What was once a marketing ploy is now a collector's endeavor.
Green Valley Auctions is staffed with collectors and gurus who love the thrill of antique discoveries as much as any customer. Kent Botkin, GVA Auction Director, is a Depression glass collector and aficionado.
“The knowledge has come from years and years of dealing with it. One of the very first pieces I bought in 1979 was from Green Valley. The auction was still being held in the barn, and Greg was the one who handed it to me.” Botkin would have been 12 years old at the time.
“That was the beginning of all this. It’s just a fantastic way of learning through experience here at the auction. You cannot find everything on the Internet, and believe me, I’ve tried.” Through years of practice, Botkin can often tell by feel which pieces are 1980s reproductions and which pieces are originals. He also uses dozens of reference books and has a list of other seasoned collectors/dealers to call upon for help.
A collecting frenzy began in the 1980s-90s, and pieces that would have originally sold for 25 cents were hitting hammer prices of 25-30 dollars. Auctioneers benefitted greatly from this phase. The market is now more affordable and friendly for collectors. “If you want to collect pieces, now is the time,” says Botkin. In the mid-2000s, Green Valley sold a rare Cameo Center Handle Server—fetching a handsome price of $7,000.00. The truly rare pieces still demand such high prices.
What first began as an economic and marketing ploy during the Great Depression has once again become a collecting hobby in the 21st century. Depression glass would come free with the purchase of grocery and household items; for instance, buy a jar of oatmeal and get the [pink] jar with it for free. Thus, the alternative name “Oatmeal Glass.” The desire to have a cabinet of matching glass spurred the purchases of products.
Now, these glass pieces can be collected, as well as used for weddings or other events (they’re colorful and very functional), or even re-purposed into decorative items such as yard ornaments.