Quick Tips for Collecting Cobalt Blue Glass:
- Depression-era cobalt blue glass was made from the early 1930s through the early 1940s.
- Many popular collectible pieces were made by the Hazel Atlas Glass Company.
- While the value of cobalt glass has stabilized due to Internet trading, genuine pieces are still difficult to locate in antique malls and shops.
- Cobalt blue glass has been extensively reproduced. Many of these are pieces that were never originally made by Depression-era glassmakers, while some are copies of older pieces.
Taking Notice of Cobalt Blue
When I'd shop for antiques with my mother as a kid, cobalt blue always reminded me of the cornflower crayon back in my deluxe box at home. As an adult, I remember really being drawn into a Country Living magazine spread featuring this mesmerizing color. It wasn’t long until I started grouping some of the glass pieces I'd collected over the years in brightly lit windowsills.
The most amazing thing about this particular collection is that it never grows tiresome. I've rearranged the pieces, bought a few more, and sold a couple here and there, but I've still got what amounts to a collection. And I'm still fascinated by this glass, even the Depression-era dinnerware sets.
Popular Depression Glass Patterns
Although several companies made Depression glass in this color, two of the most popular patterns with collectors are Moderntone and Royal Lace, both produced by Hazel Atlas Glass Company. Hazel Atlas went as far as to name its rendition of this captivating glass "Ritz Blue."
The simple bands decorating the outer edges of Moderntone pieces please those who prefer a clean design with a slight deco flair. This pattern offered collectors an easy to find alternative for many years, but now it's not nearly as plentiful. Many Moderntone collectors look to online shops specializing in glass these days and glass shows where dealers focusing on Depression era patterns congregate.
Cobalt blue Royal Lace lives up to its name with an ultra frilly pattern and a royal price tag too. Although a collector can probably still start and complete a set of these dishes, they should plan on spending years searching for pieces and thousands of dollars in the process. Of course, collecting a hard to find pattern makes the thrill of the chase all that much more exciting, so it’s not all bad.
Another Depression-era Hazel Atlas product is the “Ships” or "Sportsman's Series" line of glassware. These pieces are decorated with white decals featuring sailboats, skiers, Spanish dancers and even fish. These were primarily cocktail and occasional sets rather than complete dinnerware patterns, although you will run across a Moderntone plate with a sailboat decal occasionally.
The Price of Collecting Cobalt Blue
Most cobalt blue Depression glass pieces aren’t found for a dime a dozen anymore. This includes the popular Depression patterns mentioned above, as well as lesser known patterns.
Cobalt blue kitchenware, made by both Hocking Glass Co. and Hazel Atlas, has long been popular with collectors. It's hard to find cobalt blue mixing bowls, refrigerator dishes and canisters in antique shops today, and when you do they won't be reasonably priced. Collectors fare a little better shopping online, but still pay a premium for the harder to find pieces like canisters and measuring cups.
Moderately priced vintage selections in cobalt blue vary widely in variety and in price. You can still find a single Chevron milk pitcher or violin shaped bottle in this color for well under $30. Authentic Shirley Temple pieces from the Depression era can still be found for under $50 apiece. Cereal bowls bearing Shirley’s likeness are the hardest to find in excellent condition, but there are still plenty of milk pitchers available on the secondary market.
Not all cobalt blue glass choices cost such a pretty penny to own, however. You can pick up miniature vases for a few dollars each and vintage bottles that once held liquid medicines and ointments in a range of shapes for a little more. And remember, many brands of chic water and wine are being distributed in cobalt blue bottles today. Save a few of these after you've emptied the contents and you'll have an attractive trash-to-treasure collection for your own window sill in no time flat.
Cobalt Blue Reproductions
Consider provenance when contemplating reproductions. If you own a piece your grandmother handed down in the family, it's probably the real thing. But if you're shopping for cobalt blue items now, watch for repros everywhere. Reproduction cobalt glass is usually of poor quality and can have a slightly greasy feel to it.
Shirley Temple pieces have been extensively reproduced too. The white decals are usually too bright and new looking on these pieces. It should be easy to distinguish when comparing old and new side by side, but the new decals are harder to determine in photos when shopping online. Also, be aware that the original Shirley Temple pieces are a child-sized mug, cereal bowl and milk pitcher. All other cobalt blue Shirley Temple items are reproductions.
Other reproductions in cobalt blue include eye wash cups, water decanter sets, and miniature children's dishes mimicking Depression glass patterns that were never produced in small sizes originally. A number of Depression glass pieces like the Hocking’s Mayfair cookie jar and Miss America butter dish have been reproduced in cobalt blue, too. These shouldn’t confuse collectors, however, because the original patterns were never made in this color. Consult The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Depression Glass by Gene Florence or use the resources listed in the links above for more information.
Also be aware that many gift and craft shops carry newer cobalt blue glass that might be confused with older pieces once they reach the secondary market. There's nothing wrong with making up a collection of these if you find them to be attractive. Pyrex even has a line of blue ovenware out that looks super mixed with older pieces on a table. Just make sure you know what you’re buying, and realize that there are many antique dealers out there who know even less than you do about collectible glass.