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

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Majolica Hand Vases

I really don't know who invented the hand vase or how long they've been popular, but to my eye the hand vase is a particularly Victorian design. It's actually quite bizarre if you think about it; a disembodied woman's hand holding a container of flowers, but somehow it manages to be a quite disarming (no pun intended) and charming idea.

My first encounter with the hand vase was in a book about pottery. It struck me as so strange, but I must admit over time it has grown on me. Today I look at hand vases whenever they surface and am often charmed by the care and variety that went into their modeling.

Majolica hand vases go as far back as the creation of majolica itself. Minton made what is probably the loveliest, and strangest, hand vase of them all, a woman's hand holding an open mouthed fish into which one places flowers.

Geeoge Jones also made a hand vase in majolica, one more typical of those one sees in other ceramic bodies.

Joseph Holdcroft too made a lovely vase with lilies of the valley.

 The large majority of hand vases that one sees however, were made by various unnamed potteries throughout Great Britain.

Hand vases are sweet and feminine and very unusual. For that reason they usually sell at a premium. The Minton and Jones vases sell for well over $1000 but they are large commanding pieces that can be the center of a collection. The unmarked vases will generally sell under $400, with more common examples selling between $100-$200.

So. if you're charmed by them as I am, there's a hand vase out there in your price range waiting for you to take it home... but I wouldn't put flowers in it!


  1. hello, i have a hand vase similiar to joseph holdcroft's one on this site. I would like to know more about my piece. How do i contact you for this?

  2. I have a hand vase which i need some info on! HOw may we converse?

    1. I'm sorry, I don't have email here at the blog. If you'd like to post a photo through Photobucket or a similar site and post the link I'll be happy to help as best I can.