Kemple Covered Animal Dishes

by Grace Allison
Glass Review - April 1987

For the collector who is interested in the old patterns of milk white - or colored glass rather than the "old pieces" there is a very Kemple items charming contemporary collectible known as Kemple Glass, which was produced in the late 194Os and early 1950s in East Palestine, Ohio, and from the late 50s until 1970 in Kenova, West Virginia.

Company owner John E. Kemple was a staunch supporter of the theory that handmade glassware was better than glass produced by machine; consequently, the entire operation in the Kemple Glass Works, from its beginning during the summer of 1945 until Mr. Kemple's death in January, 1970, was definitely a hand process. As a result, within a few years after his death. Mr. Kemple's glass, made over old original moulds only, became a very popular collectible.

One category of Kemple Glass that has become particularly popular with collectors is the animal covered dish. John Kemple purchased the 5½" and 7½" size animal covered dish moulds from McKee Brothers Glass Company. Jeannette, PA. These moulds were created for McKee between 1870 and 1890. The horse, hen, rooster, lamb, turkey, cat, bobtail duck, dove and rabbit were the only small animal covered dishes made by Kemple and these have a split-rib pattern on their base. The 7½" animal covered dishes he made have a basket-weave base and include only the rooster, hen, fox, cow and lion.

Both the 5½" and 7½" size were made in milk white glass at East Palestine, Ohio, with the exception of the small and large hen, which were also made in blue milk glass. The 1952 and 1953 East Palestine catalogs of Kemple Glass illustrated all of the two sizes of animal covered dishes in milk white glass.

Later, at Kenova, WV, Kemple not only made these animal covered dishes in milk white, but also in blue, amber, green, amethyst and amberina glass and opaque aqua blue, end-of-day and West Virginia Centennial red, which was developed especially for the 1963 centennial of that state.

Kemple items Kemple also made a covered dish in the shape of a dolphin. The dolphin was originally made by Indiana Tumbler and Goblet Works, Greentown, IN, and was introduced at the Buffalo Exposition in May, 1901. The Greentown factory burned in 1903 and the dolphin was not made again until Mr. Kemple acquired the mould around 1951.

This dolphin is a very unusual and conversational piece of glass, made with a lid that has a small fish atop it. The dolphin was intended to be used as a shrimp cocktail server.

Mr. Kemple produced his dolphin in the early 50s in a milk glass and a few pieces of the blue milk glass; in the late S0's and the 60's he also made it in the various colors of glass that he made at his Kenova factory.

One interesting fact concerns the split-rib and basket-weave bases of the covered animal dishes. If the base does not have the Kemple trademark - "K" it may still be a "Kemple" if the rib or basket weave design does not completely cover the bottom side of the dish. That is, if the design is not carried all the way through to the central point of the underside of the base it is a Kemple.

Also, the collector should realize it is not possible to definitely state all the colors in which each animal covered dish was produced; for, often a mould might be tried in a specific color and after a few pieces were run it might be found unprofitable to continue the production of that particular mould in that particular color. Yet those few pieces that were made did eventually get out into the collectors market.

Happy Kemple hunting!