Pretty and colorful juice glasses, also known as tumblers, are affordable to collect and available on the market to use every day and not just to display.
These glasses are sold as sets, and some as individuals, made by companies such as Hazel Atlas, Anchor Hocking, Libbey, Federal and Bartlett Collins, to name a few. The small juice glasses were also used as cocktail glasses. Patterns on these glasses were always vibrant, with red tomatoes, bright oranges, beautiful tulips, crayon-box stripes, red roosters, flowers in true blues, reds and more, along with other cheerful designs.
Many folks like to collect them, and then you have some who don't even know what they have from mom or grandma's hand-me-downs. The name “tumbler” was used by glass companies beginning in the 1920s-'30s. Going back to those old company catalogs, many of the major glass manufacturers used the term “decorative tumblers” to describe the glassware and its purposes. Companies also had coordinated patterned jugs or pitchers, utility jars or provision jars, cookie jars, cocktail shakers, ice tubs or buckets, decanters, juice reamers, refrigerator jars and more.
Most companies began decorating by hand. So if you can picture the painting of each band, flower, fruit or pattern painted on a glass, carefully done one at a time or by a team of crafty women, you can see why the colors are so vibrant. Bartlett Collins continued to decorate glasses by hand for generations, even when machinery took over for many other companies. Another printing technique was the “rotary” (turning a glass on a turret), “rubber stamping” (rubber stencil dipped in glue), “squegee'” (stencil and screen) and later, silk screening. For more information and value on this glassware, check out “The Decorated Tumbler” by Hazel Marie Weatherman.
Around 1935-36 came the introduction of “Swankyswigs.” Swankyswigs is the name that Kraft Foods gave to the reusable glass they used for their cheese spread. Many companies copied and competed with Hazel Atlas, the first company that made Swankyswigs. More information: “Swankyswigs” by Mark and Sheila Moore.
Hazel Atlas has the letter “A” inside the letter “H.” Libbey glass is marked with a circle around the letter “L,” Federal Glass has the letter “F” in a shield, and some Anchor Hocking is marked with the letter “H” over an anchor.
Sarah Kieffer, of Sarah's Uniques and Jim's “Man”tiques in St. Charles: “This is something near and dear to my heart, as I collect them as well! I have several sets for sale in the shop. They are so colorful and come in many different styles, with different carriers and pitchers as well. They usually range in price from about $30 on up to $60 or so. These pieces and sets are beautiful and great for serving ice-cold lemonade or iced tea in the summer. I find these are still practical, beautiful and highly collectible!”
Joan Thilges, of New Generations of Harmony: “We have a number of vendors selling vintage glassware, but none come close to the number our one vendor has. I started counting her sets of eight glasses and gave up when I got to three dozen. Prices for sets of eight range from $30-$69. She also has a number of vintage carriers, selling under $40.”
Brenda Jannsen, of Treasures Under Sugar Loaf in Winona: “We have two dealers who specialize in vintage glassware sets. Most glasses are priced $2-$3 each, and pitchers range from $10-$20. Some customers choose these sets for their beauty, but others have mentioned that the glasses are easier to hold for people with arthritis or aged fingers. It is fun to see the bright, cheerful summery glassware!”
Sandy Erdman is a Winona-based freelance writer and certified appraiser concentrating on vintage, antique and collectible items. Send comments and story suggestions to Sandy at email@example.com.