Real or Repro? A Primer on Depression Glass

Cherry Blossom is just one of the hundreds of Depression glass patterns produced. It happens to by my favorite so it’s the easiest to write about for me! Cherry Blossom was produced by the Jeannette Glass Co., located in Jeannette, PA from 1930 – 39. It was produced in the standard pink and green, but a great set can also be put together in Delphite. Additionally a limited number of pieces can be found in Crystal, Jadeite and an Amberina shade. Pink is most prevalent however in this pattern as it was produced for the entire production run, where green was discontinued after 1935. Is green impossible to find? No but it will be just a little more challenging to complete your set.

Cherry Blossom is also one of the top 5 most collected Depression Glass patterns! The beautiful pattern is not only eye catching, but has a variety of pieces making it quite useful . It also can be found just about everywhere making it a little easier to collect than some patterns. This has also made it a target, as one of the most reproduced of all depression patterns. When I identify a reproduction (repro) in a person’s collection I always hear it can’t be as it was my grandmothers and she wouldn’t have reproductions. She had this set 50 years! Unfortunately, they were making repro’s back in the 1970’s, and some even earlier. If the collector was alive and possibly buying replacement pieces, it is quite possible many collections have reproductions in them.

Trying to figure out if it’s real or a repro can be difficult with this pattern as there is not really a common thread to look for in the pieces. I’ve also found there are different levels of repros with this pattern! Some of the older reproductions are very good and have slipped by the best of us, while the latter made repro’s coming out of China are very bad!

My first recommendation to anyone collecting a pattern is to buy a book! I recommend Barbara Mauzy’s Comprehensive Handbook of Depression Glass by Barbara & Jim Mauzy, A Schiffer Book. The hardback book has great pictures and each piece is identified so you’re not guessing what you’re looking at. There is also a pocket guide that you can carry with you when you shop. This version does not have the level of pictures but what I like is there is a place to keep the number of pieces you have so you know what you need (as long as you keep it updated). Both books list detailed information on the pieces that are reproduced. There is an R after the piece then you refer to the bottom and the author tells you what to look for. Of course there are many other great books out there, but I find this is the most comprehensive and informative.

I recently helped a dealer identify some glass and in it was a Cherry Blossom Reproduction Butter Dish.

These are a big seller since they are a high ticket item. She felt bad she had been taken but was kind enough to let me photograph the piece to use in this article! So let’s study how we can tell if the butter dish is real or a repro!

Repro on left, Real on Right
Repro on left, Real on Right

The first thing I try to tell people learn your pattern, know how it feels, how it looks study your piece. There is a feel to Depression glass that is different from all other glass. That’s something that cannot really be explained but you will learn over time. Just the way Depression Glass has a certain feel, reproduced glass has its own. Many of the cheaply made repos feel oily. When you touch the glass just has a slick feeling to it. I always say I want to wash my hands after touching it! But be careful though with this rule, as French Opalescent Glass can feel oily too and it’s not a reproduction! Cherry Blossom though should not feel oily!

Many times on repros the coloring is off. It can either be too light of a pink, too orange of a pink or too deep of a green. Some colors were never made in certain patterns so that is the biggest give a way! You will also find there are exceptions to every rule so be careful. Sick glass, glass that did not process correctly or glass that has been “reheated” can have an orange shade to it. The color of glass is derived from how hot the furnaces would get. In those days they did not have a perfect measurement for temperature and because of the nature of this glass didn’t really care either. The shades may not match because of this reason alone.

I’ve also purchased a collection of Depression Glass and asked the women what had happened to her glass? All her glass, all different patterns, had an orange tint to it. Many pieces and patterns were never reproduced so I knew it wasn’t that. She couldn’t believe I knew something happened, but she had suffered a very intense fire. The glass had been “reheated” and had developed an orange tint to it. I’m not a chemist and can’t explain how that happens (probably something to do with molecules). Just to show you there are exceptions to every rule, so you have to look further when identifying a reproduction. I can’t stress this enough.

Let’s break down how I identified this butter dish as a repro. First the pink color was just a tad lighter than usual, almost a washed out pink. The feel of the glass was heavy and especially the bottom felt rougher than Depression glass usually feels. When I say rougher I don’t mean rough edges I mean the entire feel of the glass. Again these two identification points are something that comes with time, don’t expect to run out tomorrow and say this feels like a repo as you may pass up some great glass, I did when starting.

2 Views of REPO Cherry Blossom Butter Lid Panel - Flowers look like a child’s drawing. Notice Outline of flower, Pistons look hand drawn, center is just a circle, stems look hand drawn
Two Views of REPO Cherry Blossom Butter Lid Panel – Flowers look like a child’s drawing. Notice Outline of flower, Pistons look hand drawn, center is just a circle, stems look hand drawn

Next one of the common threads in the reproduction of this pattern is the flowering portion of this pattern. On some of the repro’s the flowers look as if your 7 year old drew them! I always thought how am I going to tell this but when you see it for the first time you go “Oh that’s what they mean!” If you have any piece of Cherry Blossom with this type of flower it is a repo. Take a look at the flowers on this butter dish.

Two views of actual Cherry Blossom Butter Dish Lid Panel – Flowers look real, filled in not hand drawn.
Two views of actual Cherry Blossom Butter Dish Lid Panel – Flowers look real, filled in not hand drawn.

In this case you can really stop at the flower identification, but let’s look at a few other hints. In the butter dish lid approximately ¼ inch from the edge starts pattern impression. This impression can also be found on the footed tumblers. When you look at the lines going around the dish it creates the impression of 3 lines. This feature is something that was missed on many of the reproduction butter dishes. You will only find one line going around. Be careful though with this as sometimes the real butter dishes were not filled into the molde properly, or pressed hard enough and the three lines do not go solidly around the lid. Don’t discount it as real for that reason.

Repo Cherry Blossom Butter Dish on left only one mold line visible around base of lid - Right side Authentic
Repo Cherry Blossom Butter Dish on left only one mold line visible around base of lid – Right side Authentic

Those areas are the best ways to tell if the lid is real or a repo. Remember too, you can have a real lid with a reproduction bottom or visa versa. Let’s look at the ways to tell if the bottom is authentic.

The oily feel we mentioned previously carries through to the bottom as well as the “childish” flowers. Here however to find those flowers you need to look on the rim that goes around the side of the butter dish, where you would hold it. There is only a small section of flower but is easily spotted.

The final test for authenticity would be the pattern on the inside of the butter dish. This comes in two forms. First the pattern of leaves, branches and cherries again has an authentic look to it on the actual butter dish where on the repo the leaves look hand drawn, the cherries are more like round circles on a repo. The biggest give-a-way though is on

Top: Flower on rim of Repo Butter Dish Bottom Lower: Flower on rim of actual Butter Dish Bottom
Top: Flower on rim of Repo Butter Dish Bottom Lower: Flower on rim of actual Butter Dish Bottom

the actual butter dish base the pattern extends to where the base meets the sides of the dish, but on a repo base the pattern stops approximately ¼ inch in from this point. This leaves a small circular border of plain glass around the bottom. Actual Cherry Blossom Butter Dish base. Notice the leaves with an authentic look to them, the cherries with shading used for authenticity. The pattern of the branch, cherries as well as the tip of the leaves extend to the corner of the base.

Now you are armed with just a few ways to tell if your Cherry Blossom is real or a repo, especially your butter dish. As time goes on you will learn the feel of the glass and be able to tell maybe by that alone! If you’re not sure however it’s better to pass up a piece than to pay too much for a reproduction. Even when I know there is not a reproduction of a piece I’ve had times where it just didn’t feel right to me so I pass it up. I’ve made some big mistakes but on the other hand I need to please myself first in buying glass.

Right-Repo Cherry Blossom Butter Dish Base. See the leaves appear as they were hand drawn, as well as the cherries and the stem. The leaves do not extend to the corner of the dish, nor does the stem it stops approximately ¼” in so there is that empty space around. Left-Actual Cherry Blossom Butter Dish base. Notice the leaves with an authentic look to them, the cherries with shading used for authenticity. The pattern of the branch, cherries as well as the tip of the leaves extend to the corner of the base.
Right-Repo Cherry Blossom Butter Dish Base. See the leaves appear as they were hand drawn, as well as the cherries and the stem. The leaves do not extend to the corner of the dish, nor does the stem it stops approximately ¼” in so there is that empty space around. Left-Actual Cherry Blossom Butter Dish base. Notice the leaves with an authentic look to them, the cherries with shading used for authenticity. The pattern of the branch, cherries as well as the tip of the leaves extend to the corner of the base.

Take your new found knowledge and test it out. However, until you’re sure you have perfected it don’t tell people their dish is a repo until you do. Some will take you at your word and some will never believe you no matter what you say to convince them. I refer back to the famous quote “this came from an estate that the woman was in her 90’s, it must be real!” Now you know the truth!

Stop by TLC Antiques & Collectibles to find both Depression & Elegant Glass as well as Fenton or visit on the web at www.TLCAntiques.net.

About UAA Team

Urban Art and Antiques first published in 2007. If you are interested in becoming a contributor, let us know. Email urbanartantiques (at) gmail.com

3 comments

THANKS! I guess I’m getting around! Glad it helped. I love Cherry Blossom and I hate to see someone get a piece that is not correct in their collection! What is that saying, “Knowledge is power”! THANKS again Linda

Hello,
First I apologize if you have already received this email I am searching and sending emails to anyone who might be interested in Depression Glass.
I have an extensive collection of Depression Glass, over “300” pieces. The whole collection is for sale for $5995.00, these are wholesale prices, but I would consider any offer. If a flyer is not attached I would love to send it to you with all the pieces color coded to view. If you are interested in seeing the flyer or know someone who is would you please send me an email and I will send the flyer to you.
I appreciate your time.
Thanks,
Linda Bingham
leaveittolinda@gt.rr.com

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