Shopping for vintage glassware online is easy, but finding exactly what you want can be hard. This guide will help you out with key styles, terms, colors, and brands to search for.
Have you ever ordered a drink at a restaurant or bar and marveled at the glass in which it was served? Do you find yourself admiring ornate vintage plates and goblets at weddings, but assume they’re hard-to-find or too expensive for your home? Then this is the guide for you! With the right tips, you can easily find beautiful, reasonably-priced pieces online for your own parties or for day-to-day use. You just need to know how to search.
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So, you lusted after that adorable, dark red glass holding your latte at the coffee shop, but you don’t know how to find it online. You start your search with “red vintage glass,” but you get results for vases, casserole dishes, decanters—nothing matches what you saw at the café. The first step is knowing some basic names for the style of glassware you want.
“Juice glasses” or “tumblers” will help you find something with a flat bottom, like this set of ruby red Anchor Hocking tumblers. If you want stems, and maybe more of a “Game of Thrones” vibe, use the word “goblets” in your vintage glassware search. Then, you’ll see items like this pair of Avon ruby red goblets. “Footed” will find you drinking glasses with a base like with these daisy-pattern amber footed tumblers.
If you really want to go down a rabbit hole with all the specific glass types, you might look for coupes like these Libbey Champagne coupes, flutes like these Libbey champagne flutes, or lowball glasses like these Anchor Hocking green lowball rocks glasses. These types of searches work well if your prefer very specific types of glasses; otherwise, more basic searches can be very successful.
Plates are a little less mysterious. You may differentiate between dinner plates, salad plates, lunch plates, saucers, or dessert plates, but these will mainly affect the size of plate you are looking for—you can just as easily search for “large” or “small.” Take a look at these Jane Ray green milk glass plates, which describe the larger plates as dinner plates, and the smaller plates as lunch or salad plates.
For bowls, you can make dessert time whimsical with sherbet dishes, like these iridescent orange Federal Glass sherbet dishes. Or, searching for “soup bowls” or “cereal bowls” will help find you a more versatile size and style, as with these avocado green Anchor Hocking bowls.
Look for thick glass if you want a sturdier, more everyday use out of the glassware, or prepare to exercise some caution around more delicate glasses you might break out for fancier adults-only cocktail parties. Look for exact measurements as provided by the online sellers, too, to make sure you don’t receive a tiny cordial glass when you thought you ordered a large wine goblet!
Now that you know how to find the right shape of glass or size of plate, there’s a good chance you have some colors in mind. Simply searching for your preferred hue will be helpful, but much of this glassware utilizes very specific color terms. You might have noticed a few mentions of “ruby red” in the above examples, and that phrase will help you find glassware with a deep red color like with these ruby red Anchor Hocking glass sherbet bowls. We also noted an “amber” set of glasses, and you can see this specific golden-yellow tone in this set of amber Indiana glasses.
“Avocado” (as also mentioned above) will find you these avocado Anchor Hocking tumblers in a more faded green, while “forest green” will bring you a richer, darker shade like with these forest green Anchor Hocking juice glasses. “Aqua” is a lighter blue like in these vintage aqua blue juice glasses, whereas “cobalt” returns results in the deeper blue you see in these cobalt blue Avon tumblers. These specific hues are more important if you are particular about the color you want, or if you are putting together matching sets. Otherwise, try basic color searches, and enjoy browsing all the lovely, varied results.
For more shimmery-looking glasses (think of those mermaid trends), try “iridescent” or “carnival” in your search terms. You might want something with a hint of shimmer, like these vintage carnival glass goblets, or for a full-on color blast, check out these Mosser carnival glass tumblers.
Searching for “milk glass” will give you those pieces that have opaque, creamy color, like a coat of paint. Milk glass might be all white, true to its name, like these Indiana Glass milk glass salad plates, or, it might come in colors like these Hazel Atlas milk glass saucers. It may even have a pretty pattern, like on these vintage milk glass pedestal mugs.
Seek out similar-colored sets for a cohesive look in your kitchen and dining area, or mix-and-match colors and styles to add more whimsy to parties, dinnertime, or even your everyday water glass usage.
Familiarity with brands will be the most helpful when (as with colors), you are looking to put together a consistent set of glassware, but you might also find that you gravitate toward certain glass companies’ designs. That cute, red latte glass I mentioned earlier? That’s a personally-true example, and it turns out it can be found by looking for “Avon ruby red tumblers” on Etsy, producing results like this set of footed Avon ruby red tumblers. This is extremely helpful for comparing prices; once you have the right search down, you can find the best deal for yourself!
Here are some brands to help get you started—at least, these are more common ones you’ll find while searching online, along with a little snippet about each:
- Anchor Hocking – formed in 1937 after 1905-established Hocking Glass Company merged with Anchor Cap Corporation
- Avon – their ruby red Cape Cod collection, discontinued in 1993, may be commonly found in thrift stores and online, according to the Minnesota Post Bulletin
- Federal Glass Company – started with hand-blown glass in 1900, but moved to mass production in the 1920s, contributing to the production of “Depression glass,” according to Hunker.com
- Fosteria – its American pattern is noted to be “the most successful pattern in the history of glass making,” according to the Fostoria Glass Society of America
- Hazel Atlas – began with fruit jar production in the late 1800s, according to the Society for Historical Archaeology
- Indiana Glass Company – originators of that chicken-shaped candy dish you have likely seen at some point
- L.G. Wright – established in 1838, the founder began as a reseller of glass, according to the Corning Museum of Glass.
- Libbey – began as New England Glass Company in 1818, now the top glass manufacturer in the Americas.
- Mosser Glass – founder started manufacturing in a chicken coop in 1959.
- Pyrex – established as a solution to a cracked casserole dish problem in 1914, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
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This indispensable food container set reflects why Pyrex has thrived over the past century.
- Viking Glass – known for pieces’ propensity for color, according to VikingArtGlass.com.
Now, you have an excellent base from which to start your search for dreamy vintage glassware. So toss (or rather, donate to your local charity or resale shop) your old, heavy pub pint glasses, and explore the world of antique, colorful, beautiful glassware.
Header image courtesy of Etsy.