Collecting Akro Agate

by Gene Loveland
Volume 12 No. 3 - October 1985

As a printer for Hallmark Cards, I mix and match many colors that are used to create greeting cards. Hallmark uses literally hundreds of different colors to manufacture cards that millions of people the world over send "when they care enough to send the very best" to paraphrase Hallmark's slogan. My involvement with color at Hallmark spurred my interest in the vivid colors of Akro Agate, starting me on collecting children's dishes. I learned many facts about collecting Akro Agate, but as with many facets of collecting, some answers haven't been found yet.

First of all, Akro Agate was made in transparent colors, green, amber, cobalt blue, and azure blue. Many sets were boxed in a set Amber set containing a teapot and lid, 2 cups and saucers, and 2 plates (photo at right). Sets were also boxed with a creamer and sugar. Because Akro sold these sets both ways, they automatically created a shortage of creamers and sugars in the small size. The large transparent sets added a sugar lid and cereal bowls. Water sets were also produced. A water pitcher and 4 tumblers were boxed two ways: as a water set and in sets of dishes. In the transparent colors, tile most desirable set to find is the azure blue in large Stippled Band. This is the only set Akro made in this color, and is the only set that has a domed lid on the sugar bowl, which is really cute! One of the most interesting sets I have found in transparent is the large Interior Panel set in transparent red. Some pieces are missing, but it has 4 tumblers. It is probably a one-of-a-kind set. Another unusual set I have found is transparent cobalt blue in small concentric Ring. The rings are present up and down the outside of the cup, and all around the saucer and plate, instead of a small band of rings as is most commonly found. I would speculate that this was a forerunner of the commonly-found Concentric Ring, but the rings or ridges made it difficult to get the glass out of the mold properly. Perhaps the mold was reworked by taking out some of the rings to increase production and create a better product.

Akro next produced opaque colors, and the marbleized colors of green & white, red & white, blue & white, and lemonade and oxblood. The single largest pattern Akro made was the Interior Panel sets in both the large and small sizes. Raised Daisy was the only set made with an embossed design, and no teapot lid was made in the pattern. Many boxed sets have been found without a slot in the box for a teapot lid, and none have appeared to my knowledge. Tumblers were made in Raised Daisy. Some odd colors appear in this pattern occasionally. For example, white creamers and sugars have been found. Stacked Disc and Interior Panel in both large and small sizes is a double patterned set, with panels on the insides, and rows, or "stacks" on the outside of all pieces. The large Stacked Disc and Interior Panel water sets are hard to find. Has anyone found a tumbler in any color other than white? Stacked Disc and Interior Panel serving pieces are also used in the large Concentric Ring sets. The teapot lid is extremely hard to find, and the serving pieces in cobalt are common compared to any other color in this pattern. I have a teapot, creamer, and sugar in Turquoise, with white lids, and I have one teapot lid in yellow, which is extremely rare.

Stacked Disc only came in the small size, to my knowledge, and was made in the pretty opaque colors and blue and white marbleized. Concentric Rib and Concentric Ring patterns cause a lot of confusion to collectors. These are two different patterns. Concentric Rib seems to be the most plentiful of the Akro patterns, followed closely by large Boxed set Octagonal. One interesting set I have found in large Octagonal is the pink opaque set. The cups are very rare. I have heard statements like "The small Octagonal plates are the same as the large Octagonal saucers." This is not true - they are different. There is a lot of confusion over Octagonal and Octagonal 0. Octagonal serving pieces have closed handles, and the plates, saucers, and cereal howls do not have panels. The Octagonal 0 serving pieces have open handles, and the plates, saucers, and cereal bowls have distinct panels.

The lemonade and oxblood Octagonal sugar bowl is extremely hard to find - why? It doesn't really make sense, The small Octagonal set, to my knowledge, has only been found with small Octagonal 0 serving pieces - the teapot, lid, sugar & creamer.

Interior Panel is most noted for the marbleized sets in green & white, red & white, and blue & white, made in both large and small sizes. To complete these sets takes a lot of persistent searching. They are very pretty and a great addition to so Akro collection. Blue & white marbleized was also made in large and small Concentric Ring, small Stacked Disc, and large and small Stacked Disc and Interior Panel. What a shame more sets were not produced in the marbleized colors! I have another set of marbleized large Interior Panel in pastel pink and lavender, probably an experimental set taken home by a worker to a special little someone. This color was never in production, and is almost certainly a one-of-a-kind set. Interior Panel sets were gathered up in many different color combinations: yellow, pink, greens, blues, lavender and cobalt opaques. These are the color combinations that really catch your eyes - some of the prettiest rainbow colors that any company has ever produced.

The Miss America pattern was the only one produced with footed pieces and a squared open handle. Most of this pattern was crudely made. It came in opaque white, opaque white with a small band of decaled roses, and orange & white marbleized. Some dark transparent green cups and saucers have been found, but no serving pieces to date have been found. A novel merchandising idea came along when this set Boxed set was manufactured. A box with an izinglass insert in the box lid was produced to show these sets off to the best advantage. These still can be found by the collector.

Along came World War II. Shortly thereafter, cheap toys from Japan put the crunch on domestic toy companies. Akro Agate Glass Company was no exception. One of the last flings to stay in business was to make a large contract order for the J.P. Pressman Company in New York City. The molds used for this order were different in shape and size to anything Akro had produced before. These were named "Chiquita" and were made in transparent gray-blue and opaque green, and fired-on colors of green, orange, yellow and cobalt in large and small sets. Most of these came in boxed sets of six. Some opaque colored sets were also made in dark blue, turquoise - ranging in color from light to dark, and yellow and white. There is not a lot of this around, and these colors are not nearly as pretty as the earlier colors.

I have been able to find some transparent colors in the same shape as the fired-on colors. Transparent beer bottle brown, green, and a very rare set of transparent cobalt blue made for the J.P. Pressman Company were all very crudely made with wavy, bubbly, crazed glass, The lids are distorted and will not set straight on the teapots. This was caused by cheap production methods and raw materials in an effort to compete in the marketplace. As we all know, Akro was not able to compete with Japanese imports, and closed their doors.

These are some things I have learned collecting Akro. I know other collectors have learned many similar things, and many other facts, also. I am by no means an authority on Akro Agate. I have studied the books, articles, all available material, talked to a lot of dealers and collectors, corresponded with many people, received a lot, of "for sale" lists, and spent a lot of money. It has all been fun. Over the years I have put together about seventy sets, many rare and one-of-a-kind sets and pieces, and I've exchanged common colors in my sets for rarer colors. I have had my Akro sets photographed and made available for a slide program. I am currently in the process of updating and photographing again all of my sets for a slide program exclusively for the NDGA. I hope you enjoyed the article and learned something.