I walked into the thrift shop next door to the feed store and noticed her immediately, sitting in the window. A pleasingly round hen-on-nest covered dish, iridescent blue carnival glass, glinting in the sunshine. Vintage. Glass. Poultry. Three of my favourite things. What else could I do? I scooped her up, took her home and set her on the piano, where I could admire her from my chair.
Fast forward a couple months and a parcel arrives in the mail from my cousin who loves to send random gifts. (You should all be so lucky as to have such a cousin). Vintage knitting books, a few interesting-looking novels and (gasp!) another hen-on-nest dish! This one smaller, clear glass with a red painted comb and wattles.
Growing curious about their provenance I examined each for maker’s marks, finding none. Google image search turned up nothing either, but when I typed “lidded glass chicken dish” into eBay, I hit the jackpot. There were 13 available and the top listing was twin to my three dollar thrift store find (score!).
I learned the manufacturer’s name (Indiana Glass) from the eBay listings, then searched up the company. The website glassbottlemarks.com popped up, and I proceeded to learn more than I ever thought possible about hen-on-nest dishes.
One line in the article I read really intrigued me, and its dramatic use of uppercase and italics made me smile:
“The smaller version (commonly known by hen-on-nest collectors as the “MYSTERY HEN”) is considered as a “PROBABLE” product of Hazel-Atlas Glass Company instead of Indiana Glass Company by author Shirley Smith in her authoritative 2007 reference book on hen dishes.”
Wow. So. Let’s unpack this.
There is enough interest out there in hen dishes, that:
- Some people are specifically hen-on-nest collectors. This must be just one branch of the hen dish collector diaspora!
- Someone has written a reference book about hen dishes.
- The author speculates that one style of hen-on-nest (the one my cousin gave me, as a matter of fact) MIGHT have been manufactured by a company other than the commonly cited one!
Oh, the intrigue! I can scarcely catch my breath! How exciting!
Seriously though, isn’t the world a wonderful place? Where one can discover the quaint existence of hen-on-nest enthusiasts and read all about their little chicken dish dramas?
I further learned that my blue hen-on-nest was made from the 1950s to the 1980s and my clear glass hen-on-nest is likely from the 1930’s, making her around eighty years old. In the 1970s, at K-Mart, my blue girl cost $1.78. No pricing info available for clear glass hen.
I wouldn’t exactly call me a hen-on-nest enthusiast, not yet anyway. I’m currently teetering on the edge. It wouldn’t take much to push me over though, like, maybe if I find a THIRD hen-on-nest. Because then, of course, I would have to try for number four!