Milk Glass Value Guide for Beginners With Insights from Collectors (2024)

In This Article

Antique milk glass is a popular collectible from the late 1800s through the 1980s. Beginner collectors gravitate to milk glass because it’s beautiful, relatively easy to find, and very affordable. In general, milk glass value ranges from next to nothing to a few hundred dollars for a quality piece or set.

If you want to know more about milk glass prices or determine the value of milk glass in your collection, let this price guide serve as a starting point. We will also explain how to tell the difference between milk glass and other materials like porcelain.

What Is Milk Glass?

Milk glass is an opaque white glass similar to slag glass. It gets its name from its resemblance to milk. The distinctive white color comes from added substances like tin oxide or bone ash. These materials prevent the glass from becoming transparent and give it a milky appearance.

It has been produced since 1500 B.C. in Egypt, with its popularity peaking in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Europe and America.1 After the Industrial Revolution, companies created milk glass as an inexpensive alternative to fine china. The opaque white glass is thicker and less costly to produce than porcelain.

Milk Glass Value Guide for Beginners With Insights from Collectors (1)

Milk Glass Values

Milk glass was mass-produced and is not unusually rare. As such, milk glass items are easy to find at garage sales, flea markets, and antique malls. The value of milk glass ranges from $5 to $65 for a single piece. However, the milk glass market fluctuates based on demand.

Here are some milk glass prices based on the item type:

Milk Glass TypeValue Range (USD)Notes
Vases$10 – $50Value depends on design, manufacturer, and condition.
Plates$5 – $30Decorative plates can fetch higher prices, especially if they have unique designs.
Pitchers$15 – $60Larger or intricately designed pitchers can be on the higher end of the range.
Cake Stands$20 – $80Stands with intricate patterns or from renowned manufacturers can be more valuable.
Covered Dishes$10 – $70The presence of a lid and the design can influence the value.
Cups & Saucers$5 – $40 per setSets with unique designs or from specific eras can fetch higher prices.
Bowls$8 – $50Larger serving bowls or those with unique patterns can be on the higher end.
Decorative Figurines$10 – $100Highly sought-after figures, especially animals or unique shapes, can be more valuable.
Lamps & Light Fixtures$30 – $200Condition, design, and whether it’s a complete set can greatly influence the price.
Candy Dishes$10 – $60Those with lids and unique designs can fetch higher prices.
Trinket Boxes$8 – $50Small decorative boxes, especially with lids, can vary in value based on design.

Valuable Characteristics

Some milk glass pieces might fetch dramatically more, but this value depends on several factors. “Not all Milk Glass was made in America,” explains Eugene McCamly, author of Milk Glass. “The better English pieces rate high among the finest Milk Glass produced, as a result of exquisite detail, beautiful chalk whiteness, and excellent proportions.” 2

Consider the following characteristics when assessing a piece of milk glass:

  • Age. Early milk glass examples from the late 1800s and early 1900s are considerably rarer than milk glass from the 1960s.
  • Quality. Be aware that companies are producing milk glass today. Look at the color and texture to determine if a piece is old. Old milk glass tends to be smoother than new, rough milk glass. Also, try to find the manufacturer if possible. For example, Avon produced large quantities of vintage milk glass that were not worth much money.
  • Condition. Avoid pieces with apparent chips or cracks. Staining and worn detailing in decorative enamel or paint can lower the value.
  • Design. Some Victorian designs or milk glass examples with decorative enamel can sell for more money. When the farmhouse style regained popularity, some simpler, streamlined pieces were worth more money. Designs vary depending on the era.

How to Identify Milk Glass

Milk glass was initially used for utilitarian purposes like lighting fixtures, door knobs, tableware, and vases. During the Victorian era, it was often embellished with intricate and colorful designs, like hand-painted enamel floral patterns. The opaque glass was also incorporated into more elaborate centerpieces, mantel displays, and other decorative objects.

Some milk glass qualities include:

  • Milk glass is primarily white. However, milk glass comes in other colors too. Common colors include soft jade, pale pink, powder blue, and black.
  • Vintage milk glass is opaque. The transparency of the glass is the main difference between milk glass and other collectible glassware (like depression glass or carnival glass).
  • Companies produced milk glass from the late 1800s through the 1980s. However, milk glass wasn’t popular this entire time. The collectible went out of favor in the 1930s for decades. Be aware that there are companies producing reproductions today.
  • White dinnerware and dishes are usually not considered milk glass. Milk glass items tend to be one-off items like vases, salt shakers, or candy dishes. Large sets of milk glass dishes were uncommon. Manufacturers made most dish sets out of porcelain or ceramic instead of glass (with the exception of Corningware, Pyrex, and Correlle).

Examples

Milk Glass Value Guide for Beginners With Insights from Collectors (2)

Victorian Milk Glass Vanity Set with Dresser Box and Tray, c. 1910

$45, etsy.com

Milk Glass Value Guide for Beginners With Insights from Collectors (3)

Victorian Hand Painted Milk Glass Sugar Shaker, c. 1894-1918

$55, etsy.com

Milk Glass Value Guide for Beginners With Insights from Collectors (4)

Vintage White Milk Glass Bud Vases, c. 1960

$44, etsy.com

Milk Glass Value Guide for Beginners With Insights from Collectors (5)

Vintage Milk Glass Pedestal Planter Pots, c. 1970

$28, etsy.com

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Antique Milk Glass 9″ Light Shade, c. 1925

$198, etsy.com

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Victorian Hand Painted Milk Glass Trinket Box, c. 1900

$30, etsy.com

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Vintage Milk Glass Hen on Nest, c. 1960

$38, etsy.com

Popular Manufacturers

There are several common milk glass manufacturers. “WestmorelandGlass Company of Grapeville, PA, was, from 1890-1985, one of the most prolific producers of fine quality milk glass in the United States,” says Betty Newbound, author of Collectors Encyclopedia Of Milk Glass. “When they closed in 1985, there were several sales and auctions held, and the wonderful old molds owned byWestmorelandwere scattered to the winds.” [1]

In addition, the following companies also produced milk glass on a large scale with varying qualities and values.

Porcelain vs. Milk Glass

Milk Glass Value Guide for Beginners With Insights from Collectors (9)
Milk Glass Value Guide for Beginners With Insights from Collectors (10)

While both porcelain and milk glass can have a white, smooth, and glossy appearance, there are several ways to differentiate between the two:

  • Porcelain is more translucent than milk glass, which is usually opaque.
  • Porcelain has a finer and smoother texture than milk glass, which may have a slightly grainy feel.
  • Porcelain is more fragile and delicate than milk glass, which is relatively sturdy and can withstand more wear and tear.
  • The sound produced when tapping a piece of porcelain is higher and sharper than when tapping milk glass, which produces a duller sound.
Article Sources
  1. Newbound, Betty, and Bill Newbound.Collectors Encyclopedia Of Milk Glass Identification/Values. 1st edition, Collector Books, 1994. ↩︎
  2. Belknap, E. McCamly (Eugene McCamly).Milk Glass;New York, Crown Publishers, 1949. ↩︎
Milk Glass Value Guide for Beginners With Insights from Collectors (2024)

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