The Fenton Timeline
For more than 100 years, the vision of Fenton family members, together with their passion for glassmaking, sustained the Fenton Art Glass organization. Each person contributed special talents to the team effort of glassmaking. The company made quality glass, by hand, and in keeping with the great heritage of craftsmanship in the American glass industry. To see the Fenton Family Tree, click here.
Frank L. Fenton and his brother John W. Fenton start the Fenton Art Glass Company in rented space in Martins Ferry, Ohio.
The Fenton factory is built in Williamstown, West Virginia. The first piece made on January 2, 1907, is a crystal cream pitcher with a Water Lily and Cattails pattern. Jacob Rosenthal is the factory manager and glass chemist.
Fenton introduces its innovative "iridescent ware," a popular-priced alternative to expensive products from Steuben or Tiffany. Other American glassmakers soon introduce competitive products, and this glassware dominates the marketplace for nearly a decade.
A group of four skilled glassworkers from Europe create dramatic art glass treatments such as Hanging Hearts while employed at Fenton.
In operation for about 25 years, Fenton Art Glass boasts that it now produces more than 25 different glass colors, ranging from traditional transparent hues to unusual opaque colors.
As other glass plants perish during the Depression, Fenton maintains its business by producing bowls for companies making electric mixers and by producing special bottles for firms that make cologne and perfume.
Baskets, Cranberry glass, crested ware, and the Hobnail pattern all debut in the late 1930s.
Unable to obtain glassware from overseas, many American importing companies turn to Fenton to have glassware made especially for their needs.
Fenton introduces its Diamond Lace pattern, designed by company president Frank L. Fenton.
Milk Glass Hobnail becomes Fenton's flagship pattern. Years later, Bill Fenton fondly recalls Hobnail as "our bread and butter" line.
Fenton introduces a range of popular transparent colors—Colonial Amber, Colonial Blue, Colonial Green, and Colonial Pink.
Fenton and Cracker Barrel begin a business relationship.
After years of trials and experiments, Fenton reintroduces Carnival glass. Items are marked with a distinctive logo, the word "Fenton" in script type within an oval.
The first Connoisseur Collection is offered in 1983. Throughout the 1980s, Fenton's Milk Glass, Burmese and Rosalene colors continue to rise in popularity.
George W. Fenton becomes President, and he remains at the helm today. Bill Fenton is named Chairman of the Board, and Frank M. Fenton retires to the position of Historian.
Fenton appears on QVC with Bill Fenton as the first on-air guest. Today, on-air guests include other family members.
Fenton introduces the first items in its "Family Signature Series," starting a tradition that continues in today's product line.
Fenton's Showcase Dealer Program begins with 235 dealers. Today there are more than 1,000 Showcase Dealers nationwide.
The premier issue of Glass Messenger, a quarterly newsletter for Fenton collectors, is published. A Roselle on Cranberry Basket is offered as the first Subscriber Exclusive.
Fenton celebrates the company's 95th anniversary; www.fentonartglass.com is launched.
Fenton publishes its first book, Fenton Glass: Especially for QVC.
In anticipation of its centennial year, Fenton publishes a coffee table book, FENTON: Handcrafted American Glass Artistry.
Fenton turns 100 on May 4, 2005! Fenton Centennial Celebration in Williamstown July 31 – August 2.
Fenton turns 105.
Fenton ceases traditional glassmaking at the Williamstown factory.
Fenton begins producing handcrafted art glass jewelry using many of the classic Fenton colors and glassmaking techniques, including Vasa Murrhina and Carnival. The talented craftspeople at Fenton also create beautiful jewelry with hand applied artistic decorations on the handmade art glass beads. Each hand decorated bead is initialed by the talented bead artist who completed it.