Fenton Art Glass was an American glass producer – active from 1905-2011. They are best known for their late 20th century handpainted glasswares, but also produced art glass in a variety of colors and with distinctive and unique additives. Fenton cats can be identified by an oval Fenton label, or a very small Fenton logo, usually on the back of the cat. There may be a number under the logo, indicating the decade in which it was made. The logo was not added to pieces until 1973. Handpainted items are signed by the artist, either on the bottom or the back of the piece.
Fenton is best known for its handpainted wares and its Burmese art glass – a two tone satin glass, most commonly shaded from pink to yellow. In addition to the artist, some pieces are signed by a member of the Fenton family. In the later years, Fenton manufactured some items for other companies, notably Lenox and QVC.
The main factory was shut down in 2011, but art glass beads are still being produced under the Fenton name. Fenton cats are now being produced from the Fenton moulds by Mosser Glass in Cambridge Ohio. These are then shipped to Fenton, where they are decorated and sold in the Fenton gift shop.
Fenton produced collectible glass cats in a number of different moulds:
Alley Cat (#5177)
The first cat produced by Fenton in 1970. The mold was purchased from the United States Glass Company, who had produced this figurine between 1924-1934 under the name Sassy Susie.
The Alley Cat is a large piece – about 11″ high and weighing in at around 3 lbs. This cat is easily distinguished by its somewhat scruffy appearance, with visible ribs, uneven ears, and a face that has a saucy smile and a wink. The body is hollow. It was produced in a number of colors and can be found plain or handpainted.
Later, Fenton began producing a smaller, more refined variation of the Alley Cat known as the Happy Cat (5277). This smiling cat was produced in a 6” and 4” version.
Arguably the most popular Fenton cat – this is a fluffy sitting cat or kitten looking to its left. Most of these are hand painted in various designs. It is also known as the “Burmese Cat“, and is solid and substantial figurine, 3.75” tall. Pictured below, painted in the “Hearts and Flowers” design.
Golden tulips on autumn gold. This kitty was made in 2005 – it is numbered and signed by both the artist and Chris Fenton.
And Spring Splendor on pink chiffon glass.
This figurine is also the one used for the birthday cats – a white iridized opalescent cat wearing a birthstone-colored rhinestone collar.
This Fenton cat is in a type of glass called “Favrene” – a proprietary Fenton formula of cobalt glass mixed with real silver. When heated, the silver comes to the surface, making this amazing blue color, which is then iridized.
Stylized Cat (#5065)
Another very popular collectible, the Fenton Stylized Cat is a Siamese or oriental shorthair type cat. This elegant figurine stands about 5″ tall and is available hand painted or plain, in many colors and varieties of art glass. Shown below in the “Daisy Lane” pattern in French Opalescent glass and a beautiful limited edition “Circle of Love” by Joyce Colella.
Another stylized cat. Some of the paint used on this cat is UV reactive, giving it a subtly spooky appearance under a black light.
Scaredy Cat (#5291)
A cat figurine in the typical “Halloween cat” pose, with an arched back and fur standing up. It stands 4.5″ high. The one below is known as “Midnight, the Crescent Moon” and it was made for sale by Lenox.
More Fenton Cat styles:
Sleeping Cat (#5064) – a curled, sleeping kitten, 3.5″ long. Fenton mark is in the center on the lower back of the piece. Shown below in French Opalescent.
Production of the beautiful lotus mist kitten shown below was limited to 3500 – each numbered and signed by the artist.
Curious Cat (#5243) – also sometimes called the “Snobby Cat” – A 3.5″ tall cat, sitting and leaning forward with is nose in the air.
Crouching Cat (#5119) – One of the smallest Fenton cats, the crouching cat or kitten is a 3″ long cat figurine in a crouched and playful pose. There are two versions of this piece – the original design caused some production issues and the crouching cat was reworked in 1993. From 1985-1993 the tail was rather short, the tail is longer on pieces from 1993-2012. There are also differences in the ears and the angle of he head. This rose milk satin piece, made in 2005 for Fenton’s 100th anniversary, is numbered and nsigned by both the artist and Lynn Fenton.
Original style crouching cat in iridized opal. Note the shorter tail, larger head and different head angle:
Side-by-side comaprison of the two:
This beautiful iridized new-style cat was made for Fenton showcase dealer Singleton Bailey and decorated by Robin Spindler.
Kitten with Ball (#5044 ) – Petite kitten lying down and playing with a ball of yarn. Approx 3″ long. Pictured: Cranberry blossom on amethyst carnival.
Grooming Cat (#5074) – A small sitting cat, grooming a paw. This figurine is 4″ high. Pictured below in autumn gold.
Mini Kitten (#5365), – Just 2.75″ high. First made in 1999, the mini kitten was made in over 70 colors and patterns. Mini kitten in cobalt blue:
Amber mini kitten, painted by independent former Fenton artist Pam Hayhurst.
Perky / Egyptian Cat (#5318) – Cat resting in the “loaf” position
Perched / Leaning Cat (#5039)
Only made in a couple of patterns. This one, “Opal, the Little White Cat”, was made for Lenox.
Cat in a Bag (C1463) – A small cat peeking out of a bag. Made for QVC, 3.5″ high.
Cat Trinket Box – Two piece trinket box. Several colors and patterns, made for QVC.
The beautiful painting on Fenton Glass is a large part of its appeal! There were a number of artists working for Fenton when they were still manufacturing glass – each signed their name on the pieces they painted. For most styles different artists produced the same pattern in large quantities, however there were also limited editions (marked with the item number and the total made) and exquisite one-of-a-kind pieces. A list of their in-house artists can be found on Fenton’s site.
After Fenton closed their factory, Mosser Glass began making items for decoration and sale by Fenton using the Fenton moulds. Most of their former artists are gone, but a couple of their artists have stayed on and are decorating these pieces. Two artists still painting for Fenton are Michelle Kibbe and Kim Barley – both well known for their unique limited editions and one-of-a-kind work.
Master Craftsman Dave Fetty
Trained at Blenko glass, David Fetty joined Fenton Art Glass in 1965 and went on to make many unique limited edition pieces. He is known for his beautiful mould-blown creations, signature creations like his “hanging hearts” items, and unique off-hand (freehand) glassware. Dave worked for Fenton as a glass blower and artist for over 47 years! Even after retiring in 1998, he continued to make unique items for Fenton and was still blowing glass in his 80’s, following a bout of COVID in 2021!
Fenton Glass for Other Companies
Fenton made many items for sale by Lenox and QVC.
They also produced items which were decorated and sold by Rosso Glass. Rosso is best known for their sand-carved decorations.
Fenton has a huge, well established collector community.
- Fenton Fanatics – Databases, catalogs, lots of resources for researching Fenton items
- FAGCA – Fenton Art Glass Collectors of America
- Fenton Art Glass – Fenton’s official site.