Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Identifying Vintage Milk Glass

First produced in Venice, Italy in the 16th century, milk glass is made white by adding an opacifier - either tin dioxide or bone ash. In the United States, one of the premier manufacturers was the Westmoreland Specialty Company, founded in Pennsylvania by two brothers in 1889. Their focus was pressed glass and, in 1921, the name changed to Westmoreland Glass Company.

Milk glass of many colors was mass produced beginning in the 1940s. Pieces from the Victorian era are lighter and more finely detailed. The best way to tell the difference between an earlier piece and a mid 20th century piece is to hold the piece up to the sun. An older piece will glow pinkish at the edges and a new piece will show blue. I've tried to show you the pink glow in the photo below, but seeing it for yourself in real life is most illustrative. Once you compare two pieces, you'll be able to spot the difference easily.

The four legged covered jar below was made as a mustard pot, circa 1900. It has finely scrolled feet, a fluted and scalloped base and a lid with a crown finial. It still has remnants of its original paper label on the underside. The Westmoreland Specialty Company made lots and lots of different patterned mustard pots before closing their doors in 1984 and they are widely collected. The cherub plate with the openwork border is also circa 1900, but is missing its paper label.

Here's a shot of the label:

And a closeup of the crown finial:

One of my favorite milk glass pieces is a chipped up old covered box that long ago lost its lid. It's nothing to look at but I use it to hold makeup in my medicine cabinet and appreciate it every day.

Be sure to stop by Faded Charm for more white!


  1. Absolutely stunning! What a wonderful posting. I love milk glass and have a nice collection... most inherited but some that I have purchased. Thanks for all the great information.
    Ladybug Creek

  2. LOVELY pieces, Amanda! My sister used to have a HUGE milkglass collection. She had to down-size it on her last move, but still collects. Very interesting... I learned a lot! :o) Happy Day ((HUGS))

  3. You have some beautiful pieces. Thanks for sharing the history of milk glass.

  4. Beautiful whites today. I remember my mother having a hen that sat on a bowl (nest) and I think that was milk glass.Happy WW!

  5. Hi Amanda,
    Your milk glass pieces are beautiful! Thanks for sharing the history with us.
    Happy WW!
    ~ Jo :)

  6. Such lovely pieces, Amanda! And how kind of you to give us a small lesson about milk glass. I have admired it in the past, and am keen now to find some and put your lesson to use. Beautiful photos, too..great post, altogether.


  7. What great history. Thanks for sharing. I really like the crown finial on the mustard pot.

  8. Hi Amanda..
    beautiful post!!
    thanks for stopping by..
    yes.. am slowly making the transition to Colorado..
    have always loved the THOUGHT of Colorado..
    It is beautiful,vibrant, a photography paradise..
    I do love living here..especially like now as I sit here with windows open enjoying my morning coffee.
    but come the first snowfall..sure.. i'm like a kid again in amazement and awe of the beauty!!
    but then reality smacks me coldly in the face as I bundle up to start shoveling..
    by January when the days seem so long and gray and COLD it is then my beach nature demands release.. and off I go for two weeks into my other world of sand, sun and salt air.. reveling in the joy of laughing with my sis and family in Florida!!
    come again.. I enjoyed our visit!!
    warm sandy hugs..

  9. Hi Amanda ~ love the cherub on the plate and the crown topped cover!! I have lots of my Mom and Nana's milk glass and cherish each piece!!

  10. Oh my...I'm in love with your cherub plate!!! That is just darling and so unique! The little picture in the background caught my eye, it's just lovely!

  11. Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier today. I really enjoyed your post/tutorial about iding milk glass. Learned some new info. with regards to the pink/blue tinges.
    My Dad's wife collects Westmorland style glass and has quite a vast collection. I have maybe 8 or so pieces of milk glass, and am now tempted to pull it out of the cupboard some week for the White Wednesday blog party. Thanks for the inspiration.

  12. Hey this was really fun info! I already like milk glass better because it began in Venezia! Happy WW! Jacqueline

  13. Hi Patty! What an great post! Thank you for sharing all that information about milk glass with us. I really learned a lot. It is such a beautiful treasure to display, isn't it? :) And nothing is better than a treasure in milky white! lol!

    Thanks for leaving a sweet comment on my blog, too! I love meeting new friends!

    xoxo laurie@heavens-walk

  14. Love your whites...so pretty! Thanks for the history lesson on the milk glass, I really learned a lot from it. Thanks also for visiting by my blog and gracing it with your kind comments. Do come again!!! :o)

  15. Hi Amanda,
    That mustard pot is beautiful, love it so much! The label makes it even more precious too.

  16. Thanks for stopping by my blog and the sweet comment. This is a great post with lots of helpful information. I didn't know about the color variation dating pieces.

    Have a good week, Annette

  17. Great info; a beautiful AND educational White Wednesday...thanks!


  18. Thanks for the lesson. I almost picked up a really nice MG bowl a few days ago. My favorite MG collectibles are the small cosmetic jars. At least count I have 23.

  19. Gorgeous white collection! I like that plate..

  20. Hi Amanda, What beautiful milk glass, I love both the plate and the mustard pot. I didn't know that about milk glass, great research, now I know what to look for. Great post.
    The Swedish Room