Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lady Head Vases and Hell in a Handbag

First, what a great week for presents in the mail! Not only did I get a lovely letter from my Sgt, but today, I received the 400 follower giveaway prize that I won from Syd over at Golden Girl of the West.


The Mexican souvenir basket purse is so perfect for toting around all my gear this summer and I'm happily adding it to my collection of other woven souvenir purses. Now how about that lovely lady?? This will be my very first lady head "anything" and as you can see it's a lipstick holder! I've always loved lady head vases but I've never allowed myself to start collecting them because I already collect so many things. But if I was to win Syd's giveaway, well then it would be like fate telling me it's time to start collecting lady head vases. So, I really, really wanted to win Syd's giveaway! Way to go fate!!!! So thank you Syd, I look forward to finding this lady some new friends!



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.


Those above are the classic lady head vases. But I also wanted to show what artist Erin Tinney, from Hell in a Handbag is doing with hers! I'm absolutely in love with her work! I could definitely collect a few of these!




I know, now you want one too! See, didn't I tell you...collecting lady head vases is addicting. Once you get one, you have to get another! It's like a disease or something. :) And look at me....happily spreading the disease around!

Check out Hell in a Handbag on:


  1. wow! I love those too! Thanks for sharing.

  2. i have one gold plated lady head on my vanity. I love her, so gracious. But the Hell in a Handbag - OH LORDIE, Myrtle, I love those!!!

  3. Fabulous purse! Lovely for summer. I love the lady head vase with the swallow tat! Gorgeous.
    Marie @ Lemondrop ViNtAge

  4. Glad your presents safely arrived! I love the lady head in the last pic, very cute!


  5. The customised lady head vases are so cool!! I'm still searching for my first lady head vase. At the moment I spend all my money on clothes. Haha. ;]
    -Andi x

  6. Thank you so much for this post, Ma'am (sorry, it's a military thing)!! I'm gonna see if I can have one of Jillian made so I can bring it with me to Afghanistan later this year.


  7. Erin Tinney is fabulous, I love her work too! Also, I work at (the ebay for Goodwill) and we get vintage head vases all the time, and sometimes, in perfect condition and they go for $10 or more, but never over $60! How crazy is that. I am ready now more than ever to start my collection!