Got Milkglass? Or Platonite?

Hazel Atlas Platonite milk pitcher

In the “life-long learning” category, I recently learned about Platonite…a patented glass making process from Hazel Atlas Glass. Hazel Atlas was the first glass company in the United States to produce colored transparent dinnerware for “the common housewife” and everyday use. We call it “Depression Glass” nowadays. Platonite was patented in 1936 as a stronger more reliable process was developed, although it had been used as early as the 1920s.

Platonite is a semi-opaque white glass (which some incorrectly refer to as milkglass). Hazel Atlas again striving to set themselves apart from the crowd, formulated and produced a semi-opaque white glass reminiscent of the Victorian period milkglass produced some 50 years earlier by various glass houses. Hazel Atlas applied for and received in 1936 a US Patent for this glass known as Platonite, being the first and only company ever to receive a patent for a color of glass.

History of Hazel Atlas Glass Company (1880-1956). Retrieved from hazelatlasglass.com/history.html

Platonite was more translucent than milkglass, and it could have colors fired on. It led to a popular competitor to Homer Loughlin’s Fiesta ware, and also came in a variety of bright colors.

This is the flat rim milk pitcher in Ribbon pattern, which came as part of the line of “breakfast sets.” Some designs had a narrow red line around the rim, some added a narrow black line at the base, and others added a floral stencil on the lip side. This pitcher belonged to my maternal grandmother and was among the items that ended up in Mother’s house when Mama could no longer manage in the home with my parents and needed long term care.

Researching this pitcher led to the discovery that the set of ‘milkglass’ grape goblets I have from Mama’s china cupboard are also likely Platonite rather than milkglass.

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13 Responses to Got Milkglass? Or Platonite?

  1. I did not know the difference. Somehow I never had either and can’t remember my mother having any.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Suzassippi says:

      I never knew the difference either, and apparently, most of us do not or did not. It underscored the importance of being sure what something is before you buy it, unless you just love it and are willing to pay for it anyway even if it is not as described. Kind of reminded me of when my friend told me my tree was a redbud, which I dutifully repeated, only to find out 17 years later it was a box elder maple. 🙂

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  2. socialbridge says:

    Very interesting, Suz.
    For a minute, I was thinking ‘depression’ as opposed to The Depression!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Betty says:

    I’ve never heard of Platonite. My mom and my uncle had several pieces of what I would call “white glassware.” Who knows what it was? I like the advice to only buy something if you really like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beth says:

    It is beautiful -I love the mystique of the translucent glass! Is it marked as Platonite and/or Hazel Atlas Glass?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Suzassippi says:

      It is not marked either Platonite or HA. Nothing was marked Platonite that I can locate; knowing the difference apparently depends on the seller. It does not have the HA marking that I can see, but apparently, they did at times produce unmarked items. I wonder if it was when an item was to be sold as a ‘second’ or imperfect? I found a number of historic newspaper ads that referenced selling seconds or imperfects of name brand well-known manufacturers at greatly reduced prices.

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      • Beth says:

        That’s quite possible that the mark was added last and if the item wasn’t perfect it wasn’t marked. I recently learned that the Old Country Roses marks their seconds by putting a tiny scratch through the name on the mark.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Suzassippi says:

          Some companies used paper labels, but Hazel Atlas and Fenton marked theirs on the mold. However, I located an item that explained they also made patterns/shapes without a name to test it out, and some of those did not have marks. It actually looks to me like the mark was worn off, or filed off, but I guess you never know for sure on some of them.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I once bought a beautiful milk glass or Platonite door knob that would be perfect for my bathroom. However, I soon discovered that it used a nonstandard threading. So I had to find the correct spindle to fit the knob, and then I had to spend a long time finding a knob for the other side of the door that was for this nonstandard threading. As this got deeper, I also learned that once upon a time there were conversion spindles available, letting you use 1 threading on 1 side of the door and a different threading on the different side of the door. However, these spindles have disappeared from the market. Anyway, the milk glass knob is in place and looks very nice.

    Liked by 1 person

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