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Pleasing color and the intensity of application is a matter of personal choice.
If bright, evenly applied iridescent surface spray, without evidence of wear
or rubbing is your preference, you can expect to pay more to get that.
Key colors, relative to early Carnival Glass.  

Red and Brick Red
Honey Amber
Celeste Blue
Amethyst Opalescent
Ice Blue
Aqua Opalescent
Clear Base Glass
Ice Green
Ice Green Opalescent
Amber Opalescent
Lime Green
Lime Green Opal
Blue and Cobalt Blue
Emerald Green
Cobalt Blue Opal
Black Amethyst
Helios Green
Marigold Flash Over Milk Glass
Powder Blue
Olive Green
Red Opalescent
Red Slag
Pastel Marigold
Reverse Amberina
Vaseline Opalescent
Peach Opalescent
True Cherry Red
Pearlized Milk Glass
Renningerís Blue
White (often frosty)
Persian Blue (opaque)
Irid. Ruby Flashing
Yellow (not marigold)
Sapphire Blue
Yellow Opal (Fenton)

The colors here and in carnival glass guides and other reference materials, are referring to the BASE GLASS color.  

To determine the base glass color, hold the carnival item up to a strong light source.  Natural sunlight works the best.  This should make the carnival finish "disappear" and reveal the base glass color.  It is not always as easy as it sounds.  Some pieces are heavily coated with the carnival glass finish and it is very hard to see through to the base glass color.  It that case, try to look thru the side of the collar base instead of the direct center of the bowl or other carnival item.  If that still does not reveal the base color to your satisfaction, bring it to a carnival club meeting. More than likely, someone there will be able to determine the base glass color for you.

The most available base glass colors are Marigold (reddish yellow or orange flashing on clear glass), Amethyst, Blue and Green with Marigold being the most abundant.  I can't resist a bit of trivia here.  Can you guess why marigold was the most popular color during the "Heyday" of carnival?  I'll let you think about that for a minute.  If you want to check your answer,  CLICK HERE.  

Because of the abundant quantities made, you can find some real bargains in marigold.  There are often very beautiful pieces in marigold very reasonably priced.  You can expect to pay more for the same pattern in amethyst, blue or green.

More  Notes on Color  

Dugan made the most Peach Opal and you can find beautiful examples at relatively inexpensive prices.  Peach opal by other early makers is considered rare.
Fenton made the most blue and you can still find some very nice examples priced for 100.00 dollars or less.  Northwood, Dugan and Millersburg made limited quantites of blue, with some pattern examples being quite scarce or rare.  You can expect to pay more for it so choose your pieces wisely.  You want the ones with bright, even carnival colors.  Imperial made very little blue in the old carnival.  Old unmarked Imperial with a darker blue base glass color is very rare.
Fenton, Northwood, Imperial and Millersburg made large amounts of green.  Dugan did not make much green carnival.  Dugan did produce a major quantity of beautiful green non-iridized glass.  In some cases, those patterns were later used for making carnival glass.
Most of the amber found was made by Imperial.  They made more amber base glass than the other manufacturers.  Smoke (gray base glass) and Helios Green are Imperial colors.  Northwood and Fenton experimented with the smoke color and made a few pieces but  they never managed to recreate the beauty of Imperial Smoke.  Also, Imperial made the most purple.  We refer to true deep purple, not to be confused with amethyst, which is lighter in color.
Westmoreland and Fenton opals are difficult to locate.  Ice colors (sometimes called pastels) made by both Fenton and Northwood are considered scarce in some patterns.  It is thought that the ice colors were made for overseas markets as so much of it has surfaced in Australia, the United Kingdom and other European countries.

A Word About Red

The rarest of all base glass colors in old carnival is true red.  Both Fenton and Imperial made red carnival in very limited quantities.  Of the two, Fenton made the most red.  Northwood, Dugan and Millersburg made NO red.  Because red is so very scarce there is a tendency by both collectors and dealers to confuse true red.  Everyone wants at least one red piece in their collection and in their quest to find one they can often confuse the red issue.  Please keep in mind that red is a primary color and can not be created by combining other primary colors.  Amethyst can appear "reddish" at times, sometime refered to as "fiery amethyst", but it is not red carnival.  True red carnival is a bright cherry red when held to the light, not orange or amber or amethyst.  There may be a touch of amber or yellow at the edge or the base but the rest of the shape will be a bright cherry red.

Some Examples of  Red Carnival Glass
Dragon & Lotus - Fenton - Red
Note the yellow on the edge points
Note the yellow or amber on the base
Sailboats - Fenton - Red
Cherry Red with some yellow on points
Cherry red base

The correct term for "yellow points" is Amberina.

Reverse Amberina refers to the glass condition when red is more or less
centered in the middle area of the piece, with the amberina sometimes quite
wide from edge toward center of piece.

There were no red carnival watersets made in the old carnival.  NONE, ZIP, ZILCH, a big ZERO.  No early maker made a red carnival waterset.  You may see red carnival watersets and they are very beautiful BUT, they are 1960's or newer.

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 The average American household in the early 1900's was a fairly dark, gloomy place.  It consisted of dark wood work, heavy, dark furniture, practical carpets of rich, dark colors and thick, dark draperies.  The rich, glowing marigold helped tremendously to lighten and brighten the gloom.