Who made it? Where? And Why "Carnival" glass?
Elsewhere, we list all the currently known makers of Classic (old) Carnival Glass around the world - it’s a very long list, and our research is continuing to discover previously unknown makers. Most, but by no mean all, Classic Carnival does not have a maker's mark (trademark), but there are many exceptions that collectors need to know about. They are all to be found here: Makers Marks on Classic Carnival.
The main makers
In the USA there were five major producers: Fenton, Northwood, Imperial, Millersburg and Dugan-Diamond. There were other US producers too, that made smaller amounts, such as Westmoreland and United States Glass.
In Europe the main makers were Sowerby (England), Brockwitz (Germany), Inwald (the former Czechoslovakia), Riihimaki (Finland), Eda Glasbruk (Sweden) and Hortensja (Poland). Just as with the USA, there were many other producers in these and other countries in Europe.
In Australia it’s easy – Crown Crystal made the Carnival Glass.
It is not straightforward with production in India as there were several: research is very difficult and proof is not easy to find. The main maker was undoubtedly Jain of Firozabad.
In South America there were several, two of which were Rigolleau (Argentina) and Esberard (Brazil). More are being discovered - our News and Features page will keep you up to date with new developments.
Collectors' interest in Classic Carnival created a demand for contemporary production, starting around the 1970s. Two of the US makers of Classic Carnival - Fenton and Imperial - revived the art and techniques of making Carnival and many other makers, seeing the growth of the modern collectibles market, also started production. Modern Carnival is still being made, although the last remaining maker from the Classic days - Fenton - has since ceased production.
Take the worldwide tour of Classic Carnival Glass makers from our homepage, or with this link: Carnival Glass Makers.
Why is it called Carnival Glass?
The popular belief is that it has become known as Carnival Glass because it was given away or used as prizes at fairgrounds / carnivals. There is no doubt that a lot of Carnival Glass was used in this way, possibly due to an oversupply or an excess of poorer quality items being available in the 1920s and 1930s.
It is also worth stressing that a lot of Carnival Glass was aimed at domestic buyers, at home-owners who saw this amazing new ornamental glassware as a way of brightening up their homes. Whilst many Carnival Glass objects were designed with a purely practical purpose (bowls, plates, vases, waters sets and so on), the adverts from the time it was being made emphasise its decorative qualities. We have two main features elsewhere - "Sell it to me!" and "Read All About It" - which take a unique look at how Carnival Glass was sold to the public, for example by mail order companies like Lee Manufacturing Co., and advertised in the local newspapers and journals of the day.
But ..... back to the question of why it was called Carnival Glass. We have found lots of information to show that the name was arrived at more by association than by other means. A very popular trade journal of the day, called The Billboard, which originated as paper for the bill posting industry, became a significant source of news, adverts and information for circuses, carnivals, amusement parks, fairs and more. From an early date, at least as early as 1915, it portrayed an association of iridescent glass with products and services for the carnival trade, and over time, the name "Carnival Glass" stuck (which, with hindsight is very fortunate, given some of the other names that have been used!).
There are some amazing - and funny - ads and snippets from The Billboard - see them all here or click on the image below.