Welcome to blog post three in our six-part series on collecting vintage Christmas. Today I am sharing some of my favorite Christmas head vases and planters from the 1950s-1960s along with some tips towards the end of this post on collecting head vases and cleaning your precious items.
If you’ve been reading my blog and following me for some time then you know I am obsessed and you can say addicted to vintage kitschy mid-century goodies but, I am especially crazy4 vintage Christmas!! I started collecting vintage Christmas head vases and planters with this adorable little skater girl (above) wearing a bright red skater outfit, gold antlers on her head and a sleigh filled with presents and candy cane runners. This planter was made by Rubens in the 1950s and most likely in Japan as that is where the majority of ceramic production was taking place. I found this planter so adorable and charming and so a collection started.
One of my most favorite head vases is this vintage glamorous lady with her beautiful red bonnet decorated with green holly and tied with a polka dot bow, she has the most amazing eyelashes t and is made by Inarco! Another of my treasures is this I Love Lucy vintage Christmas head vase made by Napco in1961. Napco’s I Love Lucy gets her name from the popular television actress at the time Lucille Ball as she a similar hairstyle and features; she also comes in a few different outfit colors and with pearl earrings and necklaces but the Christmas versions has gold star earrings, red outfit, green hat and red polka dot bow.
Head vases were made in a variety of designs in the 1940s -1960s. But it was the elegant, fashion-model look “Glamour Girl” that quickly became among the most popular. These head vases have hand-painted features, 3-dimensional thick black eyelashes, ruby red lips, fancy hats, pearl necklaces and matching earrings, painted fingernails, or gloved hands, and hands that would frame one side of the face. Sizes can range from approx. 3 ¾” inches to 8” inches tall. Many came with small floral arrangements and over time people would put pants inside them. Glamorous movie stars and fashion models inspired many of the designs of the era; Jackie O, Lucile Ball, and Marilyn Monroe all had head vases modeled after their likeness. There are also Christmas themed vases like the ones in today’s post that feature pretty ladies and girls in holiday splendor with lots of red and green colors and decorated with poinsettias and holly berries.
Here are some planters from my collection. These lovely vintage Christmas ice skater girl planters, both made by Relpo. The sweet cupcake candy cane couple is also by Relpo and has the very early Relpo label.
These pretty vintage Christmas girl planters were made by Napco in the 1950s. One holds a lovely ornament and the other a present.
Here are a few more charming pretty ladies.
As mentioned in my previous posts in this series, prices for vintage Christmas items have really skyrocketed this year. You can expect to pay $75+ and upwards of $350+ for the rare and hard to find ones. Platforms like Etsy and Ebay are still great for seeking out these vintage treasures but more and more often these days the power of social media is proving to be a wonderful source for collectors so if you are not already on Facebook and part of the vintage collector groups (there are several collector groups on Facebook where you can meet other collectors and see their collections, share pictures of your collections and buy/sell items as well) Instagram too is a must these days and searching under the hashtag #vintagechristmas will bring up hundreds of photos and soon you will start following collectors and they do sell their items too!!
6 Tips for Collecting Head Vases
- As with any vintage collectible, condition is really everything. If your item is a glamour girl then you’ll want to make sure her eyelashes are not broken or chipped and all her jewelry (earrings and necklace) are intact and present.
- Makers that hold their value: Napco, Lefton, Reubens, Inarco, Enesco, Betty Lou Nichols, Relpo, Norleans, Parma. Tags and stamps should be intact.
- Broken fingers: For head vases that have hands and fingers, make sure they are all intact and not broken.
- Holiday vases with flowers, hats, poinsettias, holly, ornaments, and any embellishments, you’ll want to check the item over to ensure not too much cold paint wear is present and that chips and dings are minimal.
- Planters: Look inside and on the underside for cracks.
- Crazing: This is actually quite common in true vintage items. What causes crazing is tension on the glaze during the glazing process. While crazing is acceptable by most collectors, the issue arises when the crazing has darkened and dark lines are visible on the item.
Cleaning your treasures:
Many of these vintage items have cold paint and that means the paint was applied prior to the item being kiln fired and there is no glaze. The downside to cold paint is that it flakes off over the years, so be extremely gentle with your item when cleaning it and only use a soft cloth with a bit of warm water and do not scrub or the paint will flake right off. Be cautious!! If your item already has evidence of flaking paint, then lightly dust it and leave it alone….. You’ll be very sad if you clean too much and the paint comes off.
If your item has a rich shiny glaze, still be extremely gentle but you can use mild dish soap, warm water and a soft cloth to clean it especially if your item was used for holding plants or has residue/dirt inside. If the item has very tough residues, you can dilute some white vinegar and clean with that.
I keep my vintage Christmas head vases and planters in my cabinet where I can admire them year round and appreciate their vintage charm!!
Upcoming Vintage Christmas Collecting Series:
- Collecting vintage NOEL Christmas candleholders, figurines, and bells – November 27, 2020
- Vintage Holt-Howard Christmas collectibles – December 4, 2020
- Pretty Ladies – Vintage Christmas Head Vases and Planters – December 11, 2020
- Collecting vintage Christmas angels – December 18, 2020
- Have yourself a Mid-Mod Christmas – December 24, 2020
- Collecting vintage Christmas year-round – January 2, 2021