Collector's Corner: 1970s Glassware: Collectible of the Future, or the Present?
By Toby Aulman
When someone mentions the phrase "collectible glass," what comes to mind? Unless you're a Fenton collector, your list most likely won't include items made as recently as the 1970s, but perhaps it should.
Those of us that were teenagers during the 1970s are now in our mid 30s to mid 40s. Census Bureau estimates show that about 16% of the U.S. population currently falls into that 35-44 age group, the largest of any 10-year age span. That would make sense, as most of us are children of post WWII baby boomers. So, you ask, what does this have to do with collectible glass? Well, it's these same second-generation boomers that are now settled in their careers and families and wish to recapture memories of their childhood.
I know, now you want to know what some of these 1970s patterns are. Probably the largest category is contemporary carnival glass. A number of companies that produced vintage carnival glass 50 to 60 years earlier, such as Fenton, Imperial, and Westmoreland, dusted off the old moulds and reissued many of those same patterns beginning in the late 1960s. Most other glass companies also and offered irridized lines, some of them reproductions of vintage carnival glass, but most were just new irridized versions of their existing lines. The reissues by vintage carnival makers are the most widely collected, often selling for close to vintage pieces of the same pattern. The reproduction and new irridized lines are more abundant, and therefore more hit-and-miss as to their collectibility. While prices on most pieces are under $10, the less common items or colors can sell for $50 to $100 or more. For example, Indiana Glass produced an irridized version of their Harvest Grape line in several colors. Most pieces sell for around $5, but the canisters in blue can bring 10 times that or more. http://www.auctionbytes.com/images/harvestgrape.jpg
This same pricing trend holds true for other 1970s patterns. Anchor Hocking's Early American Prescut (EAPC) http://www.auctionbytes.com/images/eapc.jpg and Wexford lines http://www.auctionbytes.com/images/wexford.jpg are two more prime examples. It can be difficult to give away some of the most common items, but if you want iced tea tumblers in either pattern, you'll likely have to pay $10 to $15 each for them. If it's an EAPC oil lamp you covet, you'd better have $300 to spare!
Serving pieces and accessories from many Corelle patterns, such as Spring Blossom (Crazy Daisy), Butterfly Gold, and others, can demand prices of $25 to $50. During the mid-70s, my mother was a Princess House consultant, and a number of the lines she sold are now quite sought after. http://www.auctionbytes.com/images/PHfantasia.jpg Viking's Epic line, particularly the animal figures, is becoming increasingly popular among collectors. http://www.auctionbytes.com/images/epicduck.jpg
The examples I've noted are just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens more, and the list will continue to grow as the months and years pass. The best answer to the question I ask in the title is "both" - many 1970s patterns are collectible now, and will likely continue to increase in value as the passage of time sees a decrease in supply. As time goes by and prices rise on these patterns, others will become collectible. Now, if any of you have some influence with any trendsetters, can you speak to them about avocado glass? I can't stand the color myself, but I know where I can get tons of it cheap.
About the author:
Toby Aulman is a "student of glass", who enjoys researching glass as much as he does hunting for and finding glass treasures. He collects late Victorian Era blue opalescent glass. His primary area of study is American pressed patterns from the last 100 years, with an emphasis on poorly documented patterns from the 1940's to 1970's http://www.PixClix.com/glassproject/. When not buying, selling, or studying glass he works from home as a Web Developer http://www.abzoid.com. Toby also moderates the AuctionBytes Glass Forum.
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