With its warm rose color and vintage beauty, pink depression glass is a hot item among collectors and antiques enthusiasts. You can easily find this glass in most antique stores, but determining its value can be a bit more confusing. Values can range from a few dollars to over $100. There are several steps you can take to find out how much your piece is worth.
Identify the Pattern
In the case of depression glass, value is highly dependent on the pattern. This means that before you can establish how much your item is worth, you need to know as much as you can about the piece you have. Examine it carefully for any special markings. There may not be a back stamp to help, but each pattern will be unique.
Look for some of these distinguishing features:
- Opalescent trim
- Etched details
- Opaque glass
- Unusual shapes
- Hobnail or geometric patterns
You can use the handy pictorial lookup at Kejaba Treasures to match your piece to one of the dozens of known patterns of pink depression glass. If you can't find your piece on this list, you may have what is known as "generic glass." These are unpatterned pieces, often made in smaller quantities.
Identify the Piece
The type of piece you have will also affect its value. You need to know what you have before you can determine how much it's worth.
Some pieces, such as candy dishes, are common. This can detract from their value, but not always. Most patterns came in a variety of different pieces, including the following:
- Plates of various sizes
- Glasses and goblets
- Teacups and saucers
- Cream and sugar sets
- Pitchers of various sizes
- Trays and cake plates
Not all pieces are easy to identify, especially since they may serve archaic uses that are unfamiliar to today's collectors. If you are unsure of the purpose of your piece, you can look it up in a book. Check out one of these titles from your local library:
- Warman's Depression Glass Field Guide by Ellen Schroy
- Mauzy's Depression Glass: A Photographic Reference and Price Guide by Barbara Mauzy and Jim Mauzy
- Collector's Encyclopedia of Depression Glass by Gene Florence and Cathy Florence
Keep in mind that books aren't necessarily the best way to find your piece's value, since they can quickly become outdated when market conditions shift. However, they are an excellent resource for identifying patterns and pieces.
Assess the Condition
Condition is a major factor that affects value, so you'll need to take a hard look at your item. If your piece is an heirloom or you're hoping for a certain value, it can help to have an objective friend check for flaws.
Some condition issues are actually original to the depression glass, which was made quickly and sold for very little when it was first manufactured. These include raised rough spots, bubbles beneath the glass' surface, and tiny lines called "straw marks." These are shallow mold lines or flaws, but they are not cracks. These flaws don't significantly affect the value of your piece, since they are original.
Minor Condition Issues
Other, very minor condition issues may not hurt your piece's value. These include the following:
- Flea bites - These tiny chips can occur anywhere on a piece, but the most common spot is around the rim, base, raised decorations or handles. They should not be something you notice easily.
- Minor scratches - After being in use for decades, most depression glass has minor scratches. Collectors often consider this part of the piece's patina.
Major Condition Issues
Major condition issues exist as well. These condition issues may cause your piece to have a decreased value:
- Cracks - A cracked piece is worth much less, no matter how valuable the pattern or item.
- Chips - Chips are bigger than flea bites, and they do negatively affect the appearance and value of your piece.
- Unintended etching - Acids in some foods, as well as dishwashers and harsh detergents, can permanently etch a piece of glass. This unintended etching will reduce value.
Research the Market
It's important to keep in mind that depression glass pricing responds to supply and demand. A piece may be rare but unpopular, which would result in a low value. On the other hand, it may be a common pattern or piece, but still a hot item with collectors; this can drive the value up. You'll need to research the market to get the most current value for your item.
Once you know which pattern and piece you have and determine a good sense of its condition, you can perform a search on eBay to see what similar pieces fetch at auction. This is an excellent way to find the value of common pieces, but it can be more challenging for rare items. Values from eBay also tend to be a bit on the low side, but they will give you a very good sense for most items.
Antique stores often stock pink depression glass, and they can be a great pricing resource. These values will be retail prices, which are usually a little higher than what you could get if you sold a piece. You can call or visit local shops to see if they have similar pieces in stock. Store owners may also be able to tell you about the pricing of previously sold items.
Replacements, Ltd. specializes in antique and difficult-to-find glassware, china, and other items, and they have a huge selection of pink depression glass. Their prices tend to be a bit higher than you'll find in stores and on eBay, but they can still give you a good sense of what your piece is worth. This is an especially good way to find the value of rare pieces. Simply search by the name of your pattern.
A Rewarding Pursuit
Determining the value of pink depression glass takes a little research, but it can be rewarding. You may find that you have a very rare piece in a desirable pattern, giving you a gold mine in the shape of soft pink glassware. No matter what your piece is worth, it's wonderful to learn a bit more about its history and value.