Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dish Night at the Movies - Depression Glass


Depression glass was brightly colored, cheaply manufactured, with bubbles and seams and flaws in the heavy glass. The distortions and imperfections which made the glassware an inexpensive premium as an inducement to attracting patrons to movie theaters in the Great Depression, which made them so easily tossed out when replaced by more affluent families with better incomes in the 1950s. Incongruously, they are valuable collectors’ pieces today.

Also called carnival glass, these platters and cups and bowls came usually in pastel tinted colors of pink and yellow, green and blue. Manufactured from around the middle of the 1920s to the around the end of World War II, they are most commonly identified with the theater-going experience of the Great Depression. For many young and struggling families, the one-piece-at-a-time dinner set was the first dinnerware they owned. “Dish Night” was a distinctive part of the experience of going to the movies in the 1930s.

For more information on Depression glass, see this website of the National Depression Glass Association.

12 comments:

operator_99 said...

Love it - so glad you reminded me of dish night. I believe towels were also a giveaway.

J.C. Loophole said...

Jean Shepherd wrote about his mom and an incident with Dish Night in "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" and it was part of the movie adaptation "My Summer Story" - a very neat flick despite Charles Grodin.

Laura said...

I love dishes! :) I collect vintage Pyrex and other odds & ends, but not Depression glass...at least yet!

Thanks for an interesting post and link.

Best wishes,
Laura

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Thanks for your comments, folks. It's sometimes fun to remember there were more than just movies at the movie theaters. I never did see that movie based on Shepherd's book, but I thought I had read the book years ago. I don't remember that bit about his mom. I'll have to see if I can get a look at that book again.

There is a certain poignancy in something produced so cheaply, given out so cheaply, and made with so many flaws become valuable collectibles and family heirlooms.

J.C. Loophole said...

There is a certain poignancy in something produced so cheaply, given out so cheaply, and made with so many flaws become valuable collectibles and family heirlooms.
Well heck, I know someone who collects Peanuts and Snoopy themed giveaways. You know- the kind you find in kids meals.
*Ahem*
(Shuffles feet)

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

"*Ahem*
(Shuffles feet)"

I swear, I wasn't looking at you when I said that.

Now eat your fries like a good boy.

Campaspe said...

How DID they get valuable? I mean, around what time? and isn't it funny that while we remember the Depression as a peak era for moviegoing, it did take a hit large enough for theater owners to start luring people with things like this ...

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

I think they started getting collectible in that 1970s nostalgia blitz that gave us everything from "American Grafitti" to 1930s radio shows on vinyl.

It is odd that the movie theaters would need to give incentive to come to the show. Perhaps with so many theaters they felt compelled to compete with each other, and not necessarily another kind of entertainment attraction (i.e. television) for the public.

dave said...

Good blog on carnival glass. It was very interesting. This beautiful art glass comes in lovely colors which are rare. The variety of styles and patterns you see in Carnival Glass are incomparable.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Thank you for your comments, Dave. Good luck with your website.

AF said...

Love this! I've got a wonderful collection of pink depression glass, and I have the platter in your picture too! Thanks for the great post!

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Thanks, AF. Great to hear from a depression glass collector.