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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

George Jones Cheese Domes

Many manufacturers made cheese bells but those of the Jones pottery are something special. The designs are elegant, the colors vibrant and the subjects pastoral. My favorite cheese dome design is a GJ creation, his waterlily and dragonfly pattern.

This pattern was made in both low and tall sizes like most GJ domes as well as with a couple of different handle treatments, the traditional waterlily blossom, and a rarer version with a kingfisher handle. Like all of the GJ domes it was also made in several colors.

Another dome made with different handles is this large piece with shells, leaves and a snake handle.

It was also made with this unusual goat handle.

One of the most easily found GJ cheese domes is this cow and acanthus leaf design. It was the first GJ dome I ever owned and still one of the simplest and loveliest in design. It is part of a large series  including plates, butter dishes and a sardine box.

This same cow handle was used on the Jones Calla lily bell, part of the larger rare Calla lily series.

A GJ dome pattern found frequently is the apple blossom pattern, also part of a larger series.

Another commonly found dome is the fence and vine pattern.

An unusual cheese dome pattern made by the company is the thatched bee skip cheese keeper in two sizes. It is beautiful and very rare. It is also one of the most valuable GJ cheese keepers.

Probably the most famous of the GJ cheese stands is the fence and daisy design. Although it's certainly a pretty design I've never really understood its fame or the unusually high prices this one commands. Perhaps it has something to do with this over-the-top description in the Katz-Marks' books:

"For those who love George Jones Majolica (I never met a collector who did not like the work of this pottery), this stupendous cheese keeper will be the centerpiece of the collection. The cobalt blue background is particularly effective. Everything about this large and beautiful piece is ideal."--The Collector's Encyclopedia of Majolica.

Ms Marks' books were the first and most influential contemporary majolica identification guides available to the majolica collector. As such they were very influential in the early development of the retail majolica market. This piece certainly wouldn't be the first design to benefit from Ms. Katz-Marks' enthusiasm. Over time they've been replaced by newer, more attractive references which has caused their influence on the market to decrease. Perhaps this may explain why the fence and daisy cheese stand in the recent Strawser Auction failed to reach its reserve.

George Jones also made cheese domes in a number of other patterns, all of them beautiful.

Like everything else, there are reproductions of GJ cheese bells on the market. None of them are very good. Here are a few below.


  1. We have a Majolica Dog Rose Cheese Bell, any idea of it's value ?

    1. I'm not sure which cheese keeper you're referring to. Is it the one shown here in both brown and turquoise?

  2. I have an early George Jones pitcher that stands approximately 6 ½” high and is about 3 ½” in diameter. There are no markings on the bottom but the piece is clearly the work of George Jones.

    The pitcher has a handle that represents a branch from a climbing bush that has attached itself to the outside of a wooden barrel or nail stave and the interior of the pitcher is a faded plum or violet color.

    Fair condition as this piece resided in my grandparents garage for as long as I can recall until I retrieved it from the rubbish pile in 1989.

    Probably early 1870’s

    1. It sounds like the GJ pitcher from the "Hops" beverage set. Check my post "Twins Separated at Birth" for an image.