Indiana Glass

By Clinton J. Holloway

 

Fifty years ago my Mother graduated from Dunkirk High School in the small town of Dunkirk, Indiana. Today the population is about 2,300; at that time the population was larger because Dunkirk boasted a thriving glass manufacturing industry. Dunkirk was home to Kerr Glass, which made largely utilitarian objects such as canning jars, and Indiana Glass, which made fancy glass. An abundance of natural gas was discovered in the late 19th century, which allowed for an economical way to melt the components to form glass, which was the reason Dunkirk became known as the Glass Capitol of Indiana.

 

Production for fancy glass began in about 1908. Beautiful high quality glassware for table use was the earliest product. Later on, Carnival glass and Goofus glass were produced, both of which were used as premiums for business and fairs, hence the name Carnival glass. Colorful iridescence of deep hues characterize early Indiana Carnival glass. Later examples of the 1970s were more transparent, though they still possessed that iridescent glimmer.

 

Booth T-185 has a pair of Indiana Glass plates in the iridescent gold color for $10 each (photo, above right). These also came in blue. These depict scenes from the 1976 observance of the U.S. Bicentennial. When I was a kid growing up in that part of Indiana, every home featured these ’76 plates from Indiana Glass!

 

By the Great Depression of the 1930s, Indiana Glass was one of the largest manufacturers of a genre of clear, pink and green (sometimes ice blue) dishware collectively known as Depression glass. My grandmother had several pieces that were local premiums given out at the movie theatre and found in soap and oatmeal boxes.  

 

Following the Second World War, production of glass really ramped up; some popular 1950s and ’60s patterns in milk glass included Cabbage Leaf and Harvest; the latter employs grape leaves and clusters. A tall Harvest compote with lid can be found in T-267 for $28 surrounded by an army of bud vases (photo, above left). These milk glass bud vases were the staple of the florist shop holding a bloom or two, but are now collectors’ items at $22 each. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have several of these on hand to present summer blossoms to your friends and neighbors? Booth T-267 is currently running a 40 percent off sale, so don’t expect these beauties to last longer than the flowers!

 

When I was a kid in the 1970s and ’80s, all of our family glassware came from the retail shop (mostly seconds) of Indiana Glass. We had Diamond Point glasses at one time and later the pattern Recollection. Booth B-204 in the original GasLamp has an 18-inch Diamond point compote with lid for $77.99 that is surrounded by a dozen water goblets for $33.99 (photo above). It is just like what we had!

 

My grandmother told that they would often go scavenge the “broken piles” of pieces that were going to be melted down and made into new glass. She had a King’s Crown compote in gold, which I now have. At Booth B-106 I found nine King’s Crown cordials with the ruby crown for $62 (plus a 15 percent off discount!).

 

The Indiana Glass Company merged with others and by 2002 ceased all production in Dunkirk. The local public library runs an impressive museum of more than  8,000 pieces of glass from hundreds of factories (of course their pride is in the hometown Indiana Glass). Visit them online at www.dunkirkpubliclibrary.com.  The company produced an impressive array of patterns, colors and styles sure to please any collector or decorator. There is even a collector book with price guide.   

 

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