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A guide to Chance glassware
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Collecting Fiestaware

What's the best and what's the rest?

Collecting Hints & Tips

Fiestaware

Although quite thin, Chance glass is tough but susceptible like any other glass to chips and scratching, so only pristine glass is really worth collecting, apart from the real rarities. Much of the Fiestaware range also has gilt edging that is particularly prone to rubbing and wear, while the transfer itself can suffer from scratching and wear marks. So although finding this glass in immaculate condition is not too common, some can still be obtained in the original box and with the stickers still intact, signifying the item was probably just used for display purposes.

Of the commonly-known patterns, Swirl is desirable and popular as a true 1960s retro pattern, it is also fairly common so only the more unuusal shapes will command a better price. Calypto is also regularly listed on eBay.

The most sought-after (commonly-known) Fiestaware is probably 'Night Sky' although other patterns should never be disregarded: Greco, particularly Blue, is extremely elegant and the coloured Lace patterns are often very hard to find. 

So... what do you call a Carafe?
Of all the types of glass, there is no doubt the aptly named 'Giraffe' Carafe is very popular and always in demand. Printed in just four designs (known to date), there appear to be two different shapes; one tapers straight down to the base in a cone shape, the other (far rarer) version tapers out before angling back to the base, giving it a slight belly.

Right: a rare 'Giraffe' Carafe with the vine leaf pattern derived from Hellenic. Photo courtesy SHCT

Interesting facts

(Lady) Margaret Casson (Night Sky & Green Leaves) was married to Sir Hugh Casson and also created ‘Cannes’ and ‘Riviera’ designs for Midwinter pottery.

Michael Harris worked at Chance in a freelance capacity during the summer of 1959, producing many designs although it is unknown how many were actually used (Calypto & Anemone are known as commissioned work). In 1962 he took a tutoring post with the RCA until 1968, before leaving to form Mdina glass (Malta, 1968-72), then Isle of Wight Glass (1972-94). See GlassyEye.com for more.
- thanks to Mark Hill

Geoffrey Baxter, later of Whitefriars fame, designed many 'intaglio' dishes in 1953 for his degree show at the Royal College of Art and used ruby- and blue-flashed blanks manufactured by Chance.

Chance made complete lighthouse assemblies and had a whole division of the company devoted to lighthouses and optical glass. Other famous buildings that featured Chance glass are:

  • Big Ben (clock faces)
  • Houses of Parliament
  • Crystal Palace (1851)
  • White House (USA)

During the 19th Century, Chance was also well-known for their exquisite stained glass windows that featured in many prominent buildings.

For more on the technological side of glass, datasheets can be downloaded from Pilkington's site.

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