Hobnail Dishes – Guest Post

Cup and saucer from an entire set of hobnail dishes. The name comes from the pattern of raised knobs on the surface of the glass, similar to the studs used on boot soles in the time period. It became popular after the depression and is most often seen in milk glass. However, it was available in colors as well as clear.

This story is from my father-in-law, Don. When he was in high school, he took 2 years of Latin — considered important if you were going to college — and he belonged to a Latin club. The club used to meet in the evenings at each other’s houses. They didn’t speak Latin at these meetings, rather they were social events encouraged by the teacher.

An aside: My mother-in-law took Latin also, same school as Don. She didn’t like Latin and the teacher, whom she remembers as old, called her “a nice girl” which for some reason hurt her feelings. She went home and cried about it. She attended the same high school as Don but at the time of the Latin classes, she was dating Don’s best friend.

In any case, at these parties Don noticed that all the mothers had complete sets of dishes. Eventually it was going to be his turn to host, and his mother’s dishes were a melange from several sets. (She, by the way, had taken Latin and remembered one phrase — Ubi est agricola, where is the farmer — and used to say it to him all the time.)

Before the club met at his house, Don bought his mother a complete set of these dishes. What a win/win situation! His mother felt loved by her son. And his friends saw that he had matching dishes in his house, just like in their houses.

His daughter, my wonderful sister-in-law, now has the set in her china cabinet. It was given to her by her grandmother, who told her she had set them aside specifically for her. The set is no longer complete; the glass tends to chip. She uses one of the saucers as a soap dish (shades of the bone dish, also hers).


  1. Denise says:

    I love how you photographed some of the circles of light that shine through the glass in the bottom left-hand corner. I will store a copy of this blog with the dishes so the story doesn’t get forgotten. Thank you!

    P.S. I had no idea Nana could say “Where is the farmer” in Latin.

  2. You do take good photos of objects. I’m usually so interested in the objects, I forget to appreciate the photos. I always love the stories too!

    • Terri says:

      Thanks Linda. I’m always glad to see you here. And your compliment means a lot considering it comes from a real artist!

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