California takes great pride in its historic mission-style furniture.
From Blenko to Fenton, the glass factories of West Virginia have provided us with some of our most collectible antique glassware. The art pottery of Rookwood, Weller and Roseville would never have been possible without the rich clay soil of the Ohio Valley. And the iron foundries of Pennsylvania have provided us with Griswold skillets since the dawn of the 20th century. So what has Indiana contributed to the world and antiquity? Glad you ask.
“Things go better with Coke”... but they may well not have, had it not been for the creative genius of the Glascock brothers of Muncie. Taking the opportunity of the Indiana Bottlers Convention held in Indianapolis in the summer of 1929, the Glascocks unveiled what would become the most significant advance in the long history of the Coke-A-Cola Company: the first mass-produced Coke cooler. The “Standard”, as it was called, held 72 six-ounce bottles with storage for three back-up cases and one case for the empties and sold for a whopping $12.50.
This model and the many to follow have become collectible with the growing number of “Retro” collectors and fully restored they are valued in the thousands!
The tiny town of Batesville has been home for the highly regarded Romweber Furniture Company for more than a century, but their success has not come easy. Suffering a hit to production during the Great Depression, Romweber stayed afloat by manufacturing five-pound fruit cake boxes and through the war years of the ‘40s, they manufactured ammunition boxes and pontoons for US troops and furniture for the officer’s quarters.
Hard times behind them, they returned to quality furniture production in the 1950s with record sales of their now highly collectible Viking Oak Line.
The discovery of the Trenton Gas Field in central Indiana in 1887 brought a much needed boost to industry in the state and heralded the beginning of Indiana’s glass legacy. The Indiana Glass Company of Dunkirk was one such factory. Their pressed and blown glass pieces were moderately priced, yet highly innovative, making them an instant hit with the middle class buying public. Major trendsetters include their 1923 Avocado which is considered by many to be the first Depression Glass pattern, their 1950 release of Orange Blossom milk glass, one of the largest selling glass patterns of the 20th century, their Tiara pattern from 1970 and later that same year their Harvest Line of reissued Carnival Glass in red, gold, green, amethyst and blue. Always intended for the masses, the patterns of Indiana Glass remain a favorite with mid-range collectors.
No column on the antiquity of Indiana would be complete without the inclusion of the piece that carries our name, the “Hoosier Cabinet.” Kitchens of the late 1800s had few, if any, built-in cabinets making even the simplest of daily household chores difficult.
In 1988, John Maring of New Castle combined parts of several existing cabinets made by the Hoosier Manufacturing Company to produce a compact work and storage unit that would revolutionize the kitchen cabinet industry. It was soon copied by several other Indiana manufactures including the Coppes Company of Nappanee, the McDougal Cabinet Company of Frankfort and G I Sellers and Sons of Elwood. The Hoosier Cabinet dropped out of vogue by the late 1920s, but it has seen a resurgence in sales in recent years as primitives grow in popularity.
In a world where foreign imports flood our everyday lives, it is easy to overlook the quality craftsmanship of our forefathers. If you are fortunate enough to own pieces of Indiana antiquity, cherish them, care for them and share them with your children. For they stand as a symbol pride in where we come from, and hope for where we are headed.
Until next time,
Linda Hamer Kennett is a professional liquidation consultant specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the liquidation of estates and may be reached at 317-429-7887 or firstname.lastname@example.org.