Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Buying Vintage Decorated Glass Tumblers And Pitchers

A Basic Guide For Collectors Of Vintage Kitchen Glassware

Many collectors of vintage kitchen-wares enjoy collecting glass tumblers which is the name used by glass companies beginning in the 1920s-1930s. If you go back to the company catalogs of the major glass producers you will note that the term "Decorative Tumblers" is used to describe glassware of a variety of sizes and uses.

Who Were The Major Glass Companies That Made Decorative Tumblers?

Anchor Hocking Corp.
Bartlett-Collins Co.
Federal Glass Co.
Hazel Atlas
Libbey Glass
West Virginia Glass Specialty Co.

Glass Companies Began Adding Designs To Glass By Hand

Most companies began decorating tumblers in the 1920s-1930 adding designs "by hand". If you can picture this, each band, flower, fruit or pattern painted on a glass was carefully done one at a time by a team of craftswomen. Some companies might have 100 women employed painting on glassware.

Products Categories (Any Names) Listed Kitchen Glassware Catalogs

When you look through old glassware company catalogs you will find that each company used a different term for the same items. For example, one company might refer to a pitcher and glasses
as a "Refreshment Set", while another company might use the term "Ice Tea Set" . Here is a list of
terms used by glassware companies during the 1930s-1960s.

Decorated Cocktail Tumblers
After Five Sets
High Balls
Ice Tea Sets
Lemonade sets
Refreshment Sets
Serving Sets
Decorated Glassware
Hostess Tumblers
Juice Tumblers
Glass jugs
Beverage Sets
Juice Sets

Coordinated Glass Products Made By Glassware Companies

Most companies in addition to making decorated glass tumblers of all sizes and purposes (cocktails, juice, dinner etc) also made coordinated patterned jugs or pitchers, utility jars or provision jars, cookie jars, cocktail shakers, ice tubs or buckets, decanters, juice reamers, refrigerator jars etc.

From Hand Painted Beverage Glassware To Mass Produced

Companies like Bartlett-Collins continued to decorate glasses by hand for generations, even when machinery took over for many other companies. In the middle of the 1930s, there was a tremendous increase in tumblers, sparked by the develop of machines and the introduction of Swanky Swigs.

1933 Swanky Swigs : Kraft Cheese Premium

"Swankswigs" a name Kraft Cheese would give to the reusable tumblers of their cheese spread product. . Many companies copied and competed with Hazel Atlas, the first company that made "Swankyswigs". Glasses were first decorated by hand and than using other techniques including "Rotary" (turning a glass on a turret) , "Rubber Stamp" (rubber stencil dipped in glue) , "Squegee'" (stencil and screen) and later Silk screening.

Vintage Peanut Butter Glasses By Boscul Peanut Butter Company

Another popular premium which is highly collected are Peanut Butter glasses which contained Boscul Peanut Butter and was distributed by The William Scull Company. A terrific reference guide on this topic is written by Barbara E Mauzy, "Peanut Butter Glasses (Schiffer).

Many Glass Companies Made The Same Pattern Of Decorated Tumblers

When you start paying attention to vintage beverage glasses you will find that many companies made similar looking glasses. Common patterns might be bands, flowers, dots, spirals, Nautical, Scottie dogs, lattice, playing card symbols, diamonds, checkerboard, birds, leaves, abstracts etc.

Common Marks On Vintage Gla
ss Tumblers And Beverage Glasses

To differentiate different glass makers, you look at the markings on the glass, the shape and the style. Hazel Atlas has the letter "A" inside the letter "H". Libbey glass is marked with a circle around the letter "L", Federal Glass has the letter "F' in a shield and some Anchor Hocking is marked with the letter "H" over an anchor.

Yellow glasses shown are Swankyswigs, 1950s, Federal Glass Company. Photo Courtesy of Retro Revival.

Juice decanter/bottle 1950s, unmarked. Photo Courtesy of Retro Revival.

Blue Morning Glory glass (top) , 1950s, Boscul Peanut Butter premium glass. Photo Courtesy of Retro Revival.

and aqua beverage set courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/jjcmnspencer/3204253689/

Scottie Glass photo courtesy of http://www.retro-redheads.com/index.php?p=home

Rooster glasses photo courtesy of http://www.retro-redheads.com/index.php?p=home

Violet Swanky Swig glasses photo of http://www.retro-redheads.com/index.php?p=home

Boxed set of glasses

Utility Jars (Provision Jars) photo of http://www.flickr.com

C. Dianne Zweig
is the author of Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s and Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes. She is also the Editor of I Antique Online an actively growing internet based resource community for people who buy, sell or collect antiques, collectibles and art. You can find Dianne’s fabulous retro and vintage kitchen, home and cottage collectibles at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT, a 22,000 feet antique emporium with an in-house retro cafĂ©.To read more articles by C. Dianne Zweig click on this link: C. Dianne Zweig’s Blog Kitsch ‘n Stuff Email me at dianne@cdiannezweig.comVisit my website, CDianneZweig.comDianne is a member of:The American Society of Journalists and AuthorsThe Society of Professional Journalists


  1. Nice post and pictures! I have a lot of the same glasses!

  2. I love them all!

    Susan and Bentley

  3. No wonder I have a hard time tagging them at the shop. The manufacturers used a gazillion different names. I bet they never thought that they would be this popular nowadays. Lovely post!

  4. Thanks for posting this--I love these glasses and it's fun to learn all the history behind them. My favorites are the scotty dog glasses!

  5. Great post - thank you! I am in love with colorful vintage tumblers. I only have 3 or 4 different designs - but they add a bit of sunshine to my day every time I use them!

  6. This is great! I've been wondering about the term Swanky Swigs. I'm never sure how to tell if a glass is just a tumbler, or if it held peanut butter or cheese though.
    I have that large lidded blue/green morning glory jar, and it's smaller companion in yellow/orange. Not sure of the maker.
    Thank you so much! I'm now following :)

  7. Hi! I was wondering what you think of these? Dairy glasses?


  8. Hi! I was wondering what you thought of these? Dairy glasses?