Depression glass is mass produced, press-moulded glass manufactured between the Wars, but particularly during the 1920s and 1930s, the period corresponding with the Great Depression in the United States. Although some people restrict use of the term to American glass, especially that actually manufactured during the Depression, the name is usually more widely applied and refers generally to glass manufactured in any of several countries that had developed or adopted the technique of pressed glass, a technique that allow glass objects to be mass produced relatively inexpensively. Depression glass spans the design eras Art Nouveau and Art Deco, but is generally classed as Art Deco.
Americans usually distinguish between depression glass, which was of inferior quality and was sold at low cost in retail outlets and catalogs, or given away as premiums, and elegant glass, sold by finer retail stores. However, the line can be blurred, and some depression glass is exceptionally well-made.
That an item of glass was moulded and/or mass-produced does not automatically make it inferior, or qualify it as depression glass. For example, Lalique is known for issuing mass-produced moulded glass of very high quality.
Types of depression glass
- Iridescent glass, better known by the common name Carnival Glass, is a well-known type of Depression Glass.
- Uranium glass objects glow under UV light because of their uranium content and are highly prized. Most uranium glass is green, but there is blue uranium glass as well.
There are many depression glass collectors worldwide, and some pieces can fetch commanding prices. Depression glass can be collected by functional type, by maker, or by colour; other people have eclectic collections of glass they like.