Comments by Alan and Lorraine Pickup
Black Carnival Glass
From HOACGA bulletin June, 2003

Black glass has its followers as can be seen in Marlena Toohey's 1998 book, A Collector's Guide to BLACK GLASS. And it seems that most glass producing companies have made some black glass at one time or another. Fenton called its black glass ebony back in the 1916 Butler Brothers wholesale catalogs. But is black glass with the iridescent carnival glass treatment somewhat of a rarity? There certainly don't seem to be many patterns found. Other than a reference by Bill Heacock back in 1985 in his Collecting Glass volume 2, there doesn't seem to be much in print about black carnival glass. He stated then that "Solid black carnival is rare (most of it made by Fenton or Sowerby, deep black amethyst carnival is scarce (most by Dugan/Diamond). Both were made by similar methods."

First, we would like to begin this article by defining what we consider "black carnival glass." You should not be able to hold it to a high intensity light source and see color through it. Occasionally you do find carnival glass examples that on quick examination seem to be black. But when a small amount of light can be transmitted through it, the basic color of the class can be identified, as an example: black amethyst. Black amethyst seems to be mentioned most but we have glass that has blue as the basic color, yet we can't say that we have ever heard of black/blue glass referred to as a color. Another example is Australian Crystal Glass Co. The first impression on the Australian dark pieces is that its basic color is black, but closer examination reveals a cross between amethyst and oxblood red.

We are told that using an excess of the colorant in the glass mix produces black glass. The two patterns pictured, the Orange Tree mug and the Holly and Rib compote were both Fenton products. Was the black glass result accidental or intentional in the case of these two carnival glass pieces? We also have a 1921 era Dugan powder jar that has an iridescent treatment inside and out that has been compared to Tiffany or Carder glass in what Dugan called their "Egyptian Lustre" line.

We have a large collection of these powder jars (or covered bon bons) from three makers, Fenton, Northwood and Dugan/Diamond. Both Fenton and Dugan made black powder jars. And it seems obvious that in the case of the Dugan example that their black jars were iridized to make the powder jar in their Egyptian Lustre line.

It may be noted that the color black is not even mentioned in carnival glass references.

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