Friday, December 14, 2007

A SHORT HISTORY OF LADY HEAD VASES

A few people have asked me about these lady head vases I keep featuring on my site, so here is a
bit of information I have garnered over the years of collecting these beauties.

Head Vases were originally made to hold flower arrangements sold by florist's shops. Yes, they have
holes in the top of their heads and if they don't they are known to collector's as busts. There were
many manufactured to hang on the wall with a pocket in the back or a small pocket on the top and
today those are referred to as wall pockets.



A large portion of the vases you can buy today were imported from Japan in the early 1950's-70's.
World War II was over and a lot of ceramics were being brought into the U.S. and sold inexpensively
at neighborhood five-and-dime stores such as Woolworths. Oh to have a time machine and be able
to go back and buy a few hundred cases of these babies at 1950's prices!



I have seen copies of the original catalogs that the importers sold their ceramics through and many
of these vases could be purchased by the 6 or 12 pack for a few dollars. Today there are hundreds
of vases that sell upwards of $100-200. each and some of the rarer heads are topping the $10,000
mark!

Head Vases were made in thousands of styles and forms, but I have found that the most popular
vases are models of teenagers and sophisticated ladies. Collectors love the ladies with details--
hats, hands, dimensional eyelashes and jewelry are always popular and the larger ladies that
measure 7 inches and up seem to be in constant demand.



As time went on and manufacturing costs increased the size of head vases decreased and so did
the embellishments. The U.S. did produce some early headvases that are highly collectible today.
Betty Lou Nichols was a talented California artist that created some of the most sought after head
vases in the collecting world, as did Ceramic Arts Studio and Florence Ceramics.

There are several head vases that depict TV and movie personalities, such as the popular Jackie
Kennedy model, Lucille Ball, Grace Kelly, Mitzi Gaynor and Carmen Miranda to name just a few.




Many of the vases were also produced in sets and it is very challenging to try and complete a
set today. You can see some of the rarer heads being collected today and the jaw-dropping
prices they bring here

Maddy Gordon of New York has an amazing collection of lady head vases and I believe it is the
largest in the world at 3000+ vases. She has been featured on HGTV and you can see the photos
of her incredible collection and beautiful home here

Maddy also publishes and edits a newsletter for collectors called the Headhunters Newsletter that
is available 4 times a year for $26.00. If interested:

Newsletter
Attn: Maddy Gordon
P. O. Box 83H, Scarsdale, New York 10583.

Head Vase collecting today has become extremely popular and there is even a Head Vase
Convention that happens every January in Florida. Collectors come from all over the world to
view 4000+ head vases on display for sale and to meet with fellow enthusiasts for the weekend.
Information on the convention is also handled by Maddy Gordon at maddy.gordon@att.net

So now you know more than you ever wanted to about these highly collectible pieces of history.
Be on the lookout--you never know where they will pop up! I have come across lady head vases
at garage sales, estate sales, flea markets, basements, garages, attics, sheds and so on and so
forth. They are definitely harder to find than they used to be, but the search is part of the appeal
and you never know when you may stumble across that certain lady that is worth a small fortune!

2 comments:

Mapper said...

YOU ROCK! I ask, you answer, and you answer well! Thank you!
I am sooooo gonna keep my eye out for these in antiques stores now. And if I find any I will keep you in mind. (I can ship them with the cabbage! haha)
I know I have seen them before. I guess I can't remember if I have seen them in someone's home, (ie, grandparents etc.) or in an antique store.
This is very interesting. Thank you for taking the time to do this! You rock Kris.

pam

LadiesoftheHouse said...

Hey thanks Pam--nobody has ever told me I rock before! :-)

Kris