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Goofus Glass

The collectors' mantra, “just more piece”.

Which would you purchase Goofus Glass or Oriental Art? Originally, Goofus Glass was marketed by the name Oriental Art, Egyptian Art, or Golden Art.

Where did one find Goofus Glass?

After Historic Granville acquired pieces of Goofus Glass, I did a bit of research. I found it interesting that one article dealt with manufactures inability to sell Goofus Glass while another said Goofus Glass was sold by boxes and barrels for a dollar a dozen.

After much reading, I can share that Goofus Glass was purchased by promoters of carnivals, medicine shows, movie houses, and filling stations. When you bought 5 gallons of gas, you might get a bowl. The prize for winning a carnival game would be a piece of Goofus Glass. (Did this make Goofus Glass the first Carnival Glass?) Buy a movie ticket, get a vase! Goofus Glass was given away by every type business. I even read examples of car dealers and furniture stores giving Goofus Glass with a purchase. This went on and on until the supply was exhausted.

What happened to Goofus Glass?

I have nothing to prove this except what I know based on my own experiences. Well, my experiences are not with Goofus Glass but I do have some lovely glasses that served as the container for Big Top peanut butter. (Ssshhh, don’t tell my daughter but they are packed with a note explaining the significance of the glasses.) I think the owners of those lovely Goofus Glass pieces packed them away in a box and put it in the attic to save for their children when they had a home of their own. They may have smiled and said, “Let the kids worry about what to do with this when I’m gone.” (Sound familiar to anyone?) When that day came and the children found them, they looked tarnished and old fashioned. One of the children said, “Who knows, someone might like them.” That child looked at the fading and chipped paint, washed it off, and put the clear Goofus Glass pieces on eBay. And, that my friend is why we can find clear pieces of Goofus Glass with no paint on the raised surfaces for sale on eBay.

Factual Information

Goofus Glass was produced by companies in the United States in large volumes between 1897 and 1920. Indiana Glass in Indiana, PA was the largest and most notable producer. Pieces can be found that were produced by Norwood in Wheeling, WV.

How did it get the name Goofus Glass?

Once considered Shabby Chic, Goofus Glass is pressed glass which has been cold painted, that is the paint has been applied but not fired. The paint tends to chip and come off, unlike enamel painting on glass, which is more permanent. The pieces were basically molded or blown glass. The paint washed off, someone goofed. Or, you were fooled (goofed) by your purchase.

Most of the pieces were clear but a few were pale or light colors, blanks were purchased in bulk and gussied up for resale. Relief embossed poppy or relief embossed rose Goofus Glass was advertised by Butler Brothers. Many of the pieces were clear with flowers, fruits, or shapes that protruded making the raised surface an ideal surface to paint. Goofus Glass was known for bright colors and was very affordable. The most common was red flowers painted on clear glass. The gold and red cabbage rose was often used on plates.

It went out of fashion when Carnival glass became popular about 1910. Carnival Glass was more attractive, more durable, and the finish did not peel off.

Pieces of Goofus Glass may be viewed at the Granville Museum and the historic home, Sutton Homestead in Historic Granville.

Historic Granville sites open Wednesday- Friday 11AM-3PM and Saturday 11AM-5PM.

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