Kemple Glass

by Gwen Shumpert
Rainbow Review Glass Journal - December 1974

One of the lovliest collectibles in the glass category is, to me, the reproduction of old pattern glass by John E. Kemple Glass Works, Kenova, W. Va.

Kemple items My first piece of Kemple glass was a milk glass ash tray. It was a beautiful thing - a good grade of glass, well made - different enough to cause me to try to find more of Mr. Kemple's glass. None of the glft shop owners I talked to could offer much in the way of information (I'm one of those collectors who wants to know all about each item) except the fact that Kemple glass was no longer available. But even though my information didn't grow, my Kemple collection did. My husband, Billy, is an avid glass collector too, so during a vacation we took off on a "Kemple hunt." We found many lovely pieces in gift shops and bought all we found. The puzzled clerk, always ended up asking the same question before we left the store. Uh, just what in the world do you intend to do with all that glass?" As you collectors know, all the non-collectors think we are completely nuts!

The photo above right shows a few of our vacation finds. I wish it were in color, for Kemple's colors are gorgeous, especially the blue. We have found pieces in red, blue, amber, green, amethyst, milk glass, gold and amberina. I understand that a pink - white slag glass was made, but we have never seen any - yet!

Kemple Ohio items We have a few pieces with the sticker reading "John E. Kemple Glass Works, E. Palestine, Ohio". This factory started in 1945, burned in 1956 - a new one built in Kenova, W. Va. The two items in the photo at left are from this Ohio factory. The goblet Is "Ivy in the Snow" pattern. The plate is embossed on the back "John E. Kemple Glass Works. E Palestine Ohio". It is the only embossed item in our Kemple collection.

Kemple items The photo at right shows some of the novelty pieces. Many different animal covered dishes in all colors were made. The 5½" cover sits on a ribbed base while the 7½" base is a basket weave. The shoe is hobnail and has a kitten peeping out the top. The little horse with the cart is cute as can be - makes you smile just looking at it! The dolphin is a favorite among Kemple collectors. Look closely at the photo - there a little fish finial on the cover.

Kemple produced a large quantity of milk glass. Many of these items are of the "tec" patterns - Aztec, Plytec, Bontec, Martec, Yutec, etc. made from the molds bought from the old McKee Glass Co. Some of these still show the "PresCut" marking. The Kemple pieces were marked with a "K" on the bottom wherever the design would allow it, and also with two paper labels. One label, gold and yellow, reads "Hand Made by John E. Kemple Glass Works, Kenova, W. Va" and the other is a white sticker with blue printing giving the pattern name, the town where the original mold was made Milk glass items and the year of its origin.

The items in the photo at left are all milk glass "Lace and Dewdrop" pattern. I have an ad from a 1948 House and Garden magazine offering these items for sale - wish I could order now at those prices. The round tray in the center of the picture has a "tec" pattern on the bottom - too bad it has to be turned upside down to be seen.

As I said, Mr. Kemple marked his glass with a "K" or used paper labels for identification; but for Kemple collectors, his beautiful colors and workmanship say "Kemple" just as surely as either of the above.