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Jeannette Glass Company’s Floral pattern is nicknamed “Poinsettia.” There is no better time to take a look at Floral than now as Christmas approaches, as no single flower represents this holiday season better than the Poinsettia which decorates every piece of glassware in this pattern.
Jeannette Glass Company History
Located in the center of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, about 25 miles east of Pittsburgh and in the south west corner of the state, the community of Jeannette bears the name of the wife of H. Sellers McKee, one of the first owners of McKee Glass Works. No other single town in America produced more glassware than Jeannette, with a fortuitous location near the Pennsylvania Railroad and rich in the natural resources - coal, coke, and natural gas - needed to support the production of glass. In fact, this area was so rich in natural resources that Westmoreland County was a center for the production of steel, rubber, brick, aluminum, lumber, and more. United States Census Bulleting No. 163 issued in 1902 indicated that the county had 624 manufacturing businesses, indeed a significant number for a rural area.
The application for a charter to start the town of Jeannette was approved in 1887, the town was plotted in April 1888, and by April 1889 four thousand individuals already called Jeannette “home.” This town, along with nearby Arnold and Mt. Pleasant, became one of the most important locations for glass production in the United States.
The Jeannette Bottle Works began operations in 1888 and after several changes of ownership became the Jeannette Glass Company in 1898. It was one of seven large glass factories in or right near the community: The American Window Glass Company, The Pittsburgh Lamp, Brass and Glass Company, The Westmoreland Specialty Company, The Clifford-Chappelle Fan Company, The Fort Pitt Glass Company, and McKee Brothers' Works which eventually became the McKee-Jeannette Glass Works.
Apothecary, beverage, and other bottles were handmade at Jeannette Bottle Works, but with the introduction of the O’Neill semi-automatic bottle blowing machine in 1899 Jeannette first expanded production to include wide-mouth jars and then to lens covers, glass blocks, and more.
In 1917 American 3-Way Luxfer Prism Company bought controlling interest of the Jeannette Bottle Works and the entire plant was converted to the manufacture of pressed ware. It is this pressed glassware that most collectors think of when considering Jeannette products, and in fact the Floral (Poinsettia) pattern is among the most recognizable Jeannette pressed patterns along with Iris and Cherry Blossom.
Two important facts are worth noting as one considers the history of glass manufacturing before the Great Depression of 1929: colorful, hand blown glass dinnerware had already become available at prices only the wealthy could afford, and across the United States more than one hundred factories were engaged in the glass making business. The invention of equipment that created mass-produced, machine-pressed glassware brought the price to create colored dinnerware to such a low cost that it could be given away free with the purchase of a good or service, hence the initiation of what is now referred to as “Depression Glass.” By the end of the Depression more than half of the American glass factories had closed, but those engaged in the production of this cheaply manufactured dinnerware and accessories were able to survive, and Jeannette Glass Company was among these successful enterprises.
Manufacturing of glassware continued for decades with the peak of production being in 1930. Jeannette Glass Company bought McKee, which had become a division of Thatcher Glass Manufacturing Company in 1961 and moved into their factory in 1962. The factory was closed in 1983.
The Floral Pattern
Some Depression Glass patterns were so successful that they were produced for fifteen years or more like the Jeannette Glass Company pattern Windsor which was in production from 1932-1946 or Cherry Blossom that thrived for ten years. Floral was only made for five years, 1931-1935, in a rainbow of color choices with three transparent colors: crystal (clear), pink, and green, and four opaque colors: jade-ite, Delphite, Cremax, and black.
The five year life of Floral, nicknamed Poinsettia as the glassware features an all-over Poinsettia motif, produced a vast array of interesting pieces with noteworthy variations that leave today’s collectors asking questions that cannot be readily answered. We’ll first examine what is known.
There are forty-seven different pieces of Floral, and most of these are dinnerware. There are bathroom and kitchen pieces as well, these being rare for Jeannette dinnerware lines.
The variety of tableware includes many options resulting in a very useable pattern. Floral has six different bowls able to meet the needs of most households ranging in size from the 4” diameter ruffled berry bowl to the 9” diameter oval vegetable bowl. The other bowls have diameters of 5.5”, 7.5”, and 8” so certainly there was a bowl sized to meet Mother’s needs, and the 8” bowl even has a cover. There are four plates: 6” sherbet plate, 8” salad plate, 9” dinner plate, and a 9” grill plate along with two different serving platters. The five tumblers were made flat and footed, and they are as small as a 3.5” juice glass and as large as a 5.25” lemonade glass. Floral has two different salt and pepper shakers, 4” footed and 6” flat. The smaller ones have been reproduced and this information is clarified at the end of the article.
Other pieces for the table include a covered butter dish, a 3.25” diameter coaster, a creamer and covered sugar bowl, a cup, and a saucer.
Additional Floral glassware that one could consider dinnerware includes a 4” candlestick, a covered candy jar, a 3.5” tall ice tub, a 5.5” milk pitcher, an 8” water pitcher and a 10.25” lemonade pitcher, a two-part relish dish, a footed sherbet, a 9” comport, and a 6” square tray.
Bathroom pieces are relatively rare in Depression Glass, but the Floral motif decorates a dresser set consisting of a 9.25” x 6” rimmed tray on which sat one 4” diameter, 1.75” deep lidded powder jar and one 3” diameter, 1.5” deep covered rouge box.
Jeannette Glass Company produced a separate line of kitchen glassware marketed as “Jennyware,” so there was little need for additional kitchen glass. However, the Floral pattern does include square containers for storing leftovers in the ice box. Floral kitchenware is limited to refrigerator dishes, again something relatively rare in Depression Glass dinnerware patterns. The bases of the refrigerator dishes are plain, but the Floral motif is pressed into the underside of the lids. These are found in two sizes: shallow bases were made in transparent green and Delphite and 5.25” tall bases were made in jade-ite.
There are a few uncommon pieces that are not often seen in any Depression Glass patterns. One such item is a lamp, and Floral has a 3.5” tall lamp that was created using a sherbet. Another rarity is a flower frog that was made to fit the footed rose bowl/vase. There are two other Floral vases.
Most Depression Glass dinnerware was produced in transparent colors or clear glass. Floral is primarily found in transparent pink and transparent green, with more green items than pink. The dresser set, 9” grill plates, refrigerator dishes, 3.5” footed juice tumblers, and vases were made in green but not in pink. One can assume that pink was first offered and with the success of the pattern additional items were created in green. These green-only pieces tend to be among the most value of all the Floral offerings. In fact, the Holy Grail of Floral is the green 11” faceted rim platter which Jim and I list as “too rare to price” in our Mauzy glass books.
Other difficult to find Floral includes the tray and containers for the dresser set in green, the 3-footed rose bowl with the flower frog in green or crystal, and the 9” comport in either green or pink. The cream soup and ice tub in both pink and green are also difficult to find. In fact, the pink cream soup and pink ice tub represent the most elusive pieces of pink Floral.
After decades of documenting Depression Glass we have come to realize there seems to be no end to what is “out there” and Jim and I consider our pattern listings to be living, breathing organisms that continue to grow. Factory workers were given a certain amount of freedom to experiment, and bosses and company owners sometimes requested specialty items for a gift or commemorative event. Some glass aficionados use the term “Sweetheart Glass” to refer to a perhaps one-of-a-kind item that was created singularly by a factory worker to present to his sweetheart, and many of these elusive pieces still await discovery and documentation. Jim and I photographed a black 4.75” footed tumbler in Oregon and have no idea if any others exist.
Other interesting variations include the jade-ite refrigerator dishes mentioned above. Few Depression Glass dinnerware lines include any kitchen glass, and there is no other pattern that offers matching kitchen glass in jade-ite even though the dinnerware was not produced in this lovely opaque green glass.
Floral was also made in Cremax, an off-white opaque glassware, and pieces include: 7.5” bowl, creamer, and sugar.
Two vases, the 6.75” eight-sided and three-footed flared, can be found in crystal or clear.
There were several pieces of Floral dinnerware manufactured in Delphite. These opaque Wedgewoodish blue pieces include: 7.5” diameter smooth salad bowl, 8” diameter vegetable bowl, creamer and sugar, 9” diameter dinner plate, 10.75” oval platter, 11” facetted platter, refrigerator dishes (the undersides of the lids feature the Floral motif), two-part relish dish, sherbet, and 4.75” tall water tumbler.
Now Floral gets a bit more confusing to document and thus we enter the realm of the unknown. There are variations of Floral glassware that were sold only in the United Kingdom in a shade of green different from that offered domestically. We assume there are more variations than these three, the only ones validated thus far: flat tumbler, rimmed dinner plate, and sherbet with the Floral motif on the foot, and anticipate a time when more information is made available to us. Thus a cloud of mystery still surrounds this pattern that potentially has quite a bit more.
Markings on the Glassware
Most Depression Glassware dinnerware is unmarked. One may assume that designers realized that a company trademark or logo would not enhance the look of a patterned plate. There are a few exceptions, but most of the glassware from Jeannette Glass Company and its competitors were identified with paper labels.
Jeannette Glass Company did utilize three forms of demarcation on their glassware, although one would be hard pressed to find this on any Depression Glass dinnerware, and certainly on Floral glassware. These trademarks are: a “J” in a square, a “J” in a goblet, and the most commonly-seen “J” in a triangle. Although most of the Jeannette kitchen glass is also unmarked, an occasional piece of kitchenware is found with the “J” in a triangle.
An article such as this is an imperfect way to address glass value and readers are invited to check any Mauzy glass book for more specific value information. It is important to note that value is a function of supply and demand and when two collectors are in competition for the same item(s) in an auction situation be it eBay or brick and mortar, values may temporarily seem to escalate.
One needs to take a broad view of trends, and unfortunately, the trend in Depression Glass is decreasing values. This being said, the rare is still rare and those items that are listed in Mauzy’s Depression Glass with the highest values or as too rare to price are those pieces that are the most difficult to find. We regularly see hard-to-find items selling for more than the values suggested in our guides.
Condition is paramount as glassware that is damaged or repaired has been compromised and will be worth a fraction of a flawless item.
Original packaging greatly enhances the value of glassware. Perfect boxes can increase the value of the glass inside by $25-50 and even a damaged box will still have some worth. An original sticker will increase an item’s value by about ten percent. One can assume anything found in an original box or still retaining a sticker was never used and therefore remains in perfect condition.
A measure of a pattern’s popularity can partly be determined by whether or not it has been reproduced. Floral has fallen victim to being reproduced, but at the time of this writing only the 4” footed shakers are of concern. New shakers have been created in red, cobalt blue, and dark green; these are colors that were never used by Jeannette Glass for Floral. Shakers have also been newly-made in pink but the hue is wrong, and this is obvious when compared to vintage pink Floral. Original Floral shakers have the Poinsettia motif on their feet, new shakers do not. There are a few other more difficult to discern characteristics, but this information should be enough to allow one to identify reproductions.
As with all vintage glassware, buying from a reputable dealer is always the safest way to ensure the legitimacy of any purchase.
Mauzy, Barbara & Jim. Mauzy’s Depression Glass, 4th edition. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2005.
Here's a bowl in green, just for you, Lynn S.
Here's the Floral coaster. Note the rays or ridges to elevate a tumbler. In the event of condensation this is supposed to keep the bottom of the tumbler dry.
Now, take a look. This is the Cherry Blossom coaster. Floral and Cherry Blossom were made by the same company: Jeannette. I hope it is easy for you to see that the same mold was utilized to create these coasters. The only difference is the details of the pattern - cherries versus poinsettias. This was done deliberately to keep the cost of production as low as possible. There was little concern for quality as most of the glass was going to be given away to the consumer. If the glass was to be free the manufacturing costs had to be low, low, low...and quality was low...low...low. Barbara