Our antiques expert assesses a carnival glass sweetmeat compote to help determine what it's worth today.
My mother always called this a honey dish, and I remember not being allowed to touch it as a child! About 9 inches tall, it’s marked with an “N” in a circle. What more can you tell me?
—J.M., Jones, Alabama
A: “Rather rare” is a phrase that appraisers seldom use, but it aptly describes your carnival glass sweetmeat compote. This was a special dish for serving dainty, expensive morsels that were often sweetened with honey or coated with sugar crystals.
But carnival glass, made in a rainbow of colors and called “poor man’s Tiffany” because it was inexpensive, was generally ornamental first and utilitarian second. A pressed glass with fired-on iridescent coating, it was enormously popular from 1900 to 1920. It lost favor by the 1950s, and overstocks were sold to traveling carnivals for prizes—hence, the name. Beginning in 1962, reproductions and reissues sparked a second wave of carnival glass popularity, which peaked in 1970.
The mark indicates the Harry Northwood Glass Company made your compote. The son of a leading English glass artisan, Northwood began working in glass in 1880, and using this mark in 1906. Collectors especially covet his marked pieces, and believe this compote was made only in one size.
Both its bowl and lid feature Northwood’s famous Grape and Cable pattern, while the bowl’s interior and hexagonal base, as well as the lid’s pagoda-style finial, are smooth. Note how the flange of the bowl’s scalloped rim adds extra flair. Your mother was wise in taking special care—in mint condition, this compote is worth at least $1,400.
—Barbara J. Eash (Country Woman Magazine’s Antiques Expert)