Depression Glass: What is Moroccan Amethyst?

From the Archives, Sept. 2008
By Les Stewart
   I struggled with the name for this article. I wanted to call it “When is Moroccan Amethyst really Moroccan Amethyst?” That is because collecting Moroccan Amethyst can be quite frustrating. Amethyst means purple in color, but, not all purple glass is Moroccan Amethyst. A lot of the glass listed for sale on web sites such as EBAY as being Moroccan Amethyst are really some other glass entirely!
   Moroccan Amethyst glass was made in the early sixties by the Continental Can Company. I have never found when it stopped being made, but believe it ended production in early 70s. The trade name was Hazel Ware. The Continental Can Company and Hazel Ware names are both usually on original boxes of Moroccan Amethyst. Hazel Atlas seems to have become Hazel Ware when merged into the Continental Can Company. Experts use the Hazel Atlas and Hazel Ware names interchangeably when talking on Moroccan Amethyst. Some sides of boxes will only have Hazel Atlas so this may have been a gradual change in name.
   The color is almost everything for Moroccan Amethyst collectors. People collect Moroccan Amethyst for the shapes and for it’s beautiful purple color. The Moroccan Amethyst pattern or shape of glass is found in other colors and not always considered to be Moroccan Amethyst. Most Moroccan Amethyst shaped pieces can also be found in a beautiful light blue color that was sold under the Capri name. Similar shaped glass from the same molds are also found in solid white milk glass, crystal, opaque green, and opaque amber. When the Amethyst and Milk Glass are used together the box will be labeled Alpine.
   So Moroccan Amethyst is like Royal Ruby in that the color identifies the collectible pattern name as much as the shape. But, to be Moroccan Amethyst it must have both the correct shape with the purple color or it just some other glass and made by Hazel Atlas. Where sellers get in trouble to me is calling all Amethyst Moroccan shapes Moroccan Amethyst. To me, the crystal and non-Amethyst colors are just Hazel Ware and are not Moroccan Amethyst. I will leave that up to you, but I would never list a milk glass eggnog set as Moroccan Amethyst. Especially will not because in the original box it is called Colonial Milk-White Hostess Service by Hazel Ware and not Moroccan Amethyst.
   There are different shaped patterns within Moroccan Amethyst with variations. The square and round items are part of a shape called Colony by authors. Colony was the company reselling for Hazel Atlas and probably not the pattern name. Simplicity is on many of the boxes containing the round & square Moroccan Amethyst. So I am guessing the pattern name may have been really Simplicity.
   The rounded items frequently have a swirl running from top to bottom like in the tumblers. This is the largest grouping of Moroccan Amethyst including serving items like the vase, cocktail shaker, ice tub, and two sizes of candy dishes.
   The more often thought of shape is the other 8-sided, Octagon shape. The tumblers that go with this shape do not have the swirl and have either a stemmed or flat bottom. There are also 3-sided ash trays. Collectors find it neat that the 3-sided ash trays have both rounded corner (goes with Colony shaped items best) and pointed corner (goes with the Octagon shaped items best). There are no large serving pieces in this shape.
   I’m sure that people mix and match Moroccan by the Amethyst color. However, some pieces have to be interchangeable because only one shape exists. The coffee cup seems to be the only piece that was shipped from the factory with both round and square Colony shapes and the 8-sided Octagon shape. It has a rounded cup which seems to fit better with Colony. The sharp lines and edges of the handle seem to fit better with the Octagon shaped items. This seems to be an effort to design a cup that went with both lines.
   There are two more shapes for cups and both have a very strong swirled design. Both the snack set and punch set cups have a swirl continue into the base of the cup. This ends up with a cup that is almost footed that fits perfectly on the snack plate. Of the many snack sets I have seen, the Hazel Ware ones are the only ones that have the plate and cup molded to almost snap together. You can tilt the snack plate substantially and the cup just sets in place as designed. The snack set cups have a closed handle and punch sets have an open hooked handle to allow them to hang on the punch or eggnog bowl. Snack sets are found in amethyst, Alpine color combination, milk glass, crystal, and when in blue they become Capri sets. The punch sets I had only seen until recently were in the Alpine milk glass with amethyst colors. This is because the only base I had seen was amethyst and the punch bowl was in milk glass or crystal. The punch bowl was seen in photos recently in amethyst, but it arrived broken. The crystal and milk glass bowls are also seen in boxed Eggnog sets without a base. A crystal punch base was seen recently so it appears an all crystal punch set was also sold.
   Another cross over item is the dinner plate. The only dinner sized plate was made just in the 8-sided Octagon shape. So you must use different shapes together to set a table. The square Colony plates are too small and I contend they were meant to be luncheon plates. They are the same size as ones from the snack set without the cup indentation in the snack plate. Be care with those square ones because the snack version seems much less expensive and way more available then the luncheon plates.
   Tumblers are found in three different shapes. The tall swirl ones were thought to only go with the Colony round/square shape. The footed style was thought to only go with 8-sided Octagon shape. The footed goblet shape can also be found in flat footed tumblers. Then there are the square footed one. I believe these go with the square colony items best.
   You can make a whole collection out of searching for Moroccan Amethyst still in original boxes. There are many to watch for in Moroccan Amethyst:
   • Punch sets in alpine color. Note the box clearly shows there should be a plastic ladle with the set. There needs to be 12 amethyst cups, one amethyst base, one milk glass swirled punch bowl, and one plastic ladle to be complete.
   • The salad set consists of the large and small round bowls in the Colony shape along with a plastic fork and spoon.
   • There is a 7-piece “Bartender’s Set” combining the chrome top cocktail shaker with 6 of the next to smallest drink glasses.
   • There is a 4-piece “The Magic Hour” cocktail set combining the cocktail stirrer with metal stir spoon and 2 of the smallest drink glasses.
   • There is chip & dip set. Or at least I have a box that says that is the contents. The box has never been opened so I will not know the shape of the metal clip to link the bowls together until I see another set.
   • A favorite of mine is the 4-place setting box. A favorite because it has the 8-side Octagon shaped items with the common cup and the back of this box shows Colony shaped items to buy to go with the Octagon shaped place setting. If you think back to my comments on the three tumbler shapes you probably need to toss out those theories. This set in 8-side Octagon shape has both the footed and swirl tumblers as pieces to add to the 8-side set.
   • There is a boxed set of Hazel Ware with the tall swirled ice teas and milk glass coasters. I may be wrong, but the only box I have seen was years ago and believe it said Alpine on it. This set went at huge price for the time so I passed and have regretted ever since, as I have not seen a second boxed set after years.
   • Snack sets are available in all amethyst or as Alpine sets with amethyst plates and milk glass cup. They are available with the seashell shaped plates and also in square shape. The square shaped snack box has the company Colony name on it. I do not consider the crystal sets Moroccan Amethyst. To me they are just a Hazel Ware crystal snack set as is the blue version found with the Capri name.
   • There is a 12 place setting box. That would be 4 plates, 4 saucers, and 4 small bowls in Octagon shape with 4 cups.
   • The last one I can talk about is the most recent and precious find. This is the tall candy in a box for just it. This of course begs the question of what other individual Moroccan Amethyst items had their own box. I am betting the large serving items like the small candy, ice tub, and vase at a minimum had their own box. I scan this category over whole Internet multiple times weekly so if there are more boxed sets then hopefully I find them.
   • REMEMBER, to collectors of sets the box is frequently as much or more important than the glass. So PLEASE do NOT mark on the boxes. There is a rapidly growing group of collectors looking for items in original boxes and sadly dealers are not making sales because they’ve damaged the boxes or even worse thrown them away.
   There are many oddities to watch for in Moroccan Amethyst:
   • The Alpine sets with the combined purple and milk glass colors make them very desirable to collectors, which in turn makes them more difficult to find. They really are not complete without the correct plastic ladle.
   • There is no cream/sugar to use with Moroccan Amethyst. Seems so hard to believe they would make three shape versions of Moroccan Amethyst and none have cream/sugar. Hazel Atlas made amethyst colored cream/sugars in other patterns and have seen more then one design. Neither of those shapes or designs seemed to fit the Moroccan theme so I have not added a cream/sugar go-with yet.
   • Same for pitchers. One sold recently in the amethyst color in some other Hazel Atlas shape and it went high so am sure it will be used within a Moroccan Amethyst collector’s home.
   • Same for candles. The star shaped ones I have are go-with items. Books show them with Moroccan Amethyst and we will use with it, but doubt sincerely they were marketed as Moroccan Amethyst. Look at the bottom of the candles to see the same rays with dot feet as on the coaster.
   • Same for a butter dish. It is worse because I have not seen another shape from Hazel Atlas in the amethyst color at all.
   • Coasters are maybe one of the rarest of go-with items. Hazel Atlas made other coasters with the same knobs so be careful. The ones sold with Moroccan have the swirl like a pin wheel. I have seen other styles of Hazel Atlas coaster with flowers so they may have made many similar, but not correct coasters with the same knob design.
   • There are both bowls and ash trays with flowers or apples in the mold.
   The apple ones get pricey very fast.
   Another area that can be it’s own collection are the many go-with items that contain added metal. Tidbits, center handles, holders, and many more are out there. The stacking tidbits can be found in many different shapes of glass. Same for the handles being added to most all pieces of glass. Some of the neatest are twisted wire holders that contain Moroccan Amethyst glass. One example is a jam dish with two of the 8-sided bowls and I find it exceptionally well done.
   Salt & Peppers are a whole other area. There are at least 3 amethyst colored shakers sets that can be found with the HA Hazel Atlas trade mark. There is one pair in a reference book. I think this set fits the Moroccan Amethyst shape or style best.
   Moroccan Amethyst is indeed becoming more difficult to find. I attribute that to the large interest in Mid-Century or Modernism items that this pattern fits into nicely.
   Reference questions on Moroccan Amethyst are best referred to in the books; ‘Collectible Glassware of the 40s – 50s – 60s’ by Gene Florence and Mauzy’s ‘Depression Glass.’

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