In 1902 the Atlas Company and the Hazel Company merged into what would become the largest glass company in the world. The Washington, Pennsylvania business produced both utilitarian glass, like fruit jars and commercial food storage containers, and household wares collectors now reference as Depression glass.
“Fierce competition in the fruit jar industry and a desire to expand business, led the company to seek out other lines of production.
This expansion had its beginnings in the early 1920's when Hazel Atlas would first produce, something that up until that time had primarily been relegated to the pottery and porcelain industry, a dinnerware line for the average homemaker,” according to the Hazel Atlas Glass Collectors website.
These dishes, meant for everyday use, could be purchased very inexpensively. The first pattern made by Hazel Atlas in 1923 was a plain pattern of glass known as Ovide. It came only in transparent green then, and was used to test the market before other dinnerware lines were developed (including the Ovide line in other colors during the 1930s).
While not overwhelmingly successful, the green glass was noticed by other glassware manufacturers who added lovely patterns to similar glass and developed an array of other colors as the 1920s progressed. Hazel Atlas followed suit by adding many different patterns and expanding color options.
They found great success marketing their affordable glass through the lean Depression years.
In fact, “Hazel Atlas was so successful in their production, that they were the only Glass Company and one of the few publicly traded companies in the U.S.A. to pay a stock dividend during all the depression years,” stated HazelAtlasGlass.com.
Other products made by Hazel Atlas were kitchen glassware, children’s dishes, and glass serving pieces, and they all came in an array of styles and colors over the decades they were made. The company was acquired by Continental Can Company in 1956, and some lines were continued under the new ownership. New lines were sold under the brand Hazelware through 1963.
The Unique Colors of Hazel Atlas Glass
In addition to the original green color used to test the company’s first pattern, Ovide, a number of others were developed including several that were unique. Other colors included Sunset Pink, Ritz Blue, yellow, amber, black, amethyst (originally called Burgundy by Hazel Atlas) and white named Platonite.
One of the unique colors was Ritz Blue (as shown in the photo above), which is somewhat lighter in color when compared to cobalt blue glass made by other companies of the day (but it is still referenced as cobalt blue by today’s collectors). The company’s Sunset Pink glass has a more consistent hue when compared to that made by other Depression-era glass firms.
The beauty of these colors has led Royal Lace, which was produced in complete sets in both Ritz Blue and Sunset Pink, to be one of the most popular Depression glass patterns sought by collectors.
The Sunset Pink color formula was very consistent, so there were no faded pink or orange-tinged variations like those sometimes found in pink glass made by Jeanette Glass or Hocking Glass.
Most of these glass colors were made for only a limited time during the 1930s. The constants for Hazel Atlas were clear glass, green glass, and their patented white Platonite glass which was first seen in kitchenware and later in dinnerware patterns.
Popular Hazel Atlas Depression Glass Patterns
While Hazel Atlas produced many different patterns of Depression glass, the colors varied from pattern to pattern and most were made for only a few years during the 1930s. The number of pieces available in each pattern varied widely as well. For instance, the fancy Royal Lace pattern offered a full set of dinnerware including serving pieces, while Aurora has only seven known pieces in the pattern.
Some of the most popular patterns collectors seek today include Aurora, Cloverleaf, Colonial Block, Florentine I, Florentine II, Moderntone, New Century, Newport, Ovide, Royal Lace, and Ships (also known as “Sailboat” or “Sportsman Series”).
It’s also interesting to note that the popular Moderntone pattern originated in boxed “Little Deb” lemonade sets marketed in the early 1930s. These children’s dish sets included four small Moderntone glasses with a creamer in the Colonial Block pattern. Moderntone was also made in dinnerware with both pastel and vivid colors fired on to white Platonite glass in the late 1930s and ‘40s, and most collectors refer to these pieces simply as Platonite (although that term technically references the color of the white base glass). These dishes were marketed as “Carnivalware,” according to Colored Glassware of the Depression Era 2 by Hazel Marie Weatherman.
Hazel Atlas also made Ritz Blue breakfast sets decorated with Shirley Temple’s likeness beginning in the mid-1930s, which were offered as premiums with baking mix and packaged cereal. The milk pitcher to the set is similar in shape to the Aurora pattern creamer.
A good reference for complete pattern listings, although now out of print, is Collector’s Encyclopedia of Depression Glass Sixteenth Edition (Collector Books) by Gene and Cathy Florence.
How Hazel Atlas Glass is Marked
Most Hazel Atlas dinnerware is not marked. You will, however, find the H A mark (actually a large H with a small A tucked below) on a number of kitchenware pieces.
The Hazel Atlas mark is sometimes confused with Anchor Hocking Glass Co. The Anchor Hocking mark, however, is actually an "H" superimposed over an anchor symbol.