Famous COBALT BLUE
There are many famous types of blue-colored glass which are in fact cobalt blue glass. Bristol Blue is one of the most well-known. Fenton's blue carnival glass is a cobalt blue. So is Fenton's Royal Blue and Periwinkle Blue (both from the 1930's), their Blue Silvertone in the Sheffield pattern and Velva Blue from 1981. The Cambridge Glass Company used cobalt for their Royal Blue and their Moonlight Blue. Heisey Glass called their cobalt blue "Steigel Blue"; and Fostoria produced two cobalt blues which Heisey Glass & Fostoria Glass named "Regal Blue" and "Azure Blue".
Why COBALT BLUE is so Special
My eye is always drawn to items made of cobalt blue glass. When I'm shopping for antiques, this eye-catching blue, in colors ranging from navy blue to cornflower blue reminds me of an old issue of Country Living Magazine which featured a stunning grouping of cobalt blue glass pieces backlit by a sun-filled window.
I am constantly amazed at how many different variations a collector can accumulate in cobalt blue. This includes entire sets of depression glass dishes.
The Creation of COBALT BLUE
Most blue glass obtains its color either from cobalt oxide or from copper oxide added to the molten glass. Copper is a more delicate colorant than cobalt. It only requires a tiny amount of cobalt oxide to produce a deep rich blue.
Depression Era Glass in COBALT BLUE
The Hazel Atlas Company produced their Shirley Temple mugs and tableware in cobalt blue with a white decal likeness of the child actress, beginning in the early 1930's, and continuing into the 1950's. These, like several other cobalt blue patterns in depression glass, have been reproduced in recent years.
There is a story that the Hazel Atlas Company had a large vat of cobalt blue glass left from making a planned quantity of Shirley Temple items, and decided to use it up by producing some of their other lines in cobalt blue. This is how the Moderntone pattern and Royal Lace pattern came to be produced in Deep Blue.
A depression era glass product made by Hazel Atlas is the “Ships” or “Sportsman's Series” line of blue glassware. These bright blue pieces are decorated with white decals on pitchers, ice tubs, cocktail tumblers, plates and more.
Moderntone offered cobalt blue collectors an easy alternative for many years, but now it's more difficult to find. The uncomplicated bands decorating the outside edges of this cobalt blue glass pattern give those who prefer elegant simplicity with a slight art deco flair an tantalizing pattern to search out.
Royal Lace lives up to its name with an ultra frilly pattern and a royal price tag, especially when it comes to cobalt blue pieces. Although a collector can probably start and complete a set of these cobalt blue dishes with the supply currently available on the market, they'll spend years searching for the best pieces and thousands of dollars in the pursuit.
The popularity of these lines encouraged many other Depression era glass makers to produce cobalt blue glass.
For hundreds of years, the rich and the privileged have collected Cobalt Blue glass. In the 20th century, cobalt blue continues to be an important fashion color. Many collectors of cobalt blue glass collect Pilgrim Glass. Each piece of cobalt blue Pilgrim Glass is mouth-blown and cased in crystal glass by the artisans of the Pilgrim Glass Company. Usually, Pilgrim can be identified by its distinctive colors, shapes and finished pontil. The Pilgrim Glass Outlet in Centralia, Washington maintains a showcase of examples of old Pilgrim. The authenticity of these pieces have been verified with old catalogues. Pilgrim Glass is highly desirable for its quality and design even though collectors are seldom able to identify Pilgrim as the manufacturer.
The Colors of COBALT BLUE
While cobalt oxide produces a deep royal blue, there are other compounds of cobalt which produce different colors in the cobalt blue family. Cobalt aluminate makes turquoise glass; cobalt silicate produces violet-blue glass. Cobalt oxide added to borosilicate glass produces a purple or red glass like ruby glass or cranberry glass.
The Mining of COBALT BLUE
Cobalt is a metal, found in copper and nickel ores in many countries, but mined mainly in Canada, Africa, Russia, Australia and in smaller quantities in other countries. The isolation of the cobalt blue color of smalt was discovered by Georg Brandt, an eighteenth century Swedish chemist, although the bluing properties of this ore has been documented since very ancient times. Tut-Ankh-Amen's tomb in Egypt even displayed a piece of cobalt blue glass. The cobalt blue color was not commercially manufactured until late in the 1800's.
Before the 1920's the world's production of cobalt was primarily used as a glass and ceramic colorant. Since then, cobalt has been used increasingly in metal alloys, and over 80% of today's production of cobalt is used as a metal, - it is, for example, a component of the best magnets. Surprisingly, cobalt makes up 4.3% of vitamin B12.
The Formula of COBALT BLUE
With the approximately formula of one once per ton of glass, cobalt is used to neutralize the yellow tint of iron in glass such as window glass. To produce a blue color in glass, one only needs to add five ounces of cobalt to a ton of glass. Deeper blues are obtained by adding up to ten pounds of cobalt oxide to a ton of glass. This deep blue glass can then be ground up into a powder known as smalt which is used as a coloring agent for enamel, for glazes on pottery, and for making blue glass and blue crystal.
Collecting COBALT BLUE Crystal & Glass
When anything's really popular like cobalt blue, you have got to be aware of the many reproductions available. This is particularly true with Shirley Temple items. Authentic Shirley Temple pieces, from the depression-era, can still be found for around a $100 a piece. If you're shopping for Shirley Temple items today, be on the lookout out for reproductions. The quality of the cobalt blue glass today is inferior to the originals, and the applied white decals are normally too bright and new looking to be old.
Cobalt blue is one of the most popular colors in glass. Frank M. Fenton once noted that he had observed that blue glass items were more desirable by customers, sold quicker and for a better price than any other color.
Cobalt blue kitchenware has long been popular with collectors, as well as cobalt blue glass and crystal stemware and bar ware. Today, it is more difficult to locate dishes, tableware, canister storage sets, and mixing and serving bowls in cobalt blue at an affordable price, as the market price on these once-common items has risen sharply.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Visit Abe Silverman's Antique Silver Shop today to see the ever-changing estate cobalt blue glass, cobalt blue crystal and other cobalt blue theme items he has located for you to purchase and to add to your cobalt blue collection!