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Helaine Fendelman & Joe Rosson: Markings identify carnival glass

Pieces of 'Grape and Cable' pattern Northwood carnival glass are valued at between $60 and $90.
Pieces of 'Grape and Cable' pattern Northwood carnival glass are valued at between $60 and $90.
Scripps Howard News Service

Dear Helaine and Joe: Enclosed is a picture of a set that belonged to my mother, and before her, to my grandmother. Inside some of the pieces is the symbol "Z1." I was wondering if you could tell me the name of this style and how old the set is? Thank you. — H.C., Chandler, Ind.

Dear H.C.: There is an old aphorism about how "it is all about how you look at it," and this thought could not be truer than it is for the grouping of glass items pictured above. This is because the pieces are not marked with a "Z1" but with an underlined "N," and this alphabetical misinterpretation makes all the difference in the world.

This is the well-known mark of the Northwood Glass Co., which was founded by Englishman Harry Northwood in 1896. Northwood was the son of the renowned English glassmaker, John Northwood, but young Harry came to the United States in 1880 and began learning his father's craft at the Hobbs, Brockunier Co. factory in Wheeling, W.Va.

He worked there for five years before moving on to the La Belle Glass Co. where he became manager in 1887 only to have the plant burn down just a few months later. After a short stint at the Buckeye Glass Co., Northwood opened his own facility in Indiana, Penn., where he made a variety of high-quality pressed glasswares.

In 1899 he joined the National Glass Co. but was unhappy and broke away in 1901, and in 1902 bought the Hobbs, Brockunier Co., where he had begun his professional odyssey in the glass-making glassmaking industry. It was here that Northwood began making carnival glass in 1908, and this is the type of glassware that belongs to H.C.

The pattern is called "Grape and Cable" and is one of the most quickly recognized of the many Northwood carnival glass patterns. It must have been very popular when it was introduced in 1910, and a great deal of it was made before about 1920. It is said to be the most available of all the Northwood carnival glass patterns.

It was manufactured in almost 40 different shapes and in a variety of colors, including marigold, amethyst, green, cobalt blue, sapphire blue, white, ice green, smoke, teal and peach opalescent. Some of the rare shapes included a spittoon, the large punch bowl with base and the covered compote in marigold.

This is an interesting point because the color of the base glass in carnival glass can be very important. In the case of the marigold compote, it is valued at a bit more than $2,000, but the same piece in amethyst is worth about 80 percent less and has a value in the neighborhood of $375.

The pieces belonging to H.C. appear to be amethyst, and the picture is a little deceiving as to exactly what the shapes might be. There is no doubt that there are five tumblers, but it looks like there may be three of one size and two of another. If this is the case, the regular-size tumblers should be valued at $60 to $70 each, while the jumbo tumblers are a bit more at $75 to $85 each.

The open piece behind the tumblers in the photograph appears to be a spooner (a container for holding spoons), and if this is the case, its value is in the $75 to $85 range. The last piece looks to be a covered sugar bowl, and it should be valued at $80 to $90.


Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of the "Price It Yourself" (HarperResource, $19.95). Questions can by mailed to them at P.O. Box 12208, Knoxville, TN 37912-0208.