Indiana Glass Company “Hen-on-Nest” Dishes

Indiana Glass hen in emerald green

Emerald green

Indiana Glass Company

Dunkirk, Indiana (1907-2002)

Indiana Glass produced a Hen-on-Nest covered dish that basically retained the same appearance throughout many years of production. The earliest version is smaller, the top portion measuring approximately 4 and 1/2 inches in total length, but very similar in design to the later version, which measures about 7 inches in length.  The “nest” (base) of the smaller version measures 4 and 3/8″ from end to end.

Small (earlier) Indiana Glass Hen

Small size (earlier) Indiana Glass Company Hen Dish in clear glass

The earliest examples of these hen dishes are believed to date from sometime in the 1930s or 1940s, and they are found only in clear and white milk glass.  There doesn’t seem to be any concrete, absolutely reliable information (found so far) that gives proof on exactly what year the earliest Indiana Glass hens were made.  If you have information that sheds light on this question, I sincerely request your help!

The early, smaller version has a base with a cross-hatched or basket-weave style pattern on the sides. Diagonal oriented lines cross each other at right angles to form, more or less, a pattern of interconnected diamonds.

Small size hen (top only) in white milkglass

Small size hen (top only) in white milkglass

Smaller size hen (bottom only)

Smaller size hen (bottom only)

 

(These hens are very close in appearance to the similar-sized hens produced by Imperial Glass Company, but the Imperial examples have a split-tail, not flat as on all Indiana Glass pieces.  The bases are very similar, although the Imperial version has a basketweave design on the very bottom (Indiana’s is smooth) and there are short vertical ribs arranged all around the outside top rim of the dish.  (Many,  if not all, of the Imperial-manufactured hens are marked, rather faintly in some cases, with their “I superimposed over a G” trademark on the underside of the lid.)

Indiana Glass Hen in clear, smooth rim type, circa 1950s

Indiana Glass Hen in clear, smooth rim, circa 1950s.

The later, larger (and much more commonly seen) version, which was probably introduced sometime in the late 1940s, or 1950s (sources disagree), measures about 7 inches from end to end. The base can have a very finely stippled surface or a “pebbly” or “ripply” abstract pattern that is supposed to represent a straw nest. An example of one of the earlier large size hens in clear glass is shown above. The bottom (basket or bowl) measures about 2 inches in height, and when both pieces are in place, the total height is typically about 5 and 3/8 inches.

Indiana Glass in Blue Carnival

Blue Carnival

 

These hens are NEVER marked with an actual trademark or logo representing the company, however, the Indiana Glass hen can easily be recognized at a glance from it’s characteristic form. The tail is narrow and “flat”, pointing straight back from the head, and is never “split” or “divided” as is common on many, many hens made by other glass manufacturers. The cover (“back”) of the dish has a mold “circle” about one and 1/4 inches in diameter (this measurement referring to the larger size hen) in the center, which can basically be considered a diagnostic feature of all Indiana hens. This circle is actually called a “valve mark”— please see the post submitted by Bob Rawlings, former plant manager at Indiana Glass, in the Comments section of this page.

Posted here are various pictures of these hens so you will soon be able to recognize them easily!

Indiana Glass hen in pink

Pink

The earlier versions of the hen have a smooth upper rim on the nest, and later versions (probably introduced in the 1950s or 1960s) have a “beaded” edge, somewhat similar to the beaded Candlewick pattern made by Imperial Glass.  In the earlier years, only clear glass and white milkglass hens were made. Some of the white milkglass hens have an “open beaded” rim, with small gaps in between each bead.  Many of the early clear and milkglass hens originally came with the combs painted with red cold paint which has partially or wholly worn off.

Indiana Glass hen in white milkglass

White Milkglass

The era of the “colored” hens (any color other than clear or white) seems to have phased in sometime during the mid to late 1960s, with possibly the amber and the green hens coming into production first, followed by many other colors throughout the 1970s, ’80s and into the 1990s.

Indiana Glass hen dishes show up for sale on ebay and other online venues frequently, and the names by which they are called range widely……  HON (Hen-on-nest) dish, Nut dish, candy dish, trinket dish, relish dish, hen dish, chicken dish, rooster dish, and many other names.

Indiana Glass - Cranberry colored hen

Indiana Glass Hen on Nest dish in “Cranberry”

I’m trying to assemble a list of all of the colors found in these hens.  As with any field of collecting glass, there is confusion on color NAMES, thus one specific, distinct color might be called a particular name by one collector, yet the same exact color may be referred to by an entirely different name by another collector, thus creating confusion and making the total number of distinct colors recorded as higher than in reality.

Indiana Glass hen in amber

Amber

 

From what I have read, so far, it seems the total number of distinct colors range anywhere from 20 to 35 or so. There are also slight color shade differences, and grades of depth of a certain color — for instance, amber may range from a lighter almost yellowish amber, or lean toward a darker orange-amber or “beer bottle brown” amber. This might have happened occasionally if a particular batch didn’t come out exactly as intended (for a number of technical reasons), although normally Indiana Glass products are very consistent as to the exact color shade they were working to achieve.

Indiana Glass hen in midnight blue

Midnight Blue

It appears quite a number of different, yet basically identical molds (to the casual onlooker) were used over many years, as close examination of the fine details of the design show small variations, such as the exact shape and placement of the “feathers”. Also I believe that many, if not most, of the molds were re-cut and/or repaired sometime during their production life.

Emerald Green, head straight-on

"Ruby Red" hen made by Indiana Glass. The color does not extend throughout the glass, but is actually a red coating (flashing) over a light amber glass.

“Ruby Red” hen made by Indiana Glass. The color does not extend throughout the glass, but is actually a red coating (flashing) over a light amber glass.

In order of commonness, (just my own thoughts here…….some of these colors are not that easy to find, and it’s hard to know how “scarce” they really are… ) :   White milkglass,  sometimes called “opaque white” or “milk white”, is probably #1 in abundance, followed by clear (colorless, “crystal” or “flint”),  amber (all shades), olive or “avocado” green, shades of light blue (including cornflower), blue carnival glass, marigold carnival glass, green carnival glass, pink, very pale pink, midnight blue or “smoky” blue, “Horizon” blue,  rich medium emerald green or forest green, lime green, aqua carnival, ruby red (stained over amber glass), cranberry (stained/flashed over clear), matte or frosted green, very light green or “pastel green”, yellow,  and others.  If you have an expanded list of known colors and/or have them rated as to approximate commonality, please drop me a line with your list, and let’s compare!

Frosted / Satin Green

Frosted / Satin Green

Trivia: Sharp-eyed classic TV show watchers might notice that in some episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (as early as 1970), an Indiana Glass Company hen can be seen under the counter which separates the kitchen area from the split-level living room. This prop was in the studio set of the apartment that Mary supposedly lived in (the show was set in Minneapolis).  The hen appears to be avocado green (or possibly emerald green?) in color.  This serves to date the first avocado green hens to at least 1970, and probably from the late 1960s.

Indiana Glass- Hen in avocado

Avocado Green

For more information on Indiana Glass Company and the many other products they made over the years, check out this site at: Indianaglass.carnivalheaven.com .

The Dunkirk, Indiana facility ceased producing glass in 2002.  Glass sold under the name “Indiana Glass” was also produced for a while at their “sister plant” located in Sapulpa, Oklahoma (the former Bartlett-Collins Glass Company plant, later part of the Lancaster Colony Corporation who acquired Indiana Glass Company in 1957) but that plant was also shut down (shortly after being purchased by Anchor Hocking Company)  in the summer of 2008.  I’ve been told that most of the glass molds have since been sold as scrap.

The very last Indiana hen-on-nests were apparently produced in 1999 or 2000. If anyone has better information on the exact year they were last manufactured, please contact me!

“Hen on Nest” dishes have been made by many, many glass companies in the United States since at least the 1870s, if not earlier. Early producers of the hens include Atterbury & Company and Challinor & Taylor, both of Pittsburgh, in the 1880s.   Later on, other companies included Westmoreland Glass Company, Imperial Glass Company, L.E. Smith Glass Company, Fenton Art Glass Company, and many others.

Here is a page that discusses the general subject of “Hen-on-nest” dishes, written by glass researcher and hen-on-nest collector Shirley Smith:   http://nmgcs.org/articles/42-hen-on-a-nest-studying-a-glass-collection.html.

This page (on the fentonaddict.com site) discusses the finer details in distinguishing Fenton Art Glass Company hens: Features and Characteristics of Fenton Glass Hens.

Indiana Glass hen in light blue

Light Blue or Cornflower Blue

Indiana Glass Company hen in amber, tail view

Blue carnival- head shot

Click here to go to my Home Page.

 

Please keep in mind: this page is under construction, and I hope to be adding more material as time goes by.   Any comments are welcome!

20 Responses to Indiana Glass Company “Hen-on-Nest” Dishes

  1. Bob Rawlings says:

    David,
    Indiana Glass to my knowledge never made a Hen in Black. They made just about every other color but black was not one. Several European and Asian companies did, but it would be impossible to tell which one with out a picture.

    Bob Rawlings
    Curator Glass museum
    Dunkirk, Indiana.

  2. Dayna Rockage says:

    Hi David, I have a HON all black with gold trim. This was my grandmother’s. It was given to her in Scotland when she was a little girl by a woman she used to help bake bread. I see no markings on it at all. She passed away at age 83 about 56 years ago. How do I find out any information about this.
    Tku
    Dayna

    • David says:

      Sorry, Dayna, but my page is about Indiana Glass hens, and I don’t know much about other glass hens. It is possible it was made in the US or Europe. A good reference book which describes many hens was written by Shirley Smith…… http://www.amazon.com/Glass-Nest-Covered-Dishes-Identification/dp/157432537X
      I don’t have a copy of that book so I don’t know if she would have info that could shed light on your hen. Most of the earlier hens from the late 1800s were made in white milkglass, or occasionally in “slag glass” (“marbled” white and purple milk glass). If the hen was made in Europe, it may be much more difficult to uncover info on actual manufacturer.
      Best regards, David

  3. Terri Campbell says:

    What colors are the most rare? My mother has been collecting hens on a nest for many years. She said the “yellow” was the hardest for her to find. Is yellow the rarest color?

    • David says:

      Hi Terri,
      I’m assuming you are asking about the Indiana Glass Company hens, and not “hens in general”. If you read all of the text I’ve written on this page, I’ve already included a list of known colors and my own uneducated opinion on their approximate rarity, from most common to least common. I can say that the white milkglass hen is the MOST common, and clear and amber are close runner-ups, but all bets are off with the hens on the rare end of the scale.
      I have also asked for input from readers and NO ONE has written to tell me which colors they believe to be the hardest to find. So I assume that no one really knows for sure……or is interested enough in the subject to suggest to other collectors which ones seem to be the scarcest.
      Best regards, David

  4. Lori says:

    David,
    Would you happen to know if Indiana Glass marked any of their products? I have a fairy lamp allegedly from Indiana Glass, but the only identifying mark is a 1/4″ circle on the base, which seems to be the identifying mark for Indiana Glass. However, I found information that indicated an identifying mark, “LCC” may have been stamped on the glass. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Lori

    • David says:

      Hi Lori,
      As I mention on this page: , practically all Indiana Glass Company glassware is unmarked. I’m not aware that Indiana Glass ever used a “circle” as an identifying mark, although their glass hen-on-nest dishes do have a characteristic “circle” mark in the center of the back, (part of the mold structure)…. such a feature is NOT intended as an identifying logo or marking for Indiana Glass. A few items were marked with ‘LCC’ (Lancaster Colony Corporation) after LCC acquired Indiana Glass, but the great majority of Indiana Glass pieces are NOT marked. Just assume your fairy lamp was NOT made by Indiana Glass unless proven otherwise by concrete evidence (catalog listings or advertisements, or an original box showing illustration and description).
      ~David

  5. Nicole says:

    Does anyone know the value of a red indiana glass hen on nest?

    • David says:

      Hi Nicole, there is no “official” market value for a ruby red colored Indiana Glass hen-on-nest dish. (Keep in mind this is not a true ruby red, but a “flashed” or “stained” red coating on amber glass.)
      My advice (for what it’s worth) is to do a “saved search” on ebay, including search terms such as “Indiana Glass red hen dish” (without quotes). You will receive automatic emails from ebay with a list of posted items that include the search terms you have specified. Over a period of several weeks or months you may get a general idea on how much a typical hen of this color sells at auction. Actual ending prices can vary quite a bit from auction to auction. Just a tiny bit of damage (chip or nick) can make a considerable difference in the selling price. And I’m refering to the actual ending/selling prices [by searching ebay's "completed auctions"] NOT the mininum bid or “buy it now” price which may or may not be highly unrealistic—– since many sellers on ebay have no idea what they have, what it could be worth, and so will put a wildly optimistic (too high) minimum price when first listing an item on ebay.
      Hope this helps,
      David

  6. Billi says:

    Hi, I have a almost irridecent HON, that is Indiana glass, at least I believe it is, it has the mold on top and the tail is correct, yet I do not see a red, the one I have is much darker than the cranberrie. is there a red one?

    • David says:

      Hi Billi, Yes there is a Ruby Red glass hen made by Indiana Glass. However, it is not a “true” ruby red, meaning that the glass color itself is not a true red throughout the glass. (And it is not really “irridescent”). Indiana’s “Ruby Red” is actually an amber (light straw or yellowish color) glass that has been “flashed” with a red surface color stain. On hens that have been worn or scratched, the color may be starting to come off in places, such as on the very bottom. At the current time I don’t have a pic of a ruby red one on my webpage, but I will try to upload a picture later today. (The pictures on this page show just some of the Indiana hen colors known……….not all of them.). Thanks for writing! David

      • Billi Chavez says:

        Thanks David, That was helpful, The color is coming off on a few spots on the bottom, Thank you much for the info. and I would love to see the pic if you upload. Billi

        • Billi Chavez says:

          Oh I see the pic. yep that’s my Hen. Did they make miniture HON’s? In black? I have two of them also and besides the red and a cranberrie, which I now know the makers of, I can not find the makers of these. Billi

          • David says:

            Hi Billi,
            I’m fairly sure that Indiana Glass never made their smaller hens in any colors other than clear and white milkglass. Your black hens would be from a different maker. I’m certainly not an expert on hen-on nest dishes in general, but keep in mind that TONS of different colored hens have been imported from Asia in recent years. ~David

          • Sharon Hatt says:

            Billi – I was intrigued by your mention of a black HON and I saw one in the photo gallery/commemorative section of a site that David cited on this page. Here is the link. The National Milk Glass Collectors made a black hen to commemorate their convention one year. Checking it out might give you some more information about your black miniature HONs.

      • Bob Rawlings says:

        David, I was plant manager at Indiana glass, working at the factory from 1962 to 1992. The red is a plastic paint that was first applied on clear glass, but due to the paint coming off (because it was not fired into the glass), the color of glass was changed to amber which was not as noticeable when the paint came off. The small circle on the back of the cover is a valve mark. The valve raises up raising the glass out of the mold allowing a automatic takeout to get the glass piece.

        Bob Rawlings

        • David says:

          Hello Bob, and THANK YOU very much for your information! I will make a slight edit to the text (including mention of the “circle” being a valve mark) and pointing toward your post on this webpage.

          ~David

  7. tammy says:

    what are they worth?

    • David says:

      Hi Tammy,
      The purpose of my site is not really to appraise items, but just give some basic info on history. However, to get a rough idea on value of the different colors, I would suggest that you study online auctions (ebay) over a period of time. See what prices they actually sell for (by checking COMPLETED AUCTIONS), not what the seller is asking as a minimum bid or as a “Buy it Now” price. Many of these hens are listed with a very high starting bid that is unrealistic, and so the piece doesn’t actually sell until the minimum bid or asking price is lowered. Of course, the more common colors will sell for less than the scarcer colors. Hope this helps,
      David

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