Hobnail glass has a regular pattern of raised knobs like the hobnail studs sometimes used on boot soles. It can be a pattern created by blowing a glass vessel into a mold, or it can be achieved by pressing the glass into a mold. It was very popular during Victorian times, usually in hand blown, translucent colored glass, which is sometimes called “Dew Drop Glass”.
Lemonade sets with a pitcher and matching glasses were very common at the turn of the century.
In 1939 Fenton Art Glass first introduced their hobnail glass and in those early years it was in translucent colors. Milk glass hobnail was introduced by Fenton in 1950, and proved to be one of their most successful products. It kept the company going during the very difficult years when many other glassworks closed down.
The popularity of milk glass in the early ’50s led the company to develop a line of white hobnail glass. It was so well liked during this time; they could count on it as a sure seller for many years to come. Now, while these pieces remain collectible, they are usually reasonably priced on the secondary market.
The unique ruffles edges found on many Fenton wares lent themselves perfectly to the creation of their “Crest” lines. Opaque glass was used to form the base of these items while a clear or colored border around the ruffled edge added a touch of interest.
Pieces with a clear ruffle were named “Silver Crest,” while those with a bright green border were called “Emerald Crest.” Other colors applied in the same fashion are popular with collectors including the “Snow Crest” and “Ebony Crest” pieces with reversed effect along the edges in opaque white or black.
Many Fenton shapes have been produced in hobnail milk glass. Pre-1958 Fenton milk glass is said to be easily distinguishable because it is less dense, less opaque, than their milk glass made from 1958 onwards. Also, the Fenton logo was introduced on milk glass from 1974 onwards, with a tiny number 8 below the word Fenton for pieces made during the 1980’s and a tiny 9 for pieces from the nineties.
Many USA companies, including Hobbs Brockunier & Co, Fenton Art Glass, Westmoreland Glass, Kemple Glass, as well as several British companies, have made hobnail glass. Today it is also imported from China and Taiwan.