andlewick glassware is an icon of a nostalgic period from the not-too-distant past. It is easily identified by tiny glass beads interwoven into a pattern that produces an elegant and beautiful look. Manufactured from 1936 to 1984 by the Imperial Glass Company, thousands and thousands of pieces were made. Even though values and demand have dropped, the astute veteran and novice collector still prowl for the perfect piece.
There are hundreds of different shapes and designs, including teacups, dinner plates and wine glasses. Some unique pieces were made for the home, including mustard and mayonnaise holders, banana bowls, compotes, ashtrays, nut dishes, cigarette boxes, and punch bowls. The commonplace items hold the least value at $10-$30 per piece; however, the difficult and hard-to-find items, such as the banana boat and covered punch set, are worth more. For example, a 15-piece gold punch set is worth around $3,750.
Imperial Glass Company was founded in 1904. It produced jelly glasses and tumblers, but from 1910 through the early 1930s, the company catapulted itself into one of the nation’s foremost suppliers of Carnival glass. Candlewick became one of the all-time best sellers because it was a high-quality crystal and affordable for the average family. Imperial Glass created the glass jewel for the common person’s use.
The distinctive glass beading on each piece is Candlewick’s signature. The name comes from a style of needlework based on the embroidered French knot made on unbleached cotton muslin popular in Colonial times. Hence, the name “Candlewick” was created in 1936.
Candlewick’s heyday was from its inception to the mid-1950s when the finest department stores offered their glassware in America. It was also sold in Woolworth’s, Kresge’s and other five and dime stores. This marketing technique opened the glassware to every level of society.
The older pieces of Candlewick have a slight grayish or bluish tint when held to the light. It wasn’t until the late 1930s that Imperial achieved total crystal clarity in its glasswares. Real Candlewick, especially the older pieces, will have a flat ground bottom and coarse rims. Anchor Hocking and Libbey glass companies tried to make their own line, called “Boopie,” with larger glass beads and mold lines. There is little to no value in the copycats.
My grandmother left me her prized collection of dinnerware that she used only on special occasions. As she once said, “no one will ever want this silly old woman’s folly of glass dishes that are so easily scratched and have only been used on those memorable events in life.”
How wrong she was. My family has continued to cherish those moments and each new scratch covering most of the dinner plates. With the affordable prices of most of the pieces, anyone can start a collection steeped in history with the American ideals of entrepreneurship, hard work and perseverance.