Ladies Head Vases
Ladies Head Vases of the 40s and 50s
I got my first Ladies Head Vase when I was 10 years old. It was a gift from my Aunt Pauline. I loved it. Over the years I put small flowers in it, pencils, and air fern. My Aunt Pauline added to my lady with two more vases. Each time I look at them, I have fond memories of my Aunt and plan in the future to pass them on to my granddaughters. Since I only have three, I will have to go shopping for the fourth one so I will have two each to give.
Headvases Being Fraudulently Sold As Vintage
Collecting these vases required some study as there are frauds being pasted of as antiques. There are books sold that give you detail descriptions about each lady and when they were produced and what possible stamp may be registered on the vase.
History of Lady Head Vases
Lady Head vases, originally designed for use by florists, are popular collectibles.
Vases in the shape of beautiful and famous women, popular in the 1940s, '50s, '60s and '70s, are once again finding favor with collectors. From Jackie Kennedy to little sister, these vases are available and affordable, ranging in prices from $35 to $3,000, depending on condition, rarity and appeal.
Lady Head Vases from 1940-1970
Beautiful women and flowers go together like June and brides, and florists were happy to accommodate with the sale of bouquets in specially made semi-porcelain vases in the shape of the head of a lovely woman. These vases were introduced in the 1940s and discontinued in the 1970s when the trend had not only run its course, but florists began to find them too small for most flower arrangements.
Matte or Glossy and Made in Japan
The ladies came in a gloss glaze or a matte finish semi-porcelain. Some are stamped with impressed or embossed marks on the bottom, but many came with paper labels that are no longer in place. Unlike many collectibles, the lack of a manufacturers mark does not much affect value. One reason for this is that the items are of recent enough vintage that they have been fairly well documented. A well informed collector can identify the make by looking at the piece. The vases came in a variety of sizes from four to seven inches, and as a general rule, the larger sizes are more valuable depending of course, on condition and rarity.
The Look, Not the Label
Unlike other collectibles, desirability stems more from the looks and condition of the piece than the name of the manufacturer. A large number of these were made in Japan and distributed in this country by American companies, but a few US manufacturers produced the ladies as well. Japanese manufacturers included Inarco, Enesco, Napco, Lefton, Relpo, and Reubens. Lady Head vases were made in America by Henry Holt, Betty Lou Nichols, and, rarely, Shawnee. These American-made vases tend to bring higher prices because of higher quality manufacture. And as Henry Holt is a fairly hot collecting category of its own, his lady heads have crossover appeal, and tend to bring higher sums.
Lady Head Vases of the 1950s
Dressed in period styles of the day, including hats and necklines, lady heads of the '50s make up the bulk of available models, which may be as many as 1,000 different ladies! These lovely ladies are beautifully done up with elaborate eye makeup and hairstyles and beautifully lipsticked cupids-bow mouths. They have eyelashes to-die-for, some with open eyes, and sometimes demurely dropped. Some of the vases include hands (frequently gloves) and applied decoration in the form of necklaces and earrings. Value is highest where all the original accessories are intact, and protruding hands, lashes, bows, hats and curls are undamaged.
Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball & Mary Poppins
The vases were made in the likenesses of popular movie characters and celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball and Jackie Kennedy. Jackie is dressed in mourning clothes with a black gloved hand wiping away a tear. Marilyn brings the highest price, again partly due to crossover appeal. It is a rule of the collectibles marketplace that the greater number of collectors (in this case Marilyn, Hollywood, Movies, and Lady Heads) the higher the price. Marilyn has brought as much as $3,000. Jackie goes for $600 to $800, and Lucille Ball brings between $500 and $900. According to the Kovels, a Mary Poppins lady head vase recently sold at an antique show for $475.
Something special for yourself?
Lady Head Vases sold in the 1950 - 1960s. They were made of a semi-porcelain and most were made in Japan. Sold in flower shops, a lucky recipient was most likely to receive one that matched her hair color. They were beautifully painted with make-up and showing painted nails. Many came with dangling earrings of pearl or crystal with matching necklace. There were many who reflected the stars of that time: Marilyn Monroe, Carmen Miranda, Hedy Lamarr and Liz Taylor.
Link Along With Me. - HEADS UP!
Some say there were over 10 thousand designs. Figurine collectibles including Napco, Enesco, Inarco, Lefton, Relpo, and Reubens - Japanese brands. American made Lady Head Vases were made by Betty Lou Nichols, Henry Holt and sometimes Shawnee.
But as with all collectibles it's important to collect what you love. Expect to pay between $25-$600 for a head vase.
- Antique Head Vases
Bonnie Jean Wood One of the best collections I've seen. Check out her "about me" on the site listed above.
Another great source for our ladies.
- Ladies of the House
More, more and more good resources
More Antiques and Collectibles.
- Worth Point
Premier website for antiques and collectibles
Great on-line source for collectibles
Excellent site with various lady head vase collection (newer collection).
- Fashion History
This is a fun site of Fashion History. Enjoy!.
- The Love of Vintage
Great blog with pics - lady head vases
RELPO K937A Vintage Vase with Roses
Lady with Pageboy Hair and Hat
Old Woman Wall Pocket - Vintage - so different
I've never seen anything quite like this one. I love the story her face tells - the wrinkles, the life.
Why not make your daughter or niece a happy receiver of a collectible. There are so many possibilities: Heads, dolls, miniture books, or shoes, or tea set; doll funiture, cup/saucer, trinket box, thimble, etc.? Make it special by writing in the gift card a history description of the item.
A Special Birthday Gift
Made in 1958
The lady vase below was one of the gifts from my Aunt when I was about 10 years old. She still has her original neckless and earrings. I treasure it every time I look at it. I believe when I received it, it had artificial flowers in it. It is still in excellent condition. It is one of only a few things I have left from my childhood.
You Ought To Be In Movies!
Napco #3636 Ladies Head Vase (Cir. 1956)
Very similar to mine above. I love the lashes and lipstick and the bow around her hat.