Identifying & Determining Value of Antique Milk Glass | LoveToKnow (2024)

It's one of the prettiest types of antique glass, and milk glass can be worth a lot.

ByKate Miller-Wilson

Kate Miller-Wilson

Kate is an experienced writer who has written hundreds of articles for publication.

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Updated October 6, 2023

Identifying & Determining Value of Antique Milk Glass | LoveToKnow (1)

With its luminous beauty and classic charm, milk glass is a great choice for antiques collectors. Identifying antique milk glass comes down to knowing a bit more about this beautiful type of glassware. Learn what to look for and how to determine the value of milk glass pieces you may find in antique shops and online.

Most Valuable Antique Milk Glass

Most of the milk glass that collectors encounter today was made during the Victorian era or later. Country Living reports that opaque white glass came into fashion during the Victorian years because it offered an economical alternative to fine china and porcelain. What was once the poor man's china is now a coveted item with collectors, with values sometimes climbing into the hundreds of dollars.

Milk Glass Piece Approximate Sales Value
LE Smith "tube sock" vase $1,100
Fire King pink plate $800
Fenton rose vases $600
Fenton pedestal cake plate with black rim $600
French pale blue goblets $500
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  • Antique Vase Values: What to Know

While most milk glass is affordable and sells for under $30 apiece, there are a few rare milk glass pieces that sell for especially high prices. The following notable pieces sold recently on eBay:

  • When it comes to milk glass vases, value often depends on rarity. A mid-century modern 17-inch milk glass vase by LE Smith in the super rare"tube sock" pattern sold for $1,100. It was only made for about six months, making it one of the rarest milk glass patterns.
  • Colors other than white can also be valuable. A nine-inch pink milk glass plate by popular company Fire King sold for about $800. It was in excellent condition, with clear marks and no damage.
  • A matched pair of Fenton vases in a previously unknown hand-painted rose pattern sold for just over $600. They were in perfect shape and were super rare.
  • Another treasure from Fenton, a pedestal cake plate in white milk glass with a black rim sold for about $600. It was in great shape and would work in any modern home.
  • While some super valuable milk glass is American, French pieces can also be worth a lot. A set of six French goblets in a pale blue milk glass sold for just under $500.

Quick Tip

Is your milk glass worth anything? The value of individual pieces depends on a lot of factors, but it's always worth something. This is a beautiful, neutral type of antique glass that works super well in modern homes and has lots of value.

How to Identify Milk Glass

Milk glass was made from the 19th century and into the mid-20th century. There are a lot of pieces out there, and no matter when it was made, all milk glass has certain characteristics that you can use to identify antique glassware.

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Milk Glass Is Opaque

Like milk, this type of glass is mostly opaque. If you hold a piece of pink Depression glass up to the light, you can see right through it. In contrast, the opaque milk glass blocks most of the light.

Milk Glass Is White (and Other Colors, Too)

Most milk glass is a classic, pure white. It's a beautiful neutral that goes with any type of dishes or decor. However, many people don't realize that it came in other colors, too. Some of the other shades include a lovely pale green, robin's egg blue, soft pink, and even black. As long as these shades are opaque and made during the milk glass era, they are still considered milk glass.

Milk Glass Only Came in Certain Styles

If you see a full set of white glass dinner plates, you can rest assured this isn't milk glass. That's because dinnerware and similar full sets of dishes were never available in milk glass. Instead, manufacturers mostly used this type of glass to create decorative items,like vases and dresser trinkets, or serving pieces like pitchers, cake stands, and covered dishes. You'll also see sets, like punch bowls, teacups, or dessert dishes.

Identifying & Determining Value of Antique Milk Glass | LoveToKnow (3)

Architectural Antiques Feature Milk Glass, Too

Milk glass isn't limited to dishes and knickknacks. If you own an old home or enjoy shopping for architectural antiques, you'll also see milk glass in this setting. This Old House reports that milk glass doorknobs and cabinet knobs weren't as popular as their clear glass counterparts, but they still exist in homes built before 1950.

You may also encounter things like vintage milk glass lamps. These lamps and light fixtures have milk glass shades, often with a simple hobnail pattern. They offer a lovely upgrade to a home of any era. We like using them for a vintage touch in a bedroom.

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Factors Affecting the Value of Antique Milk Glass

If you are considering buying some antique milk glass or you have a few pieces already, it's helpful to know how to determine the value. Most milk glass you find in antique stores, garage sales, and online will sell in the range of $10 to $30 per piece. However, some items sell for far more, and there are several factors that can affect the price of milk glass.

Need to Know

When you're comparing values, always check the sold price of similar items. Someone can ask any price for antique glass, but what matters is what the buyer is really willing to pay.

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Age of the Piece

The popularity of milk glass decreased during the 1930s as colored Depression glass and carnival glass came into fashion, but it had a resurgence in the 1950s and 1960s. In general, older milk glass is more valuable than vintage pieces from the 1960s.

According to Collectors Weekly, some of the most valuable milk glass is from France and was made in the 19th century. American-made milk glass from the late 1800s is also among the most valuable. Determining whether your milk glass piece is old can be challenging, but there are a few clues.

  • Look for the "ring of fire." If you hold old milk glass up to the light, you should see a rainbow of subtle colors. Before the 1960s, milk glass manufacturers used iridized salts to produce the glass, creating an iridescent effect.
  • Examine the texture. Rough or bumpy milk glass tends to be newer, while smooth milk glass is probably old.
  • Watch for markings. Many older pieces feature markings to indicate the manufacturer or pattern number. Some even include a patent date.

Manufacturer

A variety of manufacturers produced milk glass over the years. Many of these manufacturers used marks to identify their pieces. To see if a piece is marked, turn it over and examine the bottom. The mark will appear near the center in most cases. Examine it carefullyand then compare it to the library of marks at 20th Century Glass.

Some of the oldest and most valuable manufacturers include the following companies.

  • Atterbury & Company - Famous for making figural milk glass pieces like the "Atterbury duck," this company stamped most pieces with the patent date.
  • Bryce Brothers - Many Bryce Bothers pieces are unmarked, but they are famous for their children's figural mugs with animals and people on them.
  • Gillinder & Sons - Gillinder & Sons did not mark most of its milk glass, but you can recognize some of its distinctive designs, including busts of famous presidents and figural sculptures.
  • New England Glass Company - This company, which made a variety of designs, often used initials in an oval with an eagle near it.

Condition

Condition has a huge impact on the value of antique and vintage milk glass. Pieces with chips, cracks, or crazing will be worth less than those in excellent condition. Stains can also have a negative effect. Look for chips along the rims and edges of pieces, since this is where they get the most use.

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A Wonderful Hobby

Even if you don't have one of these valuable pieces, collecting milk glass is a wonderful hobby. From vintage milk glass baskets to simple vases, there's so much variation in the styles produced that there's a piece to match anyone's decor and personal preferences. We're all for collecting as many lovely pieces as you can find.

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Identifying & Determining Value of Antique Milk Glass | LoveToKnow (2024)

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