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Keep an Eye Out for these Types of Collectible Colored Glass

Updated: Jun 26

If you’ve inherited an heirloom collection of vintage glass jars or are an avid collector of stained antique glass art pieces, you’re no stranger to the beauty of colored glass. But when it comes time to buy new additions to your collection, do you know what to look for? Learn more about why people adore vintage glass and discover the most popular collectibles on the market.  

Everyone Loves Colorful Vintage Glass

Colorful antique glass dishes and vases

Whether they grew up in awe of their grandmother’s favorite Tiffany lamp or just love the rainbow look of colorful bottles lined up on the windowsill, there are countless reasons people love collecting vintage glass. Some people are in it for the money, as certain antique glass pieces can be quite valuable. A single, rare, colorful antique glass design can fetch anywhere from a couple of dollars to a couple thousand—that’s half the fun! 

Others enjoy curating their collection purely because of the beautiful aesthetics. Colorful glass collectibles can come in a wide range of hues, from crystal clear to Mason jar blue to deep reds and more, so there’s a perfect shade for every room of the house. 

How Can You Tell if Glass is Antique?

With modern companies banking on everyone’s love for retro designs, there are one too many fakes on the market. When shopping in a Chicago antique mall or flea market, some authenticating signs to search for are patina stains, bubbled imperfections, and pontil scars left on the bottom. Spotting these design flaws is a great way to determine if your glass is vintage or antique. 

Popular Vintage and Antique Glass Companies:

  • Fenton Glass: known for its rich hues, wide assortment of colors, and sculpted motifs, Fenton has been at the forefront of beautiful glassware for over a hundred years.

  • Blenko Glass Company: with imaginative designs, bright colors, and hand-blown glass skills, Blenko pieces of all shapes and sizes are sought after by traditional art lovers.

  • Tiffany: from lamps to vases, Tiffany is famous for its patented Favrile glass that gives off an iridescent shine and opacity (similar to stained glass).

3 Popular Antique Glass Items to Search For

Vintage swung vase in green

If you’re looking to start a collection, keep your eye out for these beloved (and often valuable) colorful glass collectibles: 

1. Swung Vases

The funky and asymmetrical style of the swung vase was most popular from the ‘60s to the ‘80s—but they never really go out of style. With vibrant colors and a free-form shape, a swung vase is the perfect example of mid-century modern décor. If you think you’ve found one in your local antique store, look for a seam at the bottom for a sign that it’s true vintage glass. 

As for the name, “Swung” refers to the steep process where the maker picks up the vase by the neck and swings it around to stretch and twist it into unique shapes. Thanks to this process, no two pieces are alike, appealing to collectors who love owning a one-of-a-kind vintage glass design. 

2. Milk Glass

Antique hobnail milk glass

Milk glass was first invented in the 1600s as a cheaper alternative to porcelain. The original design features a milk-white color (hence the name) and an opaque look, though it can be made with other colors, such as blue or pink. To discover if the piece of milk glass you have your eye on is as old as you hope, hold the piece to the sun to check for the “ring of fire,” a halo of sparkly, rainbow colors. If it’s not there, then skip the modern look-alike and continue your search. 

Milk glass is a popular vintage glass collectible because of its endless styling abilities. Every room can be decorated with milk glass, from a dainty pitcher on the bar cart to cake stands and dinner plates on a dining table. Milk glass collectibles can fit right into any aesthetic, whether you prefer an over-the-top maximalist aesthetic or lean into rustic cottagecore style.

Popular Milk Glass Designs

As you search through the vintage collectibles Melbourne has to offer, look for milk glass in these forms:

  • Goblets

  • Vases

  • Teacups

  • Holiday figurines

  • Spice jars

3. Uranium Glass

Shelf of uranium glass in antique mall

Uranium glass designs were most popular in the 1880s when they were first brought to the mass market, but when uranium became scarce in the ‘50s, production halted for years. It’s best known for its distinctive fluorescent glow and yellow-green coloring, and although it may have a radioactive look, the pieces are completely safe to handle and decorate with. With such unique properties, it’s one of the most popular antique glass designs for collectors around the globe. 

Good news! Uranium glass pieces can be found just about anywhere at various price points. The more rare or decorative this vintage glass style is, the more it’s worth to a collector. But, since many people don’t know how to spot them, you can often find pieces in thrift stores and yard sales for a couple of bucks. 

How to Identify Uranium Glass

If you come across an antique glass piece that seems like it could be uranium glass but aren’t quite sure, there’s one easy trick to tell for sure. Simply shine a UV light on it and see if it glows bright green. Even if there’s only the slightest percentage of uranium, it will glow! 

Find Antique Glass at an Antique Mall

Green vintage glass mixing bowl

The next time you want to search for amazing vintage glass décor, take action and visit an antique mall. It’s not your typical shopping experience—with hundreds of antique vendors in one spot, you can explore each booth and shelf for unique vintage glass designs to add to your collection. In our wide aisles, you could discover priceless uranium glass designs, stumble upon a Fenton masterpiece, or find the Blenko vase of your dreams. 

Pro tip: if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask one of our lovely staff if they’ve seen any antique glass in the mall. They’re trained and ready to help you find anything you need, so don’t be afraid to check!

Whether searching for vintage vases to complete your dining table or seeking the missing piece to your uranium glass collection, collecting colorful antique glass is fun for all! Stop by one of our locations to search for three of the most popular glass collectibles and start building your collection today.

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