Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Famous Ohio Indians glasses

Cornstalk, Little Turtle, Pontiac, Logan
In a recent post, I told you all about some Ohio Presidential glassware. This time it’s Ohio Indian glassware featuring Famous Ohio Indians: Blue Jacket, The Prophet, Tecumseh and Cornstalk (all Shawnee), White Eyes (Delaware), Little Turtle (Miami), Chief Logan (Mingo), and Pontiac (Ottawa). Each painted glass is 16 ounces and measures 6 1/2" tall and 2 3/4" across. It's clear that no attempt was made to resemble the person they are depicting. These are generic looking Indians but at least they appear to be an attempt at an Eastern Woodland look. In other words, there are no big Plains Indian war bonnets. I'll give them points for that.

very rare original box sighting
A funny coincidence. Eight Ohio Presidents, eight Ohio Indians. Both are also kind of loose with the "from". For example, of the Ohio Presidents, WH Harrison was born in VA but lived much of his adult life in Indiana. He ran for POTUS with his home state as Ohio and served in government there. Ohio and VA both claim him. For Grandson Ben, he was born in Ohio but served the state of Indiana and that state was his home state when he ran for President. Ohio and Indiana claim him. Grant was born in Ohio but lived most of his life elsewhere and Illinois was his home state. Ohio and Illinois claim him. You get the idea...

White Eyes, Tecumseh, The Prophet, Blue Jacket
Exact Indian birthplaces from that time period are hard to determine in many cases. Pontiac was likely born in MI although some think it was Defiance Ohio. Little Turtle was likely born in Indiana. Cornstalk and White Eyes, probably PA by birth. Logan was born somewhere East of Ohio, maybe WV. Most historians agree that the Shawnee Indians Blue Jacket, Tecumseh, and The Prophet were all born in Ohio. Regardless of those details, important aspects of all their legacies are tied to Ohio in some manner.

Oh, my. Here am debating the historical accuracy of frosted glass tumblers!

Blue Jacket
I'd originally seen an entire set at a local antique mall for $45 and I was kicking myself for passing it up. I ended up cobbling together my eight-piece set as individual purchases and Christmas gifts over a year or so. I certainly paid more than $45. Lesson learned

The set is from the late 1950s or early 1960s (I've never determined exact years) and was promoted by Bonded Oil. One glass was awarded for every $2.50 in gas purchased. Gas was about 25 cents a gallon then, but before you get too nostalgic on the gas price, keep in mind that with inflation that would be $2.10 a gallon in 2017 money. So roughly the same. I guess this was sort of like Kroger Fuel Points in reverse.

White Eyes
Unlike the Ohio President glasses, I’ve never been able to determine who made this series. A seller on eBay said Hazel-Atlas but that company had a distinct marking that I have not seen here. But as I’ve mentioned before, Ohio was one of the world’s leading glass producers so it’s pretty safe to say that given the context, they were made in Ohio.

I found a mention online that indicated that the art itself was done by Indian artist Acee Blue Eagle. The font in the heading is even the same as another collection he is known to have designed. That was an exciting development! However, I was able to quickly debunk that theory. I saw another article online that first appeared in an antique magazine in 1991. That person makes a good case that Blue Eagle had nothing to do with the Ohio glasses. They ARE very similar to a set of Oklahoma Indian glasses he painted and released in 1959 for a similar promotion by Knox Oil, but having been well known at the time, his artwork would have incorporated his name. The Ohio glasses are likely just a copycat design by another gas station chain capitalizing on mid-century America's Indian nostalgia thanks to movie Westerns and TV shows like The Lone Ranger.

Pitcher and original box - on my wishlist
There is also a 2-quart pitcher that goes with the set. I don’t have one and have never seen one in person. They show up on eBay from time to time. I'm hoping one shows up under my Christmas tree this year.
"c. Bonded" marking
For a while, I speculated that the pitcher was not really part of the set as it doesn’t have “Famous Ohio Indians” on it and also does not have “c. Bonded Oil Co.” anywhere like the glasses do. The artwork is even a bit different. However, I found that the original box with those words is printed on it. So the pitcher is definitely part of this set. Supposedly the pitcher was the bonus after you collected all eight glasses.

Now for a couple of unsolved mysteries.

4 smaller glasses - also on the wishlist
I've seen 4 smaller 4 3/4 oz glasses being sold sometimes with the pitcher and the eight large glasses which are: Little Jumping Rabbit, Princess Little Fawn, Little Princess Red Wing, Little Running Bear. These are all just generic names and cartoonish compared to the full-size glasses. None of them have a tribe listed or a mention of Ohio. I'm not really sure if they really go with this series or not but they do have “c. Bonded Oil Co.” on them and as far as I know, this is the only promotion like this that Bonded issued. They seem to be hard to find.

There may have even been a metal rack for the eight glasses but I've only seen one mention of that anywhere.

the lone Pontiac mystery glass
During my research, I discovered another oddity. Besides the eight glasses, there is a ninth “bonus” glass with the heading “Famous Ohio Indian” (note the singular), and “Pontiac/The Red Napoleon” at the bottom with a depiction of this chief but no tribal affiliation. It doesn’t have “c. Bonded Oil Co.” on it either. I’m not sure what the story is here. It's not the same artwork as the Pontiac in the full set but overall is similar in design. Perhaps it was prototype before the whole series was made? If so, I'm not sure why they would choose Pontiac. Tecumseh would be more "Ohio" than the others. This  Ottawa leader was active in Ohio but his birthplace is open for debate and most historians think he was born in Michigan where his famous rebellion occurred. Maybe it was because of the Pontiac car and these were gas station giveaways?   I have no idea and I was unable to find any more information.  I did, however, find one on eBay and snapped up this outlier for $13!

It’s one of my favorite glass collections. They are beautiful to look at and the set represents American Indians in the Ohio Valley from a time period I fell in love with many years ago.