Antique Spotlight: The Hen on Nest Glass We Grew Up With

Most of us grew up seeing these dishes somewhere in the houses of our relatives or our own homes. There are hundreds of different colors, patterns, and sizes of the iconic hen on nest dish. For collectors there is something that draws them to this fun and classic glassware. The iconic designs are a wonderful collectible that has an incredible amount of variety in color and size. Read on to find out more about hen on nest dishes.

Via/ Wiki Commons

The History

Going all the way back to the 18th century, hen on nest dishes were imported to the U.S. from England at great expense- a trinket that only the wealthy could afford. As they grew in popularity, knock-offs popped up during the 19th century, even more so once mass production of pressed glass increased how many colors and models a company could make.

Via/ Flickr

Almost Infinite Variety

In the 20th century, the number of manufacturers selling their hen on nest dishes in the U.S. was staggering. Well-known companies like Anchor-Hocking, Westmoreland, Fenton, and Boyd all made their own versions of this kitschy classic, though the list of manufactures is extremely long. Collectors can refer to them as HON, roosters on nest, chicken on nest or any number of variations on the name.

Vaseline glass hen on nest made by Fenton. Via/ Wiki Commons

In the smaller sizes they are often called trinket boxes or salt cellars. The larger sizes are often referred to as nut or candy dishes. Unfortunately, the variety of makers and colors can sometimes make it hard to identify how old they are. Though some famous makers, like Indiana Glass, did mark their pieces and rarely changed designs (instead changing color frequently), making it easier to identify and collect.

And hen on nest glass pieces aren’t limited to species, either. The unique frog nest below is one of many interesting designs to come from the popular hen on nest fad. Ducks, geese, and other animals were also made in abundance. Though white milk glass and clear are the two most common colors of hen on nest dishes, they were available in almost every color from amber to swirls to jadeite to carnival & vaseline glass.

Building a Collection

Unique slag glass frog on nest. Via/ Flickr

These dishes can vary quite a bit in price. Some of the most colorful or authentic-looking pieces can actually be from the ’70s-’90s. Study the pieces carefully and you will notice small details that give a clue as to when they were made, though many pieces do not have a maker’s mark.

Most pieces will sell for only $5 to $30 dollars, but especially rare or old items may sometimes go for upwards of $100 or more. If you’re looking to start a collection there are many great deals to be had for these fun and colorful dishes.

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