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by Brian Callahan

Introduction
Resources
Glossary
Questions
Summary

Introduction

Greetings. This FAQ is designed to describe and explain "Cartoon and Character Glass Collecting and Collectors". This is NOT an intro to a Mailing List or Newsgroups, there is none for glasses at this time.

Collectible Cartoon and Character Drinking Glasses have increased in popularity as an enjoyable collectible in the last few years. Many collectors specialize in various areas, including Cartoon, Disney, Warner Brothers, Sports, Restaurant and Fast Food, Soft Drink, World's Fair and Historical Topics, Movies, Gas Station and other areas.

What are Collectible Glasses?

Collectible glasses are drinking glasses or tumblers that were produced from the 1930's to the present time, and were distributed as advertising by dairies, restaurants, gas stations, food products, premiums and retail stores.

These glasses were used as food containers, premiums at stores, restaurants, gas stations, etc. and some were and are purchased at retail stores. Often there are regional distribution patterns to these glasses, making certain glasses harder to find in some areas than others.

As in all collectibles condition is important. Collectors prefer the glasses to be without defects such as chips, scratches, off register printing and dull colors. Dishwashing in an automatic dishwasher or with scouring pads can severely dull the colors and almost ruin the collectibility of the glass. Most glasses sold to collectors at shows and markets range between $1 and $20, with some harder to find or very desirable glasses going for higher prices.

The leaders in desirability and price are early Kentucky Derby glasses, Preakness and Belmont Stakes glasses, older Disney glasses, sample and prototype glasses from the 70's and hard to find Pepsi logo glasses. There are many character collectors who only collect certain characters and they also are searching for these glasses. Also collectors pursue the associated items such as pitchers, decanters, boxed sets, trays, advertising pieces, jelly lids, restaurant displays, etc.

Who is collecting glasses and why?

An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people in the US and elsewhere are collecting glasses, many of them are specific character collectors. They are collecting for fun and adventure. Since money and prices are involved some are collecting for profit too.

Generally speaking beer glasses, whiskey glasses, tableware and Depression Glasses are not considered part of the Collectible Glasses scene, although they obviously are quite desirable in their own right, they are just collected by a different group of people.

Where can I find glasses?

Look for glasses at antique shops and malls, flea markets, yard sales, retail stores and restaurants with new promotions, thrift shops, auctions and friends. Glass dealers and traders advertise in the Collector Glass News and other Antique and Collector publications. Keep your eyes open for promotions in your area.

Where can I sell glasses?

You can sell glasses at the same places you bought them from, especially flea markets, antique malls and specialty dealers and glass auctions. If you know any collectors let them know what you have for sale. Use the price guides to identify the glasses that you have and make sure the ones you have for sale are in mint condition. No one wants a bad condition glass unless it is rare, and most don't want many common glasses.

How much is this glass worth?

It is worth what someone will pay. Sell it to somebody and you will find out what it is worth. Look in a price guide or talk to a dealer who has one or has sold one recently.

What is this glass?

To identify a glass use one or more of the references listed below. If you can't find it in the books, talk to a knowledgeable dealer who specializes in glasses at a local flea market or mall. One neat thing about glasses is that there are still lots of great glasses waiting to be discovered out there. Sometimes if the glass has a character on it, or is from a specific time frame, you can get an identification from a book that specializes in that character or time period. You can also look for the brief description in the PGCA glass listing. Also you can leave a message on the message board at www.pgcaglassclub.com.

Resources

Clubs and Organizations

PROMOTIONAL GLASS COLLECTORS ASSOCIATION

You are here! This is the national club for glass collectors. The club sends a newsletter, The Gatherer, out regularly, as well as sponsors meetings and events. Dues are $20 per year. All members are furnished with the membership list, which is useful for contacts, trading, etc. You may also elect to be anonymous. The PGCA also maintains a list of glasses that is available to members. A first class subscription to Collector Class News is included with membership. I urge all collectors to join this fun group! Please visit the JoinPGCA page for more details and to sign up.

PGCA ANNUAL MEETING

The PGCA holds many regional meetings and one annual meeting. Buying, trading, selling, Show and Tell, Silent auctions, swapping, and a business meeting are the highlights of each meeting. You are guaranteed to see more glasses that weekend than you thought existed! Also the PGCA sponsors glasses that are available to members. Check the PGCA web site for meeting dates and more meeting information.

Online Resources

Index of Collector Glass News Articles

Reference Books

Collector Glass News
"An international publication providing current news to collectors of cartoon, fast food, sports and promotional glassware"

Editor: Brent Sehnert
Published 4 times a year, with articles, pictures, display and classified ads, this is the preeminent publication in the field. Newsletter for the Promotional Glass Collectors Association. This publication comes with annual PGCA membership, cost of membership is $20. All subscriptions include a free classified ad.
CGN, c/o Marilyn Johnson 528 Oakley Central Point, OR 97502

Tomart's Price Guide to Character and Promotional Glasses

The Third Edition, released in 2001, is the latest edition and provides good coverage and price information, most glasses are pictured in black and white with some color pages as well.
Authors: Tom Hoder and Carol Markowski.

Collectible Drinking Glasses

This full color reference book was released November 14, 1995, and a new edition with updated prices was published in 1998. From Collector Books, it shows most of the popular and desirable sets in full color, with accurate pricing and identification.
Authors: Mark E. Chase and Michael J. Kelly

These two books above are the two best and most current books available. Several of the "glass", "flea market" "collectibles" and "toy" price guides have sections on glasses. The newer books are actually quite accurate in the pricing, but have a small selection of glasses, and don't describe the price variations within sets at all.

Auction catalogs, if they have pictures, are useful References as well. Books that have small but useful sections on glasses include the Milk Glass book by Betty Newbound, Childrens Dishes by Whitmyer, Decorated Tumbler by Weatherman. Fire King books by Kilgore and by Gene Florence have some character mugs and bowls pictured also. Earlier books on glasses include the first book by Chase/Kelly, and COLLECTOR'S GUIDE TO CARTOON & PROMOTIONAL DRINKING GLASSES by John Hervey. Many of these books are available at the library.

Auctions

Collector Glass News - they run an auction in each newsletter, four times a year. You get the prices realized each time, so along with the other newsletter stuff it's a great deal.

Hakes Americana and Collectibles - usually has a few good glasses in each auction, as will other collectibles auctions.

eBay - always has glasses listed, 24/7.

Numbering Schemes

Each of the three main books had the glasses listed with numbers associated with them. These numbers are sometimes used by auctions and collectors/dealers in describing glasses.

The Chase /Kelly first book organized mainly by sponsor (Pepsi,Coke,McDonalds,Welchs) and their numbers were 5 characters, 2 alpha and 3 numeric, like PP501. PP would be the designation for Pepsi, the number defines the exact glass.

The Markowski book uses Tomart numbers, the organization being mainly by the character or the scenes on the glass or glass set. Once again 5 characters, with a 1 alpha and 4 numeric code, like W3216. However, the new Tomart book is expected to use different numbers.

The Hervey book was organized in a similar manner and used numbers as designations for sets, the number being an undetermined length (generally 2,3 or 4 alpha) like PWBA, then the glasses in the set were numbered like PWBA13.

The PGCA glass database uses a different system which incorporates the main sponsor and a base number. An example: AAF1000.

Glossary

ACTION - several characters depicted on the glass are engaged in various actions. As opposed to STILL,SINGLE CHARACTER.

ANCHOR HOCKING - American glass company, it's mark has an anchor.

BROCKWAY - Thick tapered clear glass tumbler made by the Brockway Company. Tall 16oz or small 12oz.

BUTTON BOTTOM -A indented bottom on the glass. EXAMPLE: McDonald's tall action set.

CANADIAN - Glass made and/or distributed in Canada. Often hard to find, also some nice newer sets from Gas stations. Might have "D" on bottom.

DOMINION - Dominion glass company from Canada, D mark.

EMBOSSING - A character impressed into the bottom of a glass, usually a jelly jar. The Welchs sets used embossing with the characters faces.

FADING - Loss of gloss and/or color in a glass, from misuse, dishwashing, sunlight, what have you. Fading can range from mild to totally trashed.

FEDERAL - Thin straight sided glass made by the Federal Glass Company. Tall 16oz, medium 14oz or small 12oz glasses. This can also mean the glass has a "F" Federal logo on the bottom.

FOREIGN - Glass made outside of Canada or the USA. Lots of great glasses Internationally.

FROSTED - Glass has been treated with acid to the surface giving a frosted opaque texture.

HAZEL ATLAS - Glass company that made many older glasses and food containers, large H over A mark. This mark sometimes confused for Anchor Hocking.

ICED TEA - Tall 6 1/2" approx. usually frosted tumbler, popular in the 50's and 60's.

JUICE - small size glass, for small servings of juice. Many frosted ice tea sets have juice sets with the same designs.

LIBBY - Safedge glass developed in the 30's, has noticeable safedge rim. In the 70's and 80's the popular small pedestal Libby glass. Example:30's early Disney Example:80's McDonalds Muppet Capers

LUN - The Pepsi logo is underneath the character and on the face of the glass, instead of the side of the glass.

MANAGER'S GLASS - A glass sent only to the manager of a restaurant (like McDonalds) which advertised an upcoming glass promotion. Scarce glasses!

MIB - Mint in Box. Applies to glasses in boxed sets.

MILK GLASS - White opaque glass tumblers or more often mugs. Milk glass cereal bowls are popular also.

MONKEES OF MELBOURNE - Colorful, frosted glasses from Australia.

MUG - A handled drinking glass. Many people include Mugs in their collecting, some do not collect "handles".

NG - No gloss. Badly faded.

NL - No logo. Often no Pepsi or Arbys logo. Many glass sets were made in several versions, one with a logo and one without. Sometimes on different glass blanks. (Opposite of WL)

NURSERY RHYME -Numerous series of glasses with Nursery Rhymes and scenes on them, often jelly jars.

NUTELLA - Hazelnut & chocolate spread, popular in Europe, the jar can have characters.

PEDESTAL - A glass on a small foot, but not a Goblet.

RB or ROUND BTM - Rounded bottom glass.

SAMP - Small amount of missing paint.

SINGLE CHARACTER - One character in a static pose on the glass. Similar to STILL. Opposite from ACTION.

SF - Slight Fade.

SLG - Slight Loss of Gloss.

SLGB - Slight Loss of Gloss in Black color.

SMOKE GLASS - Dark color glass, not opaque but hard to see through. Often in sports glasses.

SONG SERIES - Food product containers with songs on the back of the glass, in various series, including States, popular songs, Universities, also mugs and juice glasses.

SOR - Slightly out of Register. Same as SRP.

SRP - Slight Registration problems. Same as SOR.

SS - Small scratch.

STILL - One character in a static pose on the glass. Similar to SINGLE CHARACTER.

TRAY - Metal or Wooden drink carrier that goes with a set of glasses.

V - Very as in VSRP. (Very Slight Reg. Problems)

VARIATIONS - Many sets or single glasses have various differences that can be found, some major and some minor. The Warner Brothers are a good example. These minor differences can mean a great deal on the price and scarceness of a glass. Variations can also mean a complete set is a huge undertaking. For example the Flintstones Welch's glasses have different embossing and different colors for each glass, so a complete set runs into hundreds and hundreds of glasses.

WL - With Logo. (Opposite of NL)

Common Questions

How many glasses in the Warner Brothers set from the 70's?

There were two main sets made from the Warner Brothers characters in the 70's, the Interaction set, which has 24 different glasses, and what is known as the Warner Brothers 1973 set, which has 18 or more (up to 110+) glasses in the set. Both had Pepsi logos. These glasses were originally made for the Carrolls' fast food chain in the east coast, and then other restaurants across the US used the glasses in promotions. Characters were added and different glass blanks were used throughout the length of the promotion.

How many different Characters were in the same set?

Eighteen. Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, Sylvester, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, and Road Runner are the first and primary group of six. Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Wile Coyote, Elmer Fudd, Speedy Gonzalez and Cool Cat are the second group of six. Petunia Pig, Pepe Le Pew, Beaky Buzzard, Tasmanian Devil, Henery Hawk and Slow Poke Rodriques comprise the third group of six glasses. These characters were placed on several different type of glass blanks, and with two different letter colors, black and white, and with two different placements of the Pepsi logo, on the side of the glass (LOS) and at the bottom of the glass, underneath the character (LUN for logo under name). The glass blanks were tall 16oz Brockway glasses, tall 16oz Federal glasses, medium size 14oz Federal glasses, small 12 oz Brockway glasses and small 12 oz Federal glasses. The Brockway glasses are thick, tapered, without a discernible rim. The Federal glasses are thinner, and straight up and down, with a noticeable beaded safedge rim. The small 12 oz Brockway LOS black letter glasses and some of the medium 14 oz Federal LUN black letter glasses are considered to be the hardest to find. In many areas, especially the East Coast, the third group of glasses, with Slow Poke, Henery Hawk and Tasmanian Devil, is harder to find. Millions and millions of the Warner Brothers glasses were made, and many collectors have or are getting started collecting with this great set. Collecting the entire set of all variations is one of the ultimate challenges! In 2007 some very rare short Warner Brothers glasses with Pepsi logos have surfaced with other characters, like Slow Poke Rodriques. These may be samples or prototypes.

The combinations are as follows:

What are Mystery Glasses?

Mystery Glasses are those glasses that people have claimed to exist and/or should exist, like the missing 4 Warner Brothers in the Federal 16oz LOS white letter set. Another glass much speculated upon is the fabled Dick Tracy Sunday Funnies glass. No one has produced the glass or a picture, but everyone would love to be the first to find one! Mystery Glasses are also glasses and sets that are yet to be identified as to the sponsor, date or number in the set of glasses.

What are prototypes, samples, etc?

In order to sell the glass series to the advertising people the glass promotions people would make up small batches of 6 or a dozen glasses, with the example designs on the glasses. Some were never produced, others saw distribution but the final glasses were greatly (or not so greatly) modified. In any event, these are glasses that were not produced for distribution and their limited numbers make them rare and desirable glasses for collectors today.

What is the most expensive glass, the rarest, the best, etc.?

Far and away the most expensive glasses are very early pre-WWII Kentucky Derby tumblers, often made of Bakelite, aluminum and then glass. Following those in price are prototypes and sample glasses, early rare Disney glasses, and scarce Pepsi glasses. The best glass is the one waiting for you to find if you just try hard enough!

Summary

Collecting glasses is a great hobby, and with a little searching great bargains and new finds can still be achieved. Please contact the references noted above directly or if you have more questions contact me, Brian Callahan, PGCA member, at bricall@att.net
 

THANKS!

Copyright 2007 Brian Callahan
Information adapted from Collector Glass News site.