A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Majolica Syrups

Majolica syrups are really the royalty of majolica pitchers.
They are far less common than pitchers and usually considerably more expensive. A majolica syrup will have a price much higher than a comparable sized pitcher by the same manufacturer.

In general there are two kinds of syrups: those that are specifically designed as syrups and those that are pitchers adapted and retrofitted as syrups.

Among the best known of those specifically designed as syrups are those made by the Etruscan Works of Pennsylvania. These designs were very popular at the time of their manufacture and continue to be popular among collectors today.


Of course other companies made these types of syrups as well.


The second type of syrup is more common than the first but every bit as collectible. These are pitchers converted to syrups by the company that potted it. These are often identical to the company's regular pitchers with one exception--they have holes near the rim to allow for the fitting of a lid. Occasionally you will see a beautiful pitcher in otherwise mint condition with two holes near the rim. These are pitchers potted as syrups that have lost their lids. They will have a lower value than either the fully fitted syrup or the comparable pitcher without the holes.

Other times pitchers would be retrofitted as syrups by a third party, sometimes with the consent of the potter, sometimes without the consent of the potter. These will often have awkward clasps or drilled holes near the handle to allow for the fitting of the pewter lid.
In all cases there should be some sort of thumb rest on the lid to allow for lifting of the lid.

If the thumb rest is missing or broken off the pewter lid it will affect the value of the piece.

Other things that will affect the value of a syrup will be staining and cracks, both of which are commonly seen on syrups.

The syrup shown above is a classic example of a stained syrup. The background was originally ivory with a green leaf on it, but molasses has stained the pottery a dark brown. It could be restored with cleaning.


Often referred to as molasses pitchers in company literature majolica syrups have retained their brilliant color and popularity 120 years after they were originally created. They truly are the royalty of majolica pitchers.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Majolica Animal Humidors

One of the hottest areas of collecting in majolica is in majolica animal humidors.
These charming pieces were made by several different companies on the European continent, largely in Germany, Austria, France and Czechoslovakia.  They were meant to be both useful and decorative with all of them allowing for the placement of a sponge in the lid to keep the tobacco moist.

In this economic downturn, it is one of the few areas in majolica that has not been dramatically impacted.

Where humidors were made in an endless variety of shapes and forms, the animals are the ones that have retained their popularity, particularly those of animals dressed as humans.

Some animals are more popular than others like cats, dogs, frogs and monkeys.

Then there are the oddities like alligators, rabbits and ducks.

The prices vary with rarity. Humidors with frogs and elephants are popular but common so price for these will retail around the $200-$300 mark. More unusual or particularly desirable humidors like some of the dogs and cats will sell in the $300-$400 range. Rare or large humidors like the hare or monkey will sell upwards of $700.
The head humidors tend to sell at lower prices than the full body animals averaging about $150-$250 unless they are particularly large like the pig head. Then they will command prices upwards of $400.