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Cream Pitcher People - A Collection

Updated on November 27, 2017
Nana's Cream Pitcher-- the one that started it all.
Nana's Cream Pitcher-- the one that started it all. | Source

People Are Like Pitchers

They come in different sizes , colors and shapes. They might be attractive or homely, elegant or plain. They can also be helpful, practical and useful, no matter what their style.

Both pitchers and people are often defined by what is inside of them, and by what pours from their lips.

I didn't intend to start a pitcher collection. I'm not really a collector of "things". It started when I was about 12 years old while with my grandmother who was sorting through some boxes she had stored away.

She was deciding what she should keep and what she should get rid of because she was moving into a small apartment.

She pulled out a white cream pitcher with scalloped edges that was decorated with petite nosegays of pale pink flowers. I admired it and she gave it to me.

I kept it on a shelf in my room in a small bowl that reminded me of the old-fashioned pitcher and basin of the Victorian era. Nana, born in the last of that era, had a whole set of the fancy dishes, though I don't really remember her using them.

My grandparents didn't have a lot of fancy belongings. They moved often and had minimal possessions of any kind. The generous, old-fashioned pitcher still reminds me of her.

My oldest pitcher.
My oldest pitcher. | Source

My oldest pitcher has an even longer family history.

Made in Poland in about 1817, it traveled with my mother's ancestors through Russia, Germany, Brazil and the USA.

It belonged to the family of my great grandmother, who took the same trip as the pitcher.

She was born in 1844, so it probably belonged to her mother.

It is about four and a half inches high and three inches in diameter. It is a thick-walled stoneware with a muddy gray glaze and a hefty handle.

It was made with a quality of lasting sturdiness that took precedence over esthetics or ergonomics.

It is obviously hand made, with a crude decoration scratched into the clay.

A homely piece of folk art, it apparently survived many hard times and many travels in making its way from a peasant's home in Europe to a modern house in California.

It sits unabashedly among finer, thinner, more elegant pitchers, and says much about the hardy, humble roots of my family.

Grandma D's Cream Pitcher


I also have a cream pitcher from my maternal grandmother.

It is one of my favorites because of its sunny color with the detailed and serene landscape scene. The tiny cottage appears to have a thatch roof like those typical to the countryside of northern Europe.

On the bottom it says "Hand Painted in Japan" and dates back to sometime in the 1920s, I think.

I never really knew this grandma, since she died when I was just a little over a year old. She was relatively young, only in her fifties, and I know that her passing was a very great loss for my mom.

Everyone who ever knew her talked about her kindness and generosity of spirit. For me, the peaceful scene is a connection to her spirit.

The little clear glass pitcher, marked with a coat of arms, stenciled on it does not have the strong family connection that some of the others do, but is does bring a family story to mind.

The incident occurred when my parents were traveling in Yugoslavia. American tourists were rather rare in that country at that time, and hotel personnel were apparently not aware of the peculiar custom of some tourists who like to enjoy a mixed drink with ice in it. Dad politely asked if room service could bring some ice to their room so they could enjoy a cocktail.

Mom said the ice, which arrived in this tiny pitcher (barely four inches tall) looked like it had been scraped off of someone's roof.

She kept the pitcher and later gave it to me. I suppose I could be prosecuted for receiving stolen goods, but since Yugoslavia has now been broken into several countries, I'm not sure where to return it.

From The Colony Glassblower

Made in Jamestown Virginia about 40 years ago, while we watched.
Made in Jamestown Virginia about 40 years ago, while we watched. | Source

In Jamestown Virginia, we watched the glass blower make bottles and jars, and little cream pitchers out of green-tinted glass.

Glassmaking was an early industry in the old colony of Virginia, and the costumed re-enactors, plied the old trade of bottle making in the old manner, to show the tourists how it was done.

I still have my little pale green pitcher that looks as if it might have been made in the days of the old colony.


The three graceful Rosenthal pitchers were brought from Germany by my husband's cousins . They probably cost more than all of the others I have. Two are plain white and the other has a flower pattern.

Apparently someone told her that I collected such things, and she gave them to me as a gift when they came to visit us in California.

Mom painted the little flower-bud pitchers in a ceramics class she took. She always carved her name or initials and the date on the pieces she made.

all photos by R. Frank
all photos by R. Frank

I have other pitchers. My aunt's milk glass cream pitcher were given to me by my cousin after her mom passed away. It is carefully cast with a rigid and geometrically regular pattern. It hold a generous cup of cream.

She collected pieces of this kind of glass-- though I always thought of it as being not at all like the creative, imaginative and somewhat disorderly woman she was.


My newest pitcher is not part of my collection. I don't have a personal attachment to it in the way that I do to some of the others.

Maybe because it is harder for me to be fond of plastic things.

It is useful, however. It filters water and has made it possible to stop throwing away tons of little plastic bottles.

It has its own simple elegance, but not the personal memory attachment that the others have.

Some people are like lemonade pitchers that bring cooling refreshment when you are are thirsty and exhausted.

Some are like wine jugs that add a friendly and comfortable ambience to a sociable meal.

Some can be vinegar cruets that usually pour forth a sharp sour piquancy that can only be taken in small doses.

Then there are the cream pitchers that add a rich smooth sweetness in just the right quantity. Most of my pitchers are cream pitchers.

Each pitcher and each person has a history of where they came from, what made them the way they are, and in what ways they are best suited to serve.

Each pitcher and every person seems to have a particular personality. Some are multi-functional, pouring out different moods or tastes at various times.

Some are plain, some fussy. They can be transparent, or elegant; fragile or hefty.

Some of them are a little cracked or crazed.

Some are plastic.

If you are a spider, avoid this pitcherplant.


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    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 6 months ago from California Gold Country

      Thank you, k@ri. I haven't read this for a long time and I can see it needs some editing. Photos should be updated, too. I did this before I had a camera -- took photos with the photobooth app on my old desktop.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 6 months ago from Ohio

      I enjoyed this very much. Especially in the end when you compare the different pitchers to people. Somehow it gave me shivers when you described to cream pitcher people. I am blessed to know many of this type.

    • mslizzee profile image

      elizabeth 16 months ago from Buncombe County, NC

      Very sweet and nostalgic.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 2 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thank you, peachpurple. The best collections have good memories attached.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      those are beautiful pitchers. We have teapots, love to drink chinese teas

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 4 years ago from California Gold Country

      Hi, Nan.

      I have many fond and positive memories of your parents, I do treasure the gift. Thanks for commenting on the article.

    • profile image

      Nannette 4 years ago

      I just read your story of our family pitchers. Since you have show them to me and I knew and love the people I was very touched. I treasure your insights of my Mother she was all those things. Thank you for helping me to remember.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country

      I don't have it, honest. But at least it has been restored in your memory. I think another reason I like mine, is that they are always associated with rich and pleasant memories.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Another forgotten piece of my childhood brought back to memory! We had milk delivery in glass bottles with a cardboard cap. The cream would rise to the top and Mom would pour it off into her little cream pitcher. I wonder whatever became of it?

      Good Hub!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country

      Even though that one is not 'officially' part of my collection, it is very useful. You are very generous with your comments. Peggy W, thanks so much.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thank you, J Burgraff. They would not hold neary as much meaning without their stories.

    • J Burgraff profile image

      J Burgraff 6 years ago

      I liked your stories and how the pitchers served not only to hold liquids but as a vehicle for those stories.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I enjoyed the history and photos of the pitchers in your possession. We have that same plastic kind (Brita) in our refrigerator saving hundreds of the plastic ones when drinking water. Thanks for this journey down your memory lane. I too have many things passed down from both sides of my family. I really liked those ones your mother painted! Interesting vote and will SHARE with my followers.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thank you, Lynette. Maybe I will take a 'family' photo.

    • profile image

      Lynette 6 years ago

      These pitchers are gorgeous. I'd love to see photos of your display a number of pitchers together. Thanks.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thank you, mactavers. When I come across an old object, it's fun to imagine who might have used it, but in these cases -- yes, it is about the real memories.

      I'm glad you chose to read this one.

    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 7 years ago

      I love this Hub, it's not usually about things as things, but in all the history and memories objects from family and things can bring to the collector.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

      How's your pitcher hub coming? I'm still waiting to hear.

    • cjcarter profile image

      cjcarter 8 years ago

      Now there's a fun idea! She's starting to collect quite a lot of them now. If I do hub the collection, I'll let you know.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thanks cjcarter. I hope she enjoys it-- let me know what she thinks. Maybe you can hub her collection.

    • cjcarter profile image

      cjcarter 9 years ago

      My mother collects pitchers! Ill have to show her your hub!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 9 years ago from California Gold Country

      That's OK I deleted the extra one.

      Actually I have no clue to your question, as I am not an expert in this.

      All I can suggest is a google search-- and you have probably done that. If you have a nearby antique dealer they might have a reference book. Good Luck.

    • profile image

      REBECCA ARVIN 9 years ago



    • profile image

      REBECCA ARVIN 9 years ago


    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 9 years ago from California Gold Country

      I'll bet you see an occasional treasure or two. I'm not sure what it is that attracts me to pitchers-- I guess I like for things to be practical and functional as well as attractive.

    • Paper Moon profile image

      Paper Moon 9 years ago from In the clouds

      I run a huge (and clean) thrift store. I have gotten rosenthall pitchers in before. I love them. I enjoyed reading this. Thank you.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thank you so much Mindfield.

      Yes, my mom was exceptionally attractive as well as having other wonderful personality and mental attributes.

      She also had a great womanly figure. My sister and I always thought we took more after Dad in the figure department.

       So nice of you to comment so kindly.

    • MindField profile image

      MindField 9 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Dear Rochelle,

      You've touched me deeply with this essay. I cried while reading it. Your mom is so beautiful in the photo. (Were women just more beautiful then or were you and I lucky to have sensationally attractive mothers?) Thank you for giving me lovely thoughts to sleep on.


    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thnks, RGraf, it's the connection that gives each its meaning.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 9 years ago from Wisconsin

      These are beautiful. What a great thing to collect. Especially when you can know some of the history.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Maybe the day will come when we pass them down to another generation. Thanks for reading.

    • MissJamieD profile image

      MissJamieD 9 years ago from Minnes-O-ta

      I love this hub! I have only recently become infatuated with antiques and these are wonderful. My grandmother collected pitchers with the matching bowls, from across the country. It wasn't a huge collection, but she also gave them to me as she was going through her things to move. I thought that was a very interesting story that we share. Two totally different people, but two very identical, sweet stories.

      Thanks for sharing:)


    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thank you Jerilee and Sally.

      Yes, I like my pitchers because they are connected to people-- sometimes people suggest that I should acquire a certain pitcher because they think I collect them just for themselves and their own 'pitcherness'.

      I am not trying to amass a large quantiy of any particular thing... it is more about the personal connections.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 9 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      What a delight to read. Now, even the plastic pitcher will have its own story going forward, when you talk about how it made such a contrast to the other pitchers featured in your Hub. I got a kick out of the amazon capsule sort of substituting for a photograph. It took me pleasantly by surprise.

      I am not a collector of anything in particular, but I like having old things around me, precisely because they speak of a time gone by. Although they tell their stories without too much trouble, hearing them is not always that easy. You heard, and you shared. Thank you.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 9 years ago from United States

      Loved learning about the different pitchers in your collection mixed with a glimpse into a rich family history.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thanks, marpyd.

    • profile image

      marphyd 9 years ago

      nice collections

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Transparent is good-- you can see what's in there.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 9 years ago from Ohio

      I love how you compare differnent types of pitchers to people!! I have been accused of being transparent! Great hub, thanks for the understanding!!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Oh no!! I forgot about that... I'm going to have to add to this.

    • Glenn Frank profile image

      Glenn Frank 9 years ago from Southern California

      a pitcher is worth a thousand words I hear...

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Well--- How nice to have comments from three of my most favorite HubFriends. I don't expect this hub to have a big following. It's not sexy, religious, sensational or contoversial. It is something I like to share with visitors to my home, so that is good enough.

      Dineane, thanks. It's like having a pitcher show.

      Donna-- I just recently got my digital camera-- a rather modest one, but I still haven't mastered all of the details. Even if you are cracked or crazed, you still manafe to pour out some interesting tales.

      Teresa-- where have you been? I thought you were here 24 hours a day. Kooky? OK, maybe I'm the cracked vessel. Thanks for your compliments.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image

      Sheila 9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      Yup. I'm cracked. Loved this -- kooky and charming, which is what I've come to expect from your hubs, always a pleasure to read and reread. Thanks!

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 9 years ago from Central North Carolina

      I love how you used your pitcher collection to write about some of your family history. Beautifully done. I guess if Iwas a pitcher I'd be cracked or crazed.

    • dineane profile image

      dineane 9 years ago from North Carolina

      Nice hub, Rochelle! I enjoyed your pitcher stories!


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