- Fostoria began producing glass in 1887 in Fostoria, Ohio, and then moved to Moundsville, West Virginia in 1891.
- In general, colored stemware and dinnerware pieces made by Fostoria are valued higher than clear counterparts in the same pattern.
- Fostoria is categorized by collectors as "elegant" glassware, although many pieces were produced during the Depression era. This term came about due to the high quality of this type of glass when compared with other Depression-era dinnerware.
- Newly made pieces of American, made under the American Whitehall name, have caused confusion with novice collectors. Be sure to read up on this Fostoria pattern before making a costly purchase.
Fostoria's original factory borrowed its name from the town in which it was built, Fostoria, Ohio, in 1887. The business packed up and moved to Moundsville, West Virginia in 1891 where Fostoria glassware of the highest quality was manufactured through 1983 when Lancaster Colony bought the company. Three years later, the factory closed for good.
Looking back to 1887 through 1909, as seen on an old advertising paperweight, Fostoria touted manufacturing "tableware, colognes, stationers' glassware and candelabra." They also made inkwells, sponge cups, numerous vases, fingerbowls and even fruit jars with marked tops along with other varied items.
Many of the early tableware pieces were needle etched or wheel cut, both popular forms of decoration for early 20th century glass. Fostoria also offered some lines decorated with ruby red or gold bands, another fashionable style of the day.
Learning About Fostoria
One of the best resources to locate when learning about early Fostoria is an out of print book titled Fostoria: Its First Fifty Years by Hazel Marie Weatherman. This noted Depression glass author wrote some of the first serious books on collecting Depression and elegant glass, and she included many invaluable early catalog reprints in this helpful guide.
Of course, Weatherman made sure readers were provided information on the popular patterns along with company history and catalog reprints. It may be a little difficult to find a copy of this book, but they come up for sale through used booksellers and online auctions occasionally usually selling for around $25-50.
Fostoria’s American Pattern
Of all the highly successful patterns included in Weatherman's book, American is Fostoria's all-time bestseller. Introduced in 1915, American was produced for many, many years.
Lancaster Colony continued to produce this glass as the American Whitehall pattern after it bought out Fostoria. For quite some time this pattern stood as the longest running and most successful pattern in U.S. glass making history.
While this pattern is no longer being marketed, some of those more recently made pieces confuse novice collectors and should not be valued as highly as older American wares. It’s wise to take care buying "Fostoria" pieces that seem too new and read up on this pattern further before making a costly purchase.
Another point of confusion is that Indiana Glass Company made the original Whitehall pattern, which looks very much like American, in the 1960s. Many of these pieces are confused with American, but the quality of the glass is not as high as that produced by Fostoria and the shapes of the pieces and angles of the cube-like pattern are different upon close examination.
Other Fostoria Patterns and Colors
Collectors preferring dinnerware and stems on the delicate side often seek well-known patterns such as Versailles, June, Navarre, Chintz, Vernon, and Romance, among others. These pretty stems were popular as bridal registry crystal patterns for many years.
While Fostoria made many of their gorgeous wares in clear versions, including the durable Colony pattern, lovely shades of pink, green and yellow, along with others, were also used to tint many etched patterns. Most of these shades mix well with fine china patterns making them very popular with collectors. It’s also good to note that, in general, colored glass made by Fostoria will sell for a higher price than clear pieces in the same pattern.
How and What to Collect
Some Fostoria enthusiasts prefer to collect entire sets of dinnerware in one color including serving pieces and stemware. For larger patterns like American, this can amount to a massive grouping of glassware worth thousands of dollars when complete.
Other collectors focus on specific pieces like stemware, vases or candlesticks in a variety of colors for a unique, diverse collection. There are even specific books targeted to these focused collections recognizing how important this niche collecting is today.
Clubs for Fostoria Enthusiasts
Many dedicated collectors around the country belong to Fostoria collecting clubs such as Fostoria Glass Collectors Inc. or the Fostoria Glass Society of America. These organizations offer newsletters, educational events, shows and other resources through their websites providing a great service to budding glassware hunters and seasoned collectors alike.
Other collectors belong to local or regional glass collecting clubs, which offer the same type of camaraderie and learning experiences with an opportunity to socialize with other glass lovers nearby. A good list of these clubs can be found on the National Depression Glass Association’s website.