helpful. I would like to know what you mean by a “ground” versus a “pressed” base on pieces. Does that mean that there should be no pattern on the base of cream pitcher or sugar bowl?

Comment by Debbie
2009-11-17 21:49:43

Did you get an answer? I would like to know the difference also.

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