How to Buy Depression Glass

During the years of the Great Depression in the United States, many glass manufacturers produced glassware that became known as Depression glass. All types of glass items, such as plates, vases, glasses and complete dinner sets, were sold at low prices or given to consumers by business owners to encourages shoppers to visit their stores. Depression glass was produced in a wide range of clear and solid colors. Beginning in the 1960s, Depression glass was sought after by collectors and continues to be popular today. Learning how to buy Depression glass will help you select authentic, quality pieces.


  1. Image titled Buy Depression Glass Step 1
    Understand what you are looking for prior to beginning to shop for Depression glass. Most pieces were cheaply made and did not have manufacturers' marks on them. Therefore, most pieces of Depression glass are usually identified by their colors.
    • Canary yellow, purple, black, opaque white or "milk," opaque green and cobalt blue, for example, are less common colors of Depression glass that are usually more expensive and highly sought after by collectors. Common colors such as pale pink, amber, clear, blue and green pieces are easier to find and also collectible.
  2. Image titled Buy Depression Glass Step 2
    Look at actual pieces of Depression glass. Study the color and patterns to familiarize yourself about what to look for when you begin to shop for your own pieces. There are hundreds of patterns, such as flowers, leaves, waves, swirls, crimps, shapes and animals used to make Depression glass.
    • If you know someone who has a collection or several items, take the time to study them closely.
    • You can also find pieces at antique stores to look at, but make sure the staff is familiar with Depression glass.
  3. Image titled Buy Depression Glass Step 3
    Be aware that many pieces of Depression glass have flaws that are characteristic of this type of glassware.
    • Depression glass often has bubbles, imperfections and marks, because it was made using an inexpensive process and cheap materials.
    • In addition, some of the molds that were used to make Depression glass were uneven or ill-fitting, resulting in pieces with dents, irregular areas and other imperfections.
  4. Image titled Buy Depression Glass Step 4
    Decide what colors of Depression glass you prefer. You will have many options, because this type of glassware was produced in many hues of almost every color.
  5. Image titled Buy Depression Glass Step 5
    Choose the patterns of Depression glass you prefer. Swirls, flowers, birds and etchings were popular patterns.
  6. Image titled Buy Depression Glass Step 6
    Invest in a Depression glass guidebook to help you find what you are looking for and to know what prices you should expect to pay.
    • Compare prices, and check styles, patterns and colors with those listed in your guidebook to be sure you are buying authentic Depression glass pieces.


  • Purchase a variety of Depression glass pieces for a colorful collection. Over time, as pieces become harder to find, you will have a valuable, beautiful collection that is a part of American history.
  • Talk to the staff at the antique shop before making your Depression glass purchase. Make sure they are informed and can offer advice about the best pieces. Do not hesitate to ask questions.


  • Avoid pieces with signs of extreme wear and tear, such as large chips, nicks and cracks. These types of flaws are likely to detract from the value of the glass pieces.
  • Some Depression glass pieces are replicas and are not as valuable or collectible as authentic Depression glass. Do your homework, study your Depression glass guidebook and only shop at reputable stores with knowledgeable staff.

Things You'll Need

  • Depression glass
  • Antique shops
  • Depression glass guidebook

Article Info

Categories: Exhibited Arts | Art & Antiques