How to Sell: Carnival Glass

Over the past week or so I’ve been telling you a lot about carnival glass. First, I showed you this beauty that we recently sold. Then I went on to explain exactly what carnival glass was and how it got its start. Now I’m here to tell you the best ways to buy and sell it!

Oddly enough, we’ve really only had marigold colored carnival glass around here. That’s probably the most common/least valuable color, but that doesn’t mean that it still won’t bring you some profit if you choose to invest.

So, what things should you look for?

1. Condition. This is extremely important – stay away from cracks and chips as much as possible. If there is a little damage you should be okay, but the better the piece, the more valuable it is.

2. Function. Would you rather get your hands on a toothpick holder or an entire water set? While pretty much any carnival glass piece is going to be good to sell, the more unique it is, the better chances you’ll have of selling it. You might have to invest for some of the larger pieces, but they’ll bring you the best return.

3. Color. There are a whole slew of colors out there. Some of them are definitely rarer than others. Manufacturers tended to “specialize” in certain colors. Here’s a great link to the different colors and who made what.

4. Maker. Imperial, Fenton, Northwood, Dugan. The list goes on. Some people collect companies’ works only and others don’t mind at all who made it, as long as they like the piece. We’ve seen a lot of Imperial and Northwood and these always do well.

(NOTE: This list is not in order. While condition might just be the top thing to consider, the function, color, and maker all go hand-in-hand. A combination of all four factors is what will make your piece of carnival glass more valuable.)

Now that I know that, what do I need to talk about when I sell my item?

Good question, and a lot of this will correlate with the previous section. I usually have the following information in my listing:

1. What the piece is – a water set, a compote, a vase?

2. Who made it – Imperial, Northwood, etc.

3. What the pattern is – Dewberry, Pansy, Water Lily, etc.

4. What color it is – marigold, smoke, Vaseline, cobalt, etc.

5. What it looks like – describe the pattern (floral, scroll, bold, subtle, etc.) and shape of the piece (fluted edges, footed, broad, narrow, etc.)

6. Measurements – usually height and width will suffice

7. Condition – BE SPECIFIC. Even if it’s just a flea bite (ie. a very small chip) the buyer will want to know about it. Check all edges for chips, including the bottom. Run your hand along the piece, as sometimes you can feel the damage easier than you can see it.

8. Reason – this is optional, but I sometimes like to give the buyer a reason to buy. For example, you can talk about how special this piece is and why it would make a great addition to a collection. You can mention how it makes a great gift for both collectors and people who just love good display pieces. You can also mention who would like pieces like this – those who love the color purple, those who love pansies, those who love carnival glass, those who love vases, etc. Planting a seed in someone’s head is sometimes the best way to get a sale.

That’s wonderful and everything, but your information isn’t very specific, what should I buy to resell?

I am by no means an expert on carnival glass, and there’s so much out there to look at that it can take years to become familiar with everything. With that being said, I have two great resources to start you off with.

The first one is called Carnival Glass 101 and it features some great introductory information about carnival glass, the different colors, and the different terms associated with it. It’s a nice site to peruse in your spare time.

The second site is David Doty’s Carnival Glass Website and this is THE BEST site I’ve come across for carnival glass. This is a seriously well organized site for anyone who wants to do research on carnival glass. He has entire indexes on patterns, shapes, motifs, and makers. He’s also got a wonderful breakdown of colors, marks, fakes, and more. It’s a wonderful site to use to do research on pieces you’ve already got, or to learn more about different makers and patterns in general.

So, what do you think? What’s your favorite color? I’m partial to “smoke” and the really dark “amethyst” colors. Have you got a favorite piece or a favorite maker? I’d love to hear more from you guys!


4 thoughts on “How to Sell: Carnival Glass

  1. […] Doty’s Carnival Glass website. You might remember this one from when I talked about it in our How to Sell: Carnival Glass […]

  2. Shawna Crain says:

    I was given a “Bull rush and bush orchid” candy (?) dish. David Doty’s web site indicates it’s made by the Imperial glass company in Australia, and that it’s extremely rare. Any ideas on value and how best to sell it?

    Thank you so much!

  3. Deborah Williams says:

    Can you please call me i have all kind of Carnival glass and plates .punch bowls old purfume bottles .

  4. Paula sain says:

    I have an uncle and aunt who have collected carnival glass for years,,,having walls if it, She is now in hospice and he is declining also. Need to find a way to help him sell it. He is in Houston, Texas. Have any suggestion of where to start.

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