During my many years of collecting the Fostoria American line, one question always lurked in the back of my mind – “Is it Fostoria, or is it a Look-Alike?” Now, after over thirty years, I can usually tell the difference. It was a frustrating journey at times. Several pieces were bought at antique shops where they were labeled as Fostoria, when in truth – they were not. On some items, it was years before I knew the truth. I ended up paying premium dollars for items that were not the genuine article.
Some lessons on Fostoria American crystal have been painful to learn, both financially and mentally. No one wants to be taken as a fool, nor do we want to pay more for an item than what it is truly worth. Just this past weekend I saw another example of a Look-Alike piece being labeled as Fostoria American. I went to a respected Glass Show in our area, which is only held once a year. Dealers came from around the nation to attend. It is a quality glass show, and quite spectacular. While most of the items were labeled correctly, I did notice a sparse few that were not … one of which was a set of Tumblers from the Whitehall line. They were simply beautiful – well made, crystal clear and without any flaws. They were sitting amidst other genuine Fostoria American pieces, and to be honest … they “looked” like Fostoria American. No one was the wiser, I am sure.
I honestly don’t think that glass dealers are trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes; I just think they do not know any better. And it is just these type of scenarios that usually play out across the nation. People just don’t know the difference. Some of the Whitehall/American Whitehall pieces were very well made and it can be difficult to tell them apart from an original Fostoria American piece.
Even after buying book after book on Fostoria, I was still left with many questions. I finally decided that if I wanted the answers, then I would need to do my own research. I went on a mission to buy as many pieces as possible … from estate sales, antique shops, Ebay and beyond. It has been a long and arduous process. Some purchases took weeks to unwrap, with mountains of wrapping paper piled high on tables! And then it hit me … where in the world am I going to store all of these treasures?
I could not do the research without the Look-Alike pieces, as they were an important element as well. Some estate lots that I have purchased ended up being a very emotional ride. I learned of how the past owner cherished and cared for them, tales were told of their excitement as they found and acquired their different pieces … and how – sadly – no one in the next generation uses them, or wants them. Some lots were almost given to me simply because the surviving family member knew that I would treasure them, which they viewed as a loving tribute to their loved one. My love for Fostoria American continues to be an amazing journey – with an abundance of surprises and emotions around every corner.
I have been asked many times why I love my Fostoria collection so much. There is no clear cut answer to that question, and I find it nearly impossible to answer. Words like “made by hand” mean something to me, especially in this throw-away world we live in. There is pride in knowing that a human being (not a machine) spent love and labor on a piece of crystal from which you eat or drink. Pride, quality, and “Made in the USA” are values I still hold dear. I think the world would be a better place today if more corporations instilled those core values. Maybe … just maybe … this is one of the reasons why I am endeared by the values and products of Fostoria Glass.
If you would like to learn more about the Fostoria American glassware pattern, please visit my other blog – FostoriaAmerican2056.com. I always enjoy chatting with other vintage glass collectors or enthusiasts.