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U.S. Glass Company, Gas City Nursery Rhyme pattern glass, late 19th century


Around 1885 a gas boom began in central Indiana. It propelled sleepy railroad towns in Grant, Dunkirk, Jay, and Blackford counties to bustling communities of more than 7,500 people each. About eleven glass factories were located in the region around the turn of the century, including the United States Glass Company. Many towns in the “gas belt” had glass factories, but few survived after the gas was used up. Indiana’s glass industry has been preserved in Dunkirk’s Glass Museum, which houses 3,000 examples of glassware from more than 50 companies throughout the United States.

  • Nursery Rhyme pattern glass, late 19th century
  • Bowl 3 3/8″ x 4 5/8″; cup 1 3/8″ x 1 5/8″
  • Private Collection
  • Keywords: design, glassware, cut glass, embossed glass, milk glass
  • Subjects: people, children, wild animals

The United States Glass Company ran an automated plant in Gas City, where pieces in the Nursery Rhyme pattern were produced from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. The embossed figures are animals and young people. The punch bowl depicts the wolf in Grandma’s clothes, Red Riding Hood, a tree, and a house. The size of the dishes was scaled down for easy use by children.

Some Points To Consider

  • Ask students: Did you have special dishes when you were little? How do these glass items compare with the ones you had? (Art 4.1.1, 4.7.3)
  • Have students research the gas boom in Indiana. What impact did it have on Gas City and the U.S. Glass Company? (Social Studies 4.1.9)

Suggested Activities for Classroom Follow-Up

  • Ask students to bring in objects from home that incorporate nursery rhymes. Why do they think the same rhymes have lasted so long and been used in so many different ways? Help them research what a nursery rhyme is and then write their own.
  • As a class, discuss scale and proportion. Have students compare and contrast objects that are familiar. Let them practice with rulers to learn about scale. Review basic geometry shapes to discuss proportion.