The Indiana Tumbler and Goblet Co. of Greentown, Indiana made glass for only nine years, 1894-1903. Yet its original products, now commonly referred to as "Greentown Glass," are among the most expensive pieces of antique American pressed glass.
Since the 1950s, at least 12 American glass companies have made copies of Greentown's famous patterns and colors. This has left a market filled with fakes, reproductions and look-alikes. Fortunately, the vast majority of copies have been made in new molds (virtually all original molds were ruined when the factory was destroyed by fire in 1903). Understanding the differences between new and old molds is the key to identifying genuine Greentown and recognizing its many imitations.
These important differences are documented in a 96-page book, A Guide to Reproductions of Greentown Glass . The book was published by the National Greentown Glass Association, Inc and edited by James Measell.
Greentown's original Holly pattern toothpick holder in Golden Agate (Holly Amber), for example, is one of the rarest and most costly pattern glass toothpicks. Originals in good condition can sell for $575-$650 and are always in demand.
The Holly toothpick was first reproduced from a new mold by St. Clair Glass in the 1960s. In 1978 the mold was sold to Summit Glass. All original Greentown Holly toothpicks were made in a three-part mold. The mold used by St. Clair and Summit was also a three-part molds. In recent years, other reproduction toothpicks have appeared in four-part molds.
All four-part molded Holly toothpicks are automatically new. The easiest way to separate three-part mold originals from the three-part mold reproductions is to count the berries where the holly vine meets the three mold lines, or seams. Counting only the berries below the vine, the St. Clair and Summit reproductions have a single berry at one seam, two berries at another seam and three berries at the third seam. The original has a single berry at one seam and two berries at each of the two other seams (see Fig. 2).
The Holly pattern was also reproduced as a two-handled sugar bowl (Fig. 1). This piece should not pose a problem to collectors since there is no vintage counterpart. The original Greentown Holly covered sugar did not have handles (Fig. 1). All handled Holly sugars are new regardless of color.
New Holly tumblers have also been widely produced. Original tumblers are flared at the top rims; new tumblers are nearly perfectly straight sided (Fig. 4). Vines in old tumblers have clusters of one, two and three berries. Vines in new tumblers have only a single berry attached (Fig. 5).
Cactus is another famous Greentown pattern that has been reproduced in tumblers for many years (Fig. 7). There are two simple tests for separating original Cactus tumblers from reproductions. First, and this test applies to almost all original Cactus, look at the beading that surrounds the cactus plant. Beading on original pieces goes completely around and in between each and every segment of the plant. Beading on reproductions does not continue down between all the segments (Fig. 6).
Top rims on original Cactus tumblers also have a pronounced flare. Top rims on reproduction Cactus tumblers are nearly perfectly flat without a flare.
James Measell is a noted authority on antique glass and has written many articles and books on the subject..