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Milk glass, so named for its milky opacity, has a heritage that dates back
centuries. Antique milk glass is celebrated by collectors, but its acclaim
continues to grow today with modern producers still creating styles in the
Though the name of milk glass is relatively recent, the technique dates
to the 1500s and its discovery by ingenious Venetian glassmakers. They
deduced that the addition of opacifier chemicals such as bone ash could,
when added to a molten glass mixture, render the finished glass brilliantly
The somewhat opalescent effect in some milk glass resulted in the
technique being known as opal glass, and it was this luminous effect that
catapulted milk glass into celebrity. By the end of the 19th century, milk
glass pieces were incredibly popular, with new companies entering the milk
glass market from Fenton and Fostoria to Kanawha and Westmoreland.
Milk glass is featured in the faces of the iconic clocks at New
York's Grand Central Station and once made up the marquee of the Chicago
While white is the most well-known color, milk glass comes in a range
of hues from blue and pink to brown and black
Some makers, like Westmoreland, marked their pieces with a W through
the early 20th century. Others, such as Imperial and Fenton, only began
adding marks to their milk glass more recently to help collectors distinguish
between antique and contemporary production