Sad Glass?

  Sad Glass?
The roaring twenties ended abruptly when the stock market crashed in October 1929. The 1920’s saw a
surge in the economy, as manufactures were mass producing inventory, and consumers rushed in to buy
the latest and greatest products. Attending jazz clubs, glamorous parties and lavish balls were the best
place to get dressed up and flaunt their wealth and prosperity. Up until the summer of 1929, everyone
from the extremely wealthy to a simply cook invested money into savings and stocks. With the crash of
the stock market in October of 1929, millions of investors went bankrupt causing many businesses to
close or greatly reduce their productivity. This marked the beginning of the Great Depression that would
last 10 years. Glass makers found themselves in a quandary as crystal was now an unaffordable luxury.
With 25% of the workforce unemployed, any money that a family had was now spent on food and
shelter. Glass manufactures severely slowed production of crystal and began mass producing a lower
quality product. Highly decorative molds were made, and molten glass was poured into them using
machines. The finished product was very pretty and decorative but lacked the finishing details that are
found on fine China, porcelain, and crystal pieces. Generally, the glass pieces were not polished, had
rough edges, and bubbles in the glass. There were more than 20 glass manufactures in the 1930’s using
machines to mass produce clear pastel colored glass products that featured more than one hundred
delicate designs. Some of the most popular designs were daisy, open rose, royal lace, cameo, and
American sweetheart, with pink and green being the favorite colors. Since most of the country was still
living in poverty, the glassware was either free, or was very cheap to buy. Many food manufacturers,
movies theaters and businesses, began working with glass manufacturers like Hocking, Federal, and
Atlas, as they both needed to increase revenue, and realized that a consumer was more likely to buy a
product if they got something for free. Some examples of the free giveaways were the Quaker Oats
company including a free bowl with the purchase of a bag of oatmeal, a free cake plate with the
purchase of cake mix, and toothbrush holders with the purchase of toothbrushes. Often, the more
expensive the purchase - the larger the gift, like a set of dishes with the purchase of a dinette. The
brightly colored and highly decorative glass pieces were a welcomed sight during the dark times of the
Great Depression. As the economy began correcting itself, many people were flourishing both materially
and financially. People wanted to put the hard times behind them and not think or talk about the
catastrophe again. The sad, cheap, depressing glass was a harsh reminder of the bleak decade of
hunger, poverty, and despair. As soon as financially possible, the depression glass was packed up, put
out of sight, and replaced with fine China once again. Most often, the depression glass remained packed
away, untouched, and out of sight for decades. Only to be discovered when the owner of the ornate
glassware passed away, and the home was being cleaned out. Estate sales and antique stores are the
best places to find Depression glass that is nearly one hundred years old! As you see the beautiful pastel
ornate glassware, remember the dark times our nation once faced, and take a moment of reflection and
Thanksgiving for what we have today.







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