Antique stores, flea markets and thrift shops seemed to have regained popularity in the last few years. I’ve always enjoyed browsing antique malls, swap meets and garage sales, but lately my teenage daughters also enjoy finding “treasures” from the past… I think it’s amusing that a few years back a teenager wouldn’t dare tell a friend she was wearing a piece of clothing from a second-hand shop, but now–it’s “vintage!”
Last Christmas I purchased an antique (or vintage) covered glass dish of a hen sitting on a nest (or basket) for my oldest daughter. She’s quite fond of our flock and the fact that the gift was old, unique (and a chicken) made the present a hit! I told her that my grandmother had a similar dish that she kept on the window sill by the kitchen sink.–I think that probably a lot of people (my age at least) can not only remember gathering eggs from their grandparent’s chicken coop, but also this glass chicken dish!
This year as I was searching for unique “treasures” for my daughters, I noticed that these dishes are everywhere. They not only come in various sizes and colors, but the price tag ranges from a few dollars to way more than I would pay for a hen! I did a little background research into the history of this popular dish from the past and I thought I’d share what I learned with our community of chicken enthusiasts…
For the serious collectors who look for authenticity of certain companies, etc., here are the links to info I gathered:
There are at least 100 glass companies that have produced at least 250 forms or sizes of glass hen covered dishes over the past 150 years. These dishes are referred to as an animal dish, trinket box, hen in a basket and hen on a nest. The official name, according to Smith, originated from Westmoreland glass company in the 1930s. They coined the name “hen on a nest” which has been shortened to simply “hen on nest” by latter companies and collectors. Between 1890-1910 the glass hen dishes gained advertising and publicity when they were used to package condiments, mainly mustard.
Glass hen on nest covered dishes have been made in sizes ranging from less than 2 inches to 8 inches in length. In addition to the variation in size, the type and color of the glass ranges from depression glass, milk glass, carnival glass, open salts, pressed glass, Victorian glass and lead crystal. Even though to the untrained eye (mine in particular) the dishes all look similar, there are various differences in glass companies that to the serious collector make each hen unique. Please refer to the above links if you’re wanting more detailed info on how much your grandmother’s hen is worth! There are some of these dishes worth hundreds of dollars!
I only paid $5 for my daughter’s glass “hen on nest” and I doubt if it’s worth much more than that… But since we’re a community of chicken keepers, I feel comfortable sharing my thoughts that collecting chicken related gifts is akin to raising chickens. For example: I love my heritage breeds (Orpington, Plymouth Rock, Wyandotte, Maran), but I’m just as attached to my red-sex link and Easter Egger. In fact Esther, my Cinnamon Queen (a cross between a Silver Laced Wynandotte hen and a New Hampshire rooster), is not only my favorite, she’s the alpha hen of the flock. She not only has the most personality and spunk of all my chickens, she’s also my best egg layer! Beauty and worth are definitely in the eye of the beholder!
These chicken-themed salt and pepper shakers bring to mind the soap dish mom used to keep by the kitchen sink!