Paula Collects: Vintage Chicken Dishware

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Paula Collects: Vintage Chicken Dishware

By Andrea Goto

The bald eagle may be the official emblem of the U.S., but even he can’t outshine the chicken. Revered as the world’s most popular bird, the domesticated chicken has played a significant role for over 8,000 years. So it makes sense that the ol’ bird finds itself memorialized in the form of dishware around the world. In the U.S., the chicken reigns as an American icon, symbolic of the hearth and home even after much of our farmlands have been transformed into concrete jungles. A kitchen with even one piece of vintage “chickenware” evokes nostalgic feelings of a simpler time.

Which is why Paula began collecting such pieces in the first place. From deviled-egg plates to casserole dishes, poached-egg cups to cookie jars, chickens have appeared on every kind of dishware at one point or another. Paula’s most prized fowl is a glass hen-on-nest salt dip cellar in which her grandmother stored bacon grease (shakers replaced salt cellars in the 1490s). Around 174 variations of this pattern, ranging in size and color, have been produced by at least 84 glass companies over the past 150 years. The most collectible of these pieces—referred to as Early American Pattern Glass—were manufactured between 1880 and 1910. Glass hen-on-nest dishware from the 1930s and 40s is known as Depression glass and comes in a wide variety of colors. These pieces are generally affordable. For instance, a 2 ¾-inch salt dip cellar sells for around $5, whereas a larger, 7-inch Degenhart glass piece (manufactured by Crystal Art Glass Company of Cambridge, Ohio) can fetch $35.

Extremely rare chicken Americana like Paula’s brass pie weights, are worth a pretty penny. Placed on top of dough to keep it from shrinking or blistering during baking, pie weights are commonly made of ceramic materials, and few are as decorative or collectible as Paula’s brass chickens. But if you’re looking to create an entire chicken vignette for your table, one of the most collectible dishware around is the California Provincial Green Rooster pattern manufactured by Metlox Poppytrail in 1950. The extensive collection contains over 40 individual pieces decorated with a single, high-stepping rooster. But acquiring it requires a financial investment; a single cup is valued around $15 and a turkey platter can sell for over $400.

However large or small your flock of vintage fowl may be, the real value of a collection often boils down to the memory it evokes. Paula fondly remembers her grandmother reaching into her salt cellar to retrieve a slab of bacon grease needed to cook up some mouth-watering cornbread. To Paula, that little glass chicken has no retail value. In fact, it’s priceless.

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Reader Comments:

54321

teache me how make to Chicken noodle casserole. Paula deen.

By Donna marie Eichhorn on February 22, 2013

54321

I aso collect chickens for my kitchen love them

By Anonymous on July 23, 2011

54321

I collect rooster items, too. Just yesterday I went to a thrift store near my house and found a cute ceramic salt & pepper set of white roosters sitting in a little ceramic basket.... 75 cents. Now that's a bargain anyone would love. I'm sure it is a set hand made by someone and now has a new home. It is so much fun finding such things and bringing them home and displaying. Some day I'd like to have real chickens in my yard.

By Mary on July 13, 2011

54321

My mother raised chickens when I was growing up,don't ask about cleaning the chicken house, not a favorite activity. I always tried to find something chicken to give her after my parents retired and moved to town I now have her collection and every time I see anything chicken I always think of her and her chickens and eggs

By Rhonda Lee on May 20, 2011

54321

Very interesting! :D I discovered my mother is using "California Provincial Green Rooster pattern manufactured by Metlox Poppytrail in 1950" as her place settings to go with her kitchen that is decorated with about 61 chickens and roosters! She also has one of those glass wells, in green. I loved playing with it as a child and hiding a marble every once in a while to pretend it laid an egg. :D A very "valuable" article in deed!

By M Schwitzing on May 19, 2011

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That is so cool. I found out that my mom has a "glass hen-on-nest salt dip cellar" on a book shelf and a neat little collection of "California Provincial Green Rooster pattern manufactured by Metlox Poppytrail in 1950" in her cupboard. I'm not sure how long it will last as I believe she has decided to start using it as regular ware to match her kitchen that is decorated with at least 61 chickens and roosters. I suppose that will make it even more rare for the rest of ya'll. :D Hopefully, we'll get to reserve one plate to display in her honor.

By M Schwitzing on May 19, 2011

54321

amazing collection I'm gonna bookmark this for my research project

By Josep Pined on May 13, 2011

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Paula, I was so excited to see the purple slag glass rooster-on-a-nest in your Christmas issue of 2010. I have one just like it which I purchased in 1971 at a darling shop in Vermont. He still graces my Country French kitchen. Love The Lady and Sons. My husband and I visited there last year in May. Thanks, Paula, for your inspiration! Kathy Torres

By Kathy Torres on May 05, 2011

54321

I Love your polka dot butter dish, but have been unsuccessful in locating one. Where can someone order one? Best Wishes Miss Paula

By Lisa @ Legacy Farm on April 13, 2011

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I am a good old "GEORGIA" girl too. Paula has help me with lots of new receipes and put the interest back in the kitchen. Thanks Paula for all your good food and love from your kitchen & family. I hope one day I can meet you & say thank you in person. Oh! also you help me to do a online course in event planning. At 60 it was a little hard but after losing my job of 33 yrs when our bank closed you help me put my foot forward an do what I want too. From the mountains of Northeast GA....Thanks.

By Judy Mayer on April 13, 2011

54321

My mother use to have both your Carnival Glass Chicken dishes and in White as well. I use to love soft boiled eggs in these dishes.

By Robin Dinsmore on April 06, 2011

54321

How timely your article is! Just two weeks ago my father, aunt, and their 4 children gathered together to sort through my grandmother's estate. Grannie passed away in October, but left in each of us her love of gardening and many mouth-watering memories of her cooking. My breath caught upon seeing the glass hen-on-nest in your picture - it is very similar to one I came home with from Grannie's. It will be interesting to research the manufacturer of the piece I inherited. But, like Paula with her Grandmother's salt dip cellar, my Grannie's hen-on-nest is actually priceless!

By JLRoberts on April 06, 2011

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By JLRoberts on April 06, 2011

54321

I raise chickens and collect chicken items. I think my real chickens out number my collectibles though. Thank you for sharing with us Paula!

By Debbie on April 06, 2011

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Paula, I always knew you were my kind of gal. I love Roosters and Hens in every shape and size and have so many that @ 5 yrs ago I ask my family to stop buying them. Of course, I still get some really neat ones that I can not say, "No" to. I even loved fowls as a child. I lived in the city as a child and one year I got a baby chic for Easter. That chick grew to a very large rooster that live in our backyard. He followed us around like a dog and slept on our back steps. He would not go in his house even in cold weather. Once we had a hail storm. He would not go in his house and my precious Mom had to go out in the middle of the storm and bring him inside. He could have been a cartoon he was so funny!

By Elizabeth Mabe on April 06, 2011

54321

I love collecting Roosters/Chickens too. When my Grandmother passes I went through her house and kept all her roosters...they mean so much to me. I've since added many to my collection and they've taken over my kitchen and into my living room book shelves. I'd love to see more of your collection. But, what I'd love the most is the next time I come to Savannah is to eat at your restaurant. I have serveral of your cook books and I love to add my own little "bam" to them. I was born in Georgia and was raised on the most wonderful southern food. I learned most of my cooking from my Great Grandmother, who by the way was blind. She cooked everything from scratch. I love you Paula and I love love love your laugh!

By Vickie on April 06, 2011

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My aunt must have just about EVERY PIECE of the dinnerware just mentioned (Metlox) and my cousin has a great collection of her own as well as MANY, MANY antique and vintage pieces of "rooster/chicken ware/statues, etc. These are so HOMEY and warms up her kitchen to welcome friends and family on a daily basis. LOVE THEM

By The Favorite on April 06, 2011

54321

Your chicken collection caught my eye. My grandmother passed away July 2010. She has a chicken collection which consist of the light transparent pink, opaque white, opaque white with purple, a gorgeous blue... I think she had about 20 chickens in many different sizes. I just finished carefully packing them away, unsure what to do with them.

By Angela Ellison on April 06, 2011

54321

Dear Paula, I am amazed at how much we in my family cook like you. It could be because my grand mother lived in Augusta, Ga and made frequent trips to Savannah. Somehow there is a connection. Our roots are in the deep south with you I love cream cheese dishes and hope to come up with something for the contest. We are all great fans of yours and I'm sure my daughter Jane will enter something. you may have heard of Jane Sterling from Sumter, SC. She does the Entertain With Jane show on a local network. You are her greatest mentor. There is nothing more satisifying than to serve a well presented meal to those we love: family, friends and new aquaintances. Your Friend, Pat Putman

By pat putman on April 06, 2011

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By pat putman on April 06, 2011

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