Fenton Art Glass
Company Cactus pattern was inspired by the Indiana Tumbler & Goblet
Company (Greentown) pattern
No. 375 which was produced in 1901-1903 in Greentown, Indiana. This
Greentown pattern has been called both "Cactus" and "Panelled Agave," with
"Cactus" being the name preferred by collectors since the 1930s when J. Stanley
Brothers coined the name "Cactus" when he was writing for HOBBIES magazine.
Most of the original Greentown Cactus pieces were made in Chocolate
Glass but the four colors included Canary, Chocolate, Clear Opalescent, and
The Fenton Art Glass Company
introduced Cactus in January 1959 in the Milk Glass and Topaz Opalescent
colors. Topaz Opalescent did not sell as well as the Milk Glass. Fenton
discontinued production of most of the Topaz Opalescent items at the end
of 1960, but continued producing the Milk Glass pieces by the end of 1960
with a few exceptions. All of the items in Milk Glass were discontinued by
the end of 1962, except for the 3450-MI Bud Vase which remained in the line
through 1964. These early items are not marked, as Fenton did not start
using the Fenton logo until 1972. All of the Fenton Cactus pieces were produced
from new moulds made by Fenton mouldmakers. In 1959, Cactus became one
of the first patterns in which Fenton used their new denser and more opaque
white color of Milk Glass.
The 3445 10 oz. Goblet was
also made in Colonial Amber, Colonial Blue, and Colonial Pink in 1962. The
Fenton Cactus pattern is also documented in the book
Glass: The Third Twenty Five Years" by William Heacock and edited by
James Measell, current Historian for the Fenton Art Glass Company in West
Virginia. According to James Measel, "quite a few of the Fenton Cactus pieces
were created by making different items from the same mould."
Fenton also produced and
distributed certain pieces from their Cactus moulds as the "Desert Tree"
pattern in their "Olde Virginia" line which was a completely separate glass
line that was produced by Fenton and sold to wholesale houses and organizations
which sold through catalogues.
The Desert Tree pattern is
documented in the Olde Virginia Glass section of the book "Fenton Art Glass
Colors and Hand-Painted Decorations 1938-1980."
In 1980, Levay Distributing
Company, owned and managed by Gary
& Dodie Levi, marketed 400 limited edition Aqua Opalescent Carnival
7-piece Pitcher Sets which were made by Fenton and included a large pitcher
and six 10 oz. goblets. In 1982, the Cactus pattern reappeared in the Red
Sunset Carnival and Chocolate colors. The 3480 Cracker Jar was made
in Chocolate as part of an assortment that Fenton produced for Levay.
A Topaz Opalescent Cactus
Water Set was offered as part of the limited edition
Collector's Extravaganza series for 1988. The set was comprised of six 3445-TO
10 oz. Goblets and a large 3407-TO Water Pitcher which varied from 10.50"
to 15" in height. All of the 1988 items have the Fenton oval logo in
the center of their bases.
The 3488 Candy Box (which
is the same item as the 3408 Covered Sugar Bowl) was reintroduced in the
line in 1995 and was still being made as late as 1997 in Fenton's popular
Dusty Rose color. The candy box was also made in Spruce Green for the
1995 Holiday Season as a special edition.
Fenton made the 3429-PQ Champagne
Satin Comport in 1997 which is one of the later pieces which was never produced
in Topaz Opalescent.
The most recent Fenton Cactus
item made was the Ice Blue Iridescent 9" Basket in 2000, and at least one
of these baskets with the twisted rope handle was produced in the Willow
Green Opalescent color. Fenton Cactus in Topaz Opalescent is one of
the most collectible patterns among Vaseline Glass
Special Thanks for Editing, Photos,
& Research to:
Alice Venables, Bing Hilton,
Dave Peterson, Jack Skaw, James Measell, Jim R. Benfer Jr., Lynn Link, Sharron
Reynolds, Squeaker Bootsma, and Denny & Marilyn Tuttle.