Collecting Depression glass is most fun when one has a chance to acquire pieces so let's look at Adam, well known and rather scarce, and Swirl, which is much less sought after yet attractive and fun.
Adam is not an obscure pattern by any stretch and it is listed near the front of almost every book on Depression glass. Adam has two main pattern motifs, a paisley-like swirl design in the center of many pieces and smaller groupings of flowers that are on the rims or tops.
The other thing to remember about Adam is that the pieces are usually squareish shaped. Even vases have square rims! The square shapes add a touch of style, but do be aware that whenever pieces have sharply defined rims that they tend to get small nicks on the inside part of the rim. This is called inner rim roughness and it is easy to miss finding this type of damage unless you know to look for it. For example, the bowls, candy, sugar and vase all have square collar-like rims that go around the tops that are easily chipped. If you buy online or mail order be sure to ask the seller to recheck. Stores that don't sell a lot of Depression glass often do not realize this is a problem and people may easily overlook small nicks unintentionally.
Adam comes in pink and green. The pink seems a little more common but this is not a common pattern in either color here in mid-Michigan. I've bought most of our stock from other dealers or online. The pink is a lovely clear shade and the green is light grass green. The green especially has a classy look with the strong pattern and interesting shapes.
Jeannette Glass made Adam from 1932 to 1934. Like most depression patterns, Adam is mold etched, which means the mold was etched with the design, not each individual piece. This allowed mass production which kept prices low enough that some patterns were offered as free premiums.
Adam is a medium to expensive pattern, not as untouchable as some. Although a few rare pieces of Adam will be priced in the hundreds of dollars, most pieces are more moderate, with a cup and saucer being $20-40 in 2008 for example. It is a pattern that you can realistically expect to find but that you will have to hunt.
Jeannette made Adam in a full dinner set, including serving pieces, several sizes of plates and bowls, plus candy jar, vase, candleholder and a very scarce lamp. Tumblers have square feet and there are only two sizes, both somewhat difficult to find.
Let's look at Swirl, also called Petal Swirl or Jeannette Swirl, which is also Depression glass from Jeannette. Petal dates to 1937 to 1938 and Jeannette made it mostly in pink and aquamarine plus Delpite blue. Delphite blue is opaque glass in a medium sky blue color. Jeannette used Delphite for Cherry Blossom also, but Swirl fit this opaque glass much better since the design is geometrical and shows up well in opaque glass.
The pink pieces I've seen are a touch lighter colored than Adam, which may be an optical illusion due to the glass being thinner. The ultramarine pieces are the same color as with Doric and Pansy, a rich teal shade. Do be careful with ultramarine as there was some color variation from more greenish to more blue.
Swirl is far more affordable than Adam, with only a few pieces over $50. The cup and saucer are $15-25, for example. It also is less prone to inner rim damage as most pieces do not have a sharply defined rim edge. The three-toed bowl, creamer and cup all have a smooth band around the top that could get little nicks at its base, but I've not found that to be a problem. In fact, the only point to pay extra attention to are the scallop tips on some of the bowls.
It is puzzling why Swirl has not gotten the attention and collector interest that Adam has. The pattern is graceful and pretty. The basic design is a swirl pressed into the rim and the pieces have curvy shapes with style. Plates have concentric rings on their underside and one positive of this is that wear tends to be less noticeable than if the centers were plain. Bowls are especially nice as the swirls end in small scallops that make the pieces look light and modern. The piece shown above is the Swirl footed 10 inch bowl with two handles in aquamarine.
Webmaster's NOTE: The NDGA wishes to thank the author for permission to use this article. Kathy is a dealer from Midland, Michigan. Her web site is Cat Lady's Glass.