Custard glass from the
Glass Encyclopedia

custard glass

This toothpick holder
in custard glass reads:
"United to Assist" and
is dated 1918. Made by
Jefferson Glass, USA.
Name: ring and beads.

custard glass

Another Jefferson piece
this custard glass sauce
dish from c. 1912 is
"diamond with peg".

If you are looking for
Custard Glass there
is always some for sale
on eBay. See what there
is just now - click
Custard glass

Custard Glass: A short explanation

Custard glass is opaque yellow glass, reminiscent of the color of custard. It can vary from pale ivory to bright yellow/green, and sometimes it is decorated, often with gold and/or with roses. The name Custard Glass is used by collectors. The original makers used all kinds of names, most commonly it was called "ivory glass".

Custard glass is not new, it was one of the earliest colors in glass. Opaque yellow glass was used to decorate core-formed glass vessels more than three and a half thousand years ago in Mesopotamia, and later in Egypt.

The formula was forgotten, and it was one of the "new" colors invented in Bohemia around 1870 which spread to Britain in the 1880s and to the USA by around 1885. It was very popular for nearly two decades in the USA, from about 1895 until around 1908. By 1915 it had become far less common.

The Chinese made yellow opaque glass in the 16th century AD, in imitation of yellow glazed porcelain which was used only by the Imperial family in China at that time. The Palace Workshops (Imperial Glassworks) set up by the Chinese emperor Kang Xi made a wide range of vases and vessels in varying shades of opaque yellow from around 1700 AD onwards.

Opaque yellow glass was made thousands of years ago by adding iron compounds to the glass. Later it was produced by adding a combination of silver, lead and oxide of antimony. In the early 19th century, lead chromate was added to glass to turn it opaque yellow. And the version that became so popular in Europe and the USA from the 1870s onwards, was made by adding various combinations and strengths of uranium and sulphur into the glass mix before it was melted. Most US custard glass will therefore glow in ultra-violet light.

In the 1880s Thomas Webb's glassworks in England made some beautiful blown glass in opaque custard color. Sowerby of Gateshead, in the North East of England made high quality pressed glass in both ivory and custard color in the late 1880s.

During its heyday in the USA, custard glass was made by several companies. Dithridge and Co. were possibly the first US company to make custard glass, perhaps as early as 1894. The most successful company was Northwood Glass of Indiana, who introduced a decorated "ivory" in a pattern they called Louis XV in 1898. This superb custard glass, decorated with gold enamel, was an instant success and Northwood followed it with a series of other patterns.

Encouraged by this success several other companies were soon producing custard glass, notably Heisey and Fenton. Heisey had two forms of custard glass which they called Opal (almost white) and Ivorina Verde. Until the rise in popularity of Carnival Glass around 1908, custard glass continued to be highly popular. But it had almost disappeared from the advertisements and catalogues by 1915.

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