Q: I inherited six place settings of Normandie pattern Depression glass in iridescent marigold color. While I have always loved them and display them often, I seldom use them. What about using them for my everyday dishes? I have put several pieces through multiple cycles in the dishwasher with no obvious bad effects. I haven’t tested them in the microwave yet and would appreciate any thoughts you have on the safety of that. I’m more concerned about health effects than damage to the luster.
A: Normandie was made from 1933 to 1940 by the Federal Glass Co. of Columbus, Ohio. The pattern was made in amber, pink and crystal, as well as Sunburst, which is the name of your iridescent color. Normandie was the only iridescent Depression glass made during the 1930s and is sometimes mistakenly listed as a Carnival glass pattern called “Bouquet & Lattice.” Iridescent glass is made by spraying a molded glass piece with metallic salts and then re-firing it. Since the first microwave ovens weren’t common until the late 1960s, your dishes weren’t made to be “microwave safe.” The metallic salts in the iridescent glaze might cause “sparking” in a microwave oven, and that could damage the dishes or the microwave even if it doesn’t affect your health. Washing the dishes in the dishwasher will eventually remove the luster. If you enjoy using the dishes regularly, wash them by hand.