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Introduction   ·   How Carnival Was Made   ·   Glass Process   ·   Early Makers   ·   Finding Carnival   ·   Colors   ·   Carnival Glass Edges   ·   Buying Carnival   ·   Carnival Terms   ·   Glass Terms   ·   Reference Books   ·   What is This?   ·   FAQ   ·   Sharing Carnival   ·   Links   ·   Closing
Finding Carnival
Finding Carnival

First of all, I would like to say that NO ONE really owns carnival glass.  We are only its safe keepers for a short period of time.  I help teach recycling in Mason County.  A glass bottle buried in a landfill will biodegrade in 1000 years.  Glass, treated with care is basically immortal.  That piece of carnival you hold in your hand and gaze at in wonder will be held by someone else 100 years, 500 years even 1000 years from now.  Please treat it with the care and respect it deserves so it can be enjoyed by others for MANY generations to come. Having said this, where do you find this beautiful, vintage glass.  Let's explore the possibilities.  Before looking anywhere, arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible.  You are going to need it.

Antique Shops
My experience with finding any worthwhile carnival in antique shops has been near zero.  The majority of antique dealers are well meaning but not very knowledgeable when it comes to carnival glass.  I was in a shop last week and the pickins' were mighty slim.  They had a collection of blue carnival (Indiana Glass from the 70's) labeled as Imperial and though the dealer did not come right out and say it, he hinted that it was vintage carnival.  There was an old, unmarked Imperial Lustre Rose bowl in marigold the dealer identified to me as the "Rose Show" pattern by Northwood.  There were a few other pieces of vintage carnival but they were well worn.  After collecting carnival for nearly 30 years, I have found this scenario to be fairly typical.  If you are on vacation and there are antique stores nearby, hey, why not, check them out?  You never know what you will find but ,they have never been a steady source of nice vintage carnival.  Most do have a fairly nice selection of newer carnival and if you like it, buy it.  There is nothing wrong with mixing the old with the new.  My personal carnival glass collection contains several pieces of beautiful, newer carnival but I am well aware that they are newer carnival.  The following link deals EXTENSIVELY with reproductions, new patterns and fakes.  Know what you are buying.

Reproductions, New Patterns and Fakes

Estate Sales
I have found estate sales to be a little better than antique shops, especially the ones which specifically mention carnival glass in their ad.  The majority of the time it is newer carnival but every once in a while you run across an estate sale with a nice selection of vintage carnival.  Running from estate sale to estate sale can be time consuming and exhausting.  Again, if you have the time and the energy, go for it.  You may run across some nice pieces.  Remember to check each piece VERY carefully for damage or repairs.

Flea Markets, Garage Sales, Swap Meets
A big zero for vintage carnival.  You will find things like the top to a Jeannette Glass Co. "Bambi" powder jar sitting on a carnival glass ashtray.  A friend of mine did find the top to a Northwood Sweetmeat compote sitting on the bottom to an Indiana Carnival glass jar.  Whatever you find will usually be mismatched pieces.  Again, time consuming and not very fruitful.

The Internet
The internet has opened up a whole new world for carnival glass collectors.  There is carnival glass EVERYWHERE on the internet.  There are internet shops and auctions sites with a beautiful selection of vintage carnival.  For many carnival glass collectors it is like hitting the "mother lode".  The amount of carnival reels the senses and boggles the mind.  But before you place that bid or hit that buy it now or purchase order button there are quite a few things to take into consideration.  Basically you are buying this item "sight unseen".  Always ASK QUESTIONS.

Every auction site or web site has a link to e-mail the seller.  If there are not adequate pictures, ask for more.  Ask if there are any manufacturer's marks.  If the item is not fully described, ask for more details.  If the price seems high, ask them how they arrived at their price (some exceptional pieces command a higher price).  If there is damage or repairs mentioned, ask for detailed pictures of the damage or repair.  Ask about their return policy. You can get a good "feel" from their answers if the seller is knowledgeable about carnival glass or not.
It is important too, to ask the shipping cost.  Some sellers will try to attract you with extremely low prices and then tack on handling fees, bubble wrap fees, etc.  Ask the shipping charges so you have a total picture of the costs involved.  Some auction sites have seller feedback.  These are the comments previous buyers have left for this seller.  If there are a lot of negative comments (unhappy buyers) chances are you will be an unhappy buyer too.  It is best to move on no matter how attractive the carnival glass item looks.  When considering ANY carnival glass item look for:

 Iridescent quality…………even distribution of the applied color, allowing for no bare spots, or wear on the surface.

Iridescence is the Essence of collecting Carnival Glass. When that is of poor quality, displaying weak application, much in the way of scratches, etc., or worn places, where rubbing has taken place, the price should be lower than for one of better quality.

Example of poor coloration, i.e., worn iridescence = vases which only display iridescence on the upper half . This is not as desirable as a vase with a fully iridized outer surface!

But remember too.............the better the quality, the higher the price.  Buy the best pieces you can afford.

Last but not least and something I consider VERY important.  ASK HOW THE ITEM WILL BE PACKED FOR SHIPPING.  There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a beautiful piece of vintage carnival in pieces.  Remember, this glass has survived nearly 100 years.  If you choose to buy it on the internet and it arrives broken, YOU are partially responsible for the breakage IF you do not inquire on how it will be packed for shipping.  ALWAYS ask how it will be packed.  The proven and safest method of shipping glass is double boxing with cushioning between the walls of the inner and outer box.  The glass item rides snug like a baby in its mother's womb.  I have shipped carnival glass for 3 years using this method and I have never had a piece arrive broken.  If need be, instruct the seller on how you want the item packed especially if they are new or do not normally sell glass.  Most welcome the instructions.

Most of the above was written by me, Donna Adler.  I will let Diane Fry take it from here.  Listen up.  What she says makes a great deal of sense:


 Considering the fact that there are more than 400 patterns to collect in the vintage variety, one might conclude that almost any antique store would have a selection to choose from. However, if in entering a mall/shop, someone is sitting at a computer, you can feel reasonably certain that any piece of Glass of interest, is being sold in that manner!

The field of collecting described in this summary has four major auctioneers with extensive knowledge who conduct consignment/estate sales on a regular basis. The offering includes up to 350 various selections each time. The scope of these auctions encompass the Country from cities along the East Coast, to Columbus, Ohio, to St. Louis and Boonville, MO , Texas and on to California and Oregon. These same auctioneers conduct auctions in conjunction with the annual  Collectors Club Conventions around the Country.

Wonderfully, beautiful displays of Carnival Glass are set up in individual rooms at whatever hotel a given convention is being staged in. Avid Collectors of this “habit forming”  medium, thoroughly enjoy sharing it and discussing it with other collectors!.....They are among the MOST friendly, HELPFUL folk you could hope to meet!...........In those same rooms, can be found; some very nice selections of privately owned Carnival Glass ~ FOR SALE!

Conventions are well-worth the time to attend, for it is under these auspices that comparisons of the Glass can BEST be attained, affording you the privilege of deciding for yourself, just HOW you want your collection to look, and what colors of (base glass) please your tastes.  For many of us, the artistic patterns create the desire to purchase.

Membership in many of the Clubs is $15-$18 annually, for those meeting and providing quarterly newsletters. Heart of America mails a monthly newsletter with educational articles. Their dues are $35 annually.

Our endeavor in providing this scope of information is to encourage you to make the most you possibly can of all the opportunities which have been developed and promoted over the past forty years, as a result of the dedication and effort put forth by previous generations of collectors.

There is an innate need within many of us, as contributing human beings, which calls out to the fact that preservation of what has gone before us is part of our duty as we trek along life's path.  It is our sincere hope that you find the necessary ingredients of desire to fulfill that call, in what has been provided here. Those of us who enjoy sharing knowledge, assert a passion we like to think is “infectious”………Happy Carnival Hunting!  I hope to meet you somewhere along the trail!................Sincerely, Diane Fry

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Contemporary Carnival Glass Catalogs
Great Reference for Newer Carnival Glass.
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