I remember the first time I heard the term “milk glass.” My dear sister-in-law, Cathy, was packing up her house to move to the Outer Banks. She showed me a vase and explained it was hobnail milk glass. I recall thinking “what a cool name” and I think I even had her spell it since I had never heard “hobnail”, but it wasn’t love at first sight for me. Of course, I said something like, “hmmm, that’s interesting” but I didn’t quite understand why anyone would collect a knobby white vase. Like many twists in life, I never imagined I’d be building a collection of milk glass today for my business, Southern Vintage Table!
Since then I’ve educated myself a bit on this classic vintage glassware. I’ve learned that milk glass has been around since the 1500s but the term “milk glass” wasn’t coined until the twentieth century. Although “milk glass” was popularized by the white milk-like color, the word “milk” doesn’t necessarily mean white; it means the glass isn’t transparent, but translucent. Here’s a little bit of chemistry trivia – they use either tin oxide or bone ash (yep, ashes of real bones) to give the glass that milky white color!
“Opal glass.” as it was called, comes in white, brown and black as well as in hues of green, yellow, pink and blue. It was invented in Venice in the 16th century, spread to France and England and then to America. First considered collectables by the wealthy, many American companies began making less expensive milk glassware for the masses. One highly, collectable and popular variety is Jadeite, which has a beautiful light green color. Our collection is only white but I’m always on the lookout for the other colors.
Probably all of us have seen the many styles of milk glass vases. I’ve collected small bud to large bouquet vases, with wonderful designs and textures. Here are some from our collection!
I love the vintage compotes and serving dishes in the milky white color. Food just looks extra delicious against the pure white of the dish!
Vintage milk glass goblets and small compotes are also lovely and can be used as either vases, planters or small serving dishes!
The purity of white vintage milk glass is a classic choice for so many special gatherings such as weddings, receptions, showers, anniversaries and dinner parties. Invite Southern Vintage Table to help you set the table with this charming vintage accessory! More of our collection can be seen on our Pinterest Board.
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