Indiana Fair Souvenirs
By Dr. Larry Keig
The iridescent Indiana Fair hand-lettered souvenirs have long been thought prizes, giveaways, or low-cost take-homes from the Indiana State Fair at Indianapolis. That ascription is in doubt, however, as there is no mention of “state fair” on any that have been reported.
A more likely provenance is the county fair at Indiana, Pennsylvania, the small town where the Dugan and Diamond glass plant produced carnival, stretch, and other glass from 1909-1931. All patterns on which the souvenirs have been reported were made by Diamond in the late teens and early-to-mid-1920s, and all known are dated from 1921-1927. The hand-inscribed fair pieces are obviously nowhere near as showy as the elaborately embossed and extraordinarily well-designed Indianapolis Soldiers and Sailors Monument and the Indianapolis State House commemoratives made by Fenton.
At least nine different iridescent Indiana Fair items are known: Band hat and Band baskets with looped factory-attached glass handles in two colors, Coin Spot compote, Windflower plate, Adam’s Rib mug, an unnamed and unpatterned mug, and two additional items illustrated in a classic book on glass made at the Indiana, Pennsylvania, factory. There may be others.
Band, sometimes called Optic Rib and Band, with concave “optic” ribs on the interior, is a Diamond pattern. The pattern comes with two exterior subtypes: (a) one with two raised bands with no patterning between them near the top and (b) the other with lattice crosshatching between the bands. The latter is slightly dressier than the other.
The Band hat, with two opposite sides turned in, is the more common of the two available shapes. Hats are easily found in marigold, but a bit more difficult to come by in amethyst. They have also been reported in pink with marigold overlay, amber or horehound, and a pale pastel blue with marigold overlay, all of which are rare. The marigold hat is sometimes found set in an ornate metal holder with spindly metal handle. These are often called “violet baskets.”
The pattern is also available in a basket with a glass handle which has been fused to a hat at its pulled-in points. The handle on the marigold basket is clear crystal. The handle on the amethyst basket is amethyst. The baskets with applied handles like this are hard to come by but anything but a drain on the pocketbook.
The scribbled lettering on the illustrated plain band amethyst hat reads “Souvenir/Indiana Fair/1925.” Its silvery exterior iridescence makes it possible to discern what is written without difficulty. The hat is from Mike Carwile’s collection. He acquired it via an eBay auction.
Indiana Fair souvenir baskets are available in marigold and amethyst. The marigold basket has the plain band near the top. The holder of the basket is marigold, the handle clear. The lettering reads “Souvenir/Indiana Fair/ 1924.” It is hard to detect what is scrawled in black on the side of the holder, a downside when it comes to souvenirs like this.
The amethyst basket, with a gold finish and a non-iridescent amethyst applied handle, has the lattice between the two raised bands. The lettering reads “Souvenir/Indiana Fair/1922.” Because there is a clear contrast between the surface color of the container and the black lettering, the script is easy to ascertain.
The amethyst Band hat, with metallic iridescence, is the only reported Indiana Fair souvenir in this shape. Photo courtesy of Mike Carwile.
The amethyst souvenir basket has the lattice filigree between the bands, a pleasing adornment to a simple pattern. Photo courtesy of Diane Highnam.
The little Band baskets in marigold are occasionally Indiana Fair-inscribed.
Coin Spot is named for the design on its underside and stem. The 16 alternating coined and unpatterned columns are found pressed into the surface. The six oblong coins on each column of the receptacle are larger than the two coins on the stem. The interior surface is plain.
Two versions of the pattern are available. On one, the coins are textured (or stippled). On the other the coins are smooth (or non-stippled). The stretchy items are more likely than those with a satin finish to have the textured coins.
Made by both Dugan and Diamond, Coin Spot appeared in industry catalogs until the glassmaking plant closed in 1931. The pattern’s long life helps account for the large number of colors manufactured.
Samantha Prince described and pictured a stretch white Coin Spot souvenir in the January 18, 2018, issue of the HOC Mailing List. Its handwriting reads “Souvenir/Indiana Fair/’22.” Cal Hackeman posted a photo of another Indiana Fair souvenir stretch glass compote in that same pattern and color in the August 1, 2019, issue of the Mailing List. Like Samantha’s, it is dated 1922. That at least two of these are known suggests that Diamond was discriminating, not happenstance, in what it lettered.
The stretch Coin Spot compotes in white were probably produced in the early 1920s. Photos courtesy of Samantha Prince.
Windflower is an easy pattern to identify but difficult to describe. Its flowers and divided leaves resemble buttercups to which the windflower is related, a quick way to identify the pattern. The pattern-defining element occupies about half the interior surface. That and the faceted band which encircles the foliage take up about three- fifths of the interior. The exterior is unpatterned as is the underside of the collar base.
The Windflower pattern was introduced by Diamond no later than the mid-teens and remained in production well into the 1920s. The original factory mold drawing is reprinted in Carl O. Burns’s Dugan & Diamond Carnival Glass (1999, p. 151) and used here with permission.
Windflower is available in bowls, plates, and nappies. Bowls have been reported in marigold, amethyst, blue, and marigold over lime green. According to John Britt, marigold bowls are also available with factory-painted red flowers and green leaves. In recent years, plates have sold only in marigold and cobalt blue, but are also available in amethyst, as Jerry Kudlac, who collected and studied the pattern for years, verified long ago (The Carnival Pump, September 2005, pp. 10-12). Nappies are known in marigold, amethyst, and ice green.
The first-reported souvenir Windflower plate, in cobalt, from Lee Markley’s collection, sold at the 2019 ICGA convention auction in Des Moines. Its lettering reads “Souvenir/Indiana Fair/1921.” It sold for nearly double what a blue plate had previously brought. Given the premium price, one has to wonder if there was a bidding war among Hoosiers (like Lee), western Pennsylvanians where it was made, and collectors specializing in hand- inscribed items like this.
The Windflower plate with Indiana Fair lettering, until recently in Lee Markley’s collection, sold at the 2019 ICGA convention.
Adam’s Rib is carnival to some, patterned stretch to others. Introduced by Diamond in 1925 as its #200 pattern, the vesseled portion of the exterior is made up of slightly embossed ribs topped by a raised horizontal band. Other areas of the outer surface are unpatterned as is the interior. All items, except candlesticks, sit on a pedestal base.
Adam’s Rib was produced in several shapes (1) but in a limited range of colors. Celeste blue and ice green are the most often seen, but marigold on milk glass is, curiously, also available.
A handled tumbler/mug in celeste (Harding) blue is the only iridized Adam’s Rib souvenir item that has been reported. It is lettered “Souvenir/Indiana Fair/1927”. Its diameter at the top rim is two and three-fourth inches, its height five and one-eighth inches, and its base diameter two and five-eighth inches. It is in Cal Hackeman’s collection. (2)
The souvenir mugs in celeste blue, like this Adam’s Rib, are dated 1926 or 1927, the final years known to have an inscribed date. Photo courtesy of Cal Hackeman.
Unnamed Indiana Fair Souvenirs
Three Indiana Fair items remain unnamed. A souvenir mug is available in an unpatterned stretch celeste blue. Its lettering reads “Souvenir/Indiana Fair/1926.” Its top diameter is three and three-eighth inches, its height five inches, and its base diameter two and five-eighth inches. It is also from Cal Hackeman’s collection.
An unnamed and unpatterned stretch celeste blue mug with 1926 Indiana Fair lettering. Photo courtesy of Cal Hackeman.
Two additional iridized Indiana Fair souvenirs are illustrated and described in Heacock, Measell, and Wiggins’s Dugan/Diamond(1993). (3) One is a celeste blue mug (p. 111, No. 643). Its exterior is unpatterned, its interior ribbed. Its gold lettering reads “Souvenir/Indiana Fair/1927.”
The other is a blue Royal Luster small plate with metallic iridescence (p. 116, No. 699). Apparently undated, its black lettering reads simply “Souvenir/Indiana Fair.”
Readers who know of other Indiana Fair items are asked to report them for an article update. It would not be at all surprising to discover that more iridescent patterns and shapes were made to commemorate the Indiana Fair. A souvenir dated 1923 is a good possibility because all other years between 1921 and 1927 are represented.
(1) In an expansive article by Barb Chamberlain in the June 2018 issue of The Carnival Pump (pp. 12-13), several of the many shapes in the Adam’s Rib pattern are illustrated and described.
(2) Cal Hackeman, an authority on stretch glass, responded to an inquiry in the HOC Mailing List on Indiana Fair hand-lettered pieces. He identified two that had not previously been reported in carnival publications.
(3) The two Indiana Fair souvenirs from Heacock et al. (1993) are mentioned because the indefatigable glass researcher Greg Dilian took time to painstakingly peruse pages of color plates and their accompanying descriptions.
This article first appeared in the ICGA Pump in the September 2019 issue and is reprinted with permission.