Reproduction or “Made in China” Fenton art glass has been appearing on online auction sites and even in antique store displays. You can spot the true art glass made by Fenton Glass artisans in America. Collectors should always look for Fenton glass marks, artist signatures and artistic style to determine if the piece is authentic.
Fenton Art Glass, known for its beautiful colors and patterns, was founded in 1905 by brothers Frank L. and John W. Fenton in Martins Ferry, Ohio. They began by painting decorations on glassware made by nearby manufacturers. The brothers opened their own factory, the Fenton Art Glass factory, in Williamstown, West Virginia, in 1907. “Iridescent ware,” now known as “Carnival” glass, was introduced that same year.
Starting in the Depression and during the early years of World War II, Fenton began making practical items like mixing bowls and perfume bottles. By the late 1940s, brothers Frank M. and Wilmer C. (Bill) Fenton took over the factory. In 1986, George W. Fenton, Frank’s son, became president. Production continued with new colors, patterns and hand-painted decorations. Traditional glassmaking stopped in 2011. The Fenton Art Glass Company property was sold in 2017.
Two of the most frequent reproductions seen are a small vase with a light blue crest and painted red roses on milk glass, and a taller vase usually either purple or green. Both have the ruffled rim, a hallmark of Fenton pieces. Neither is marked Fenton, or signed by the artist. Only very early pieces were unmarked.
How to identify authentic Fenton:
Authentic Fenton, except for the very earliest pieces, is marked.
The artist always signed the decoration, except very early pieces.
If the painting style is rough, it is a reproduction. Fenton had talented artists.
Pieces with a Fenton International logo were outsourced by Fenton to be made in China in later years. The Fenton pieces were functional housewares, not art glass collectibles, according to Butterfly Net, published by the Fenton Art Glass Collectors of America.
Fenton designed — but didn’t make — shapes for the florist company Teleflora. The Teleflora vases, while looking like Fenton, were made in China. Teleflora has a thick base.
In addition to Kovels.com, there are several clubs and organizations to help collectors avoid fakes: The Fenton Art Glass Collectors of America, FentonArtGlass.com; The National Fenton Glass Society, P.O. Box 4008, Marietta, OH 45750, NFGS.org; The Pacific Northwest Fenton Association, P.O. Box 3901, Hillsboro, Oregon, 97123, email at email@example.com; Fenton Fanatics, FentonFan.com; and Heart of America Carnival Glass Association, HOACGA.com.
Photos are courtesy of the Butterfly Net, a publication of the Fenton Art Glass Collectors of America (FAGCA).