The History of Fenton Glass

The History of Fenton Glass

Vintage Fenton glass holds a significant place in the history of American glassmaking, and it is known for its exquisite craftsmanship, vibrant colors, and distinctive patterns.

Founding of Fenton Art Glass Company

Fenton Glass Company was founded in 1905 by brothers Frank L. Fenton and John W. Fenton in Williamstown, West Virginia. Initially, the company produced glass blanks that were sold to other glass companies for decoration. However, they soon began producing their own decorated glassware.

Early Production

In the early years, Fenton produced a wide range of glassware, including carnival glass, stretch glass, and opalescent glass. Their Carnival glass, introduced in 1907, became particularly popular due to its iridescent colors and intricate patterns.

Depression Era

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Fenton faced economic challenges like many other glass companies. To survive, they adapted by producing more affordable glassware, including items such as hobnail glass, which featured raised, rounded bumps.

Innovation and Expansion

Throughout the mid-20th century, Fenton continued to innovate and expand its product line. They introduced new colors, patterns, and techniques, including the iconic Hobnail pattern in the 1930s and the Coin Dot pattern in the 1940s. Other popular patterns included Silver Crest, Cranberry Opalescent, and Burmese.

Artistry and Collectibility

Fenton became known for its skilled artisans who handcrafted each piece of glassware. Collectors appreciated the quality and beauty of Fenton glass, and the company gained a dedicated following of enthusiasts.

Decline and Closure

In the late 20th century and early 21st century, Fenton faced challenges from changing consumer preferences and increased competition from foreign manufacturers. In 2007, the company ceased traditional glassmaking operations at its Williamstown plant, marking the end of an era for American art glass. However, they continued to produce glass items through partnerships and limited-edition runs.


Despite the closure of its traditional glassmaking facilities, the legacy of Fenton glass lives on through collectors and enthusiasts around the world. Vintage Fenton glass remains highly sought after for its craftsmanship, beauty, and historical significance.

Overall, vintage Fenton glass represents a rich tradition of American artistry and craftsmanship. From its early days of producing carnival glass to its later innovations in patterns and colors, Fenton made a lasting impact on the world of glassmaking.

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