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Head Vases and Planters

All materials on this page copyrighted by Catholic Home and Garden. All rights reserved.

Explore Brands - Artmark     Enesco      Haeger Pottery      Hull Pottery      INARCO      Lego Imports    Lefton   

  Made In Japan        Napco / Napcoware      Rubens Originals

 Samson Imports      Ucagco      All Other Makers      Mystery Head Vases

Where to Find Head Vases      What to Pay for Head Vases      How To Find Head Vases on eBay   

How to Clean Head Vases     Problems With Paint   Photographing Your Head Vase   Not Just for Plants

What's a head vase? 

Some call them head vases and others call them planters, but these charming ceramic creations are essentially a hollowed out statue with room in the back for flowers, taking their name from the common form of a head or bust. There are others that are full figured and these are usually called planters.

America prospered after World War II, and found that Japan was the perfect location for cheap manufacturing with the most favorable rate of exchange with the dollar to the yen. Ceramics were a popular commodity and head vases were used by florists and could be found in five and dime shops throughout the nation. While most of these were whimsical designs, there was an unending variety of religious themed planters as well.

Not all were produced overseas, but as the cost of labor in the United States rose, production  moved to Japan - where copyrights were not enforced. The head vases created in the USA mostly date to the 1950s, while those made in Japan were created in the 1960s.

With the continuing increase in "religious materialism" due to mass production, head vases and planters with Catholic themes were became common in nearly every Catholic home.

Most commonly depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary, often holding her Infant, these were special gifts for Mother's Day, for the birth of a new child, or to provide encouragement to those who were ill or grieving. 

Today a gift of flowers is likely to be presented in vessels resembling teddy bears or coffee mugs, or just about anything but the Blessed Mother.

While we at Catholic Home and Garden love them as devotional pieces, we recognize that they are also very collectible and hope you will enjoy the information below.

These are all examples of what has sold online and are not items that we offer for sale regularly. Please check our storefront as they become available.

Then

Now

Teleflora's Be Happy® Bouquet

Please Read: The head vases shown below are a photo archive provided to promote the appreciation of this type of Catholic artifact.

They are not available for sale. I have provided links throughout to help you find some.

You may also see our current inventory, click here

Photo Archive of Head Vases

Artmark Art Mark Chicago, Ill.
  

Standing Our Lady of Grace Planter 10 inches

Gum label Artmark Chicago Ill , Made in Japan.

Standing Virgin Mary Planter with Grapevine Detail

Artmark Red stamped Made in Japan. 10.5" tall

Artmark Standing Virgin and Child Head Vase 10 1/2"

Artmark Holy Family Planter B-1412 10 1/2"

Infant of Prague Planter Artmark Japan. 8" tall

Artmark Infant of Prague B-2002

Artmark Madonna and Child Head Vase

 

Artmark Standing Virgin and Child Planter 10 1/2"

Artmark Praying Virgin Mark Head Vase

Find Artmark Head Vases   Search eBay Now
Enesco - Founded in 1959 by Eugene Freedman in Milwaukee as a small plastic figurine company. Freedman soon merged with N. Shure Company, a  Chicago based import firm and they became a huge wholesale marketing entity. The combined name, N. S. Co. became Enesco. The firm began marketing Southeast Asian giftware from a small office in Elks Grove, Ill. and eventually expanded throughout the USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong and Europe. Most of the head vases were made by Japanese potters and are marked only with paper labels.

Enesco Virgin Mary Head Vase 7 3/4"

Enesco Praying Nun Head Vase 3 1/2"

72. Enesco Virgin Mary Head Vase 8"

Find an Enesco Head Vase -  Search eBay Now
Haeger Potteries, Inc. - Royal Haeger

Haeger Potteries Inc. Macomb, Ill. Praying Madonna Head Vase. Stamped "Haeger USA" in blue on bottom. 9" high, 6" deep 5 1/2" wide

Unusual light up planter 11 1/2" tall. H. 3806 A. L. Randall co. Haeger Am. Ceramic. USA

 

ROYAL HAEGER. USA. No. RO 17. Statue is 11" High, 4 1/2" Across Base. Planter is 4" Oval, 4" Deep

Haeger Standing Virgin and Child in White 11"

Haeger Standing Virgin and Child Ivory 11"

 

 

Find a Haeger Planter

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Hull Pottery - Hull Pottery began production in 1905 in Crooksville, Ohio, under the leadership of Addis Emmet Hull. Beginning with the manufacture of tableware, they moved into the art pottery field in 1920 and produced many pieces between the 1930s through 1950s. The firm closed its doors in 1983.

Hull USA F61. 9" tall and 6.5" wide

Hull Pottery in an ivory glaze,11.5 inches tall

Hull Art Pottery #26 Madonna and Child 8 inches

Hull USA 25 Kneeling Madonna Planter 7 1/2"

Hull Madonna Holding Rosary Head Vase Planter White Matte Finish 9 1/2" #417

 

Hull Pottery. 11 1/2" tall. St. Francis of Assisi. A rare planter.

Find Hull Madonna Planters - Search eBay Now
INARCO - Founded by Irwin Garber in 1960, International Artware Corporation (INARCO) was founded by in Cleveland, Ohio by Irwin Garber in 1960. It is believed that his wife, Roselle, was a model for a number of Garber's designs. At the start of trade, INARCO imported ceramics from Japan and in 1986 was purchased by Japanese giftware distributor Napco and moved to Jacksonville, Florida. While many stamps were used by INARCO, the company's head vases usually featured one of three main designs: one reading "Cleve Ohio", one marked "Japan", and one with a globe featured prominently.

INARCO JAPAN E322  6 1/2" HIGH  Matte Finish Praying Virgin Mary Head Vase

INARCO Praying Virgin Mary 1962 6-640

INARCO, Japan.  6-1/4" tall, 4-1/4" deep and 4-1/2" across.

INARCO Cleveland Ohio E-1621 5 inches Novice Nun Planter - Collection of Gloria Jarrett

INARCO White Matte Finish  6" tall, is 4 1/2" wide and 3 3/4" deep.

INARCO Standing Virgin Mary Planter E-3590 marked with Globe 10 1/2" tall

INARCO Praying Hand and Bible Planter 5 1/2" tall

 

INARCO Virgin Mary Head Vase

Nu E-2495 6 1/4" Tall

INARCO Praying Virgin Mary Head Vase E-2001 1964 Ivory Glaze

INARCO E 2000 Virgin Mary Closed Eyes Head Vase

INARCO Praying Nun Head Vase 1964

 

Find an INARCO

Head Vase

Search eBay Now

 

Lego Imports-Goldman Morgan
Lego Imports-Goldman Morgan's name is a combination of the first and last name of the company's president: Leo Goldman. Based in New York, the manufacturer is known for distributing a variety of collectibles, including bar accessories, figurines, and mugs. The company's head vases feature a paper label that reads: "Fine Quality Lego Japan."

 

Lego Praying Madonna Head Vase 6 1/2" tall

 Praying Hands and Bible 5" high. Lego

 

 

Standing Madonna Head Vase

Lego Japan. 7" tall

Find a Lego Imports Head Vase - Search eBay Now
Lefton - A native of Hungary, George Zoltan Lefton was a sportswear designer and manufacturer in that country before coming to the United States in 1939. In his new home, Lefton turned his attention to ceramics. He founded Lefton China, importing ceramic giftware from Asia and soon assuming a new nickname: "The China King." Originally produced in Japan, Lefton head vases were imported from the 50s to the 70s, with their popularity peaking in the 60s. The company's head vases were made by Maruri, a manufacturer that was originally located in Japan but later established factories in Taiwan, Mexico, and Malaysia. Gradually over the years, The George Zoltan Lefton Co. expanded its imports from Japan to Taiwan, Korea, Mexico, England, Italy, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. Lefton China eventually emerged solely as a wholesaler, distributing products to gift stores and department stores.

Standing Our Lady of Grace Planter - Lefton gold stamped 1731. 8" tall and 3" deep

Standing Madonna and Child Planter Lefton. 8" tall, 3 1/8" wide, 3 1/8" long, has the paper Lefton sticker on the bottom also numbers 7337.9.99

 

Praying Virgin Mary with Gold Detailing by Lefton AR5884 7 1/2" tall

 

Lefton 5 inch Ceramic Madonna Planter KW3208 with Patented Lace on the Leading Edge - Collection of Gloria Jarrett

 

Lefton Lord's Prayer Planter

 

Lefton 6 inch Praying Madonna Planter

Lefton Sacred Heart of Jesus Planter #3650

Miraculous Medal planter. 6" Lefton

Lefton Seated Virgin and Child Planter

 

Find a Lefton Planter  - Search eBay Now
Made in Japan

 

   

5 Inch Made in Japan Madonna Planter

Made in Japan 5 Inch Virgin Mary Planter

Made in Japan B/R Standing Madonna and Child Planter 9 inches

Virgin Mary Head Vase Made in Japan 5 3/8"

L&M Made in Japan Praying Virgin Mary Headvase

Made in Japan Virgin and Child Planter

Made in Japan Virgin Mary Planter

Made in Japan Madonna and Child Head Vase

Madonna and Child Head Vase Red Marked Japan

Virgin and Child Head Vase with Gold Detailing Red marked Made in Japan

Virgin and Child Planter 7" Red Marked Made in Japan

Pastel Madonna 6" Head Vase Red Marked Japan

Praying Virgin Mary Head Vase Occupied Japan

Praying Virgin Mary Headvase B/R Japan

Sacred Heart of Jesus 6 Inch Planter Made in Japan

Praying Madonna Planter 5 Inch Made in Japan

Standing Madonna and Child Black Stamped Made in Japan

Praying Madonna Planter 5 Inch Made in Japan Pale Green Mantle

Lustre finish Madonna 9" tall. Made in Japan

Red marked Made in Japan

Virgin and Child Red marked Made in Japan

Seated Virgin and Child Planter Made in Japan

Sacred Heart Red marked Made in Japan

Infant of Prague Planter Red stamped Made in Japan. Unusual because of the bean pot back

Suffering Christ Planter  8" tall. Red marked Made in Japan.

Infant of Prague Red Marked Japan

Pastel Madonna Head Vase Marked Quality Japan

 

Find a Made In Japan Planter - Search eBay Now
Napco - Napcoware
Established in 1938 in Bedford, Ohio, the National Potteries Corporation, otherwise known as Napco, imports various styles of ceramic, glass, and china giftware. Irwin Garber, who would later launch INARCO, joined the company in the mid-40s and spearheaded its development of head vases. Owned and operated in the Midwest, Napco distributed a variety of collectibles, including decorative wall accessories, ashtrays, ceramic and wood house wares, floral arrangements, ceramic planters, decorative glass, novelty figurines, mugs, trivets, and Christmas ceramics. Napco used a wide array of marks for its head vases—some transfer marks and some paper labels. The paper labels feature various wording, such as: "A Napco Collection," "Napco originals by Giftware," "National Potteries Co., Cleveland, OH, Made in Japan," "Napcoware, Import Japan" and Nancy Pew

Crossed Arms Virgin Mary Head Vase Napco 6" tall, Marked 4/56

Napco Praying Virgin Mary Head Vase 5 5/8" high, 3 7/8" wide, 3 3/8" deep. Numbered FR3933/P

Standing Madonna and Child Planter Napco. 8" tall. Marked National Potteries Co. Cleveland, O Made in Japan. CR 4895 Napco 1960

Virgin and Child Shrine Planter CR 33418" Copyrighted by Napco. Dated 1958. 5 1/4" tall

Napco Virgin and Child Planter Numbered AR4033 Bor. 8

Napco Madonna and Child Head Vase 5.5"

 

Napco Virgin and Child Head Vase R-7075

Napco Virgin and Child Head Vase R-7076

Buy Now

Virgin and Child Napcoware R 7077 5 1/2"

Napco Virgin Mary Planter with Wall Pocket Option in White

Napco Praying Nun Planter K 1717

Napco S 175 Virgin Mary Planter 6 1/4"

Napco Virgin and Child Planter 10"

Napco Praying Virgin Headvase with Pink Mantle Marked R-6843

Napco Standing Virgin Mary Planter 11 inches Lustreware Finish

Napco Saint Francis Planter R-6577 Japan

 

Saint Francis Planter Napco, Bedford, Ill. 1961 AR6290

 

Find a Napco

or Napcoware

Planter

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Rubens Originals
With its trademark Rubens "R" logo gracing its pieces, Rubens remains of the most recognizable head vase producers in the world. The company began as the U.S. Bag & Supply Company, founded in the 30s by Israel Steinman. His son, Reuben, took over in 1947, renamed the company Rubens Originals 9to mimic the spelling of the famous painter), and began importing art ware from Japan. After purchasing an elegant vase on a trip to Montreal, Reuben Steinman had the piece reproduced in three sizes; in 1956, the very first Rubens Original head vase was released. Based in Los Angeles, the company began distributing a variety of collectibles, such as floral pottery and giftware, ceramic and plastic accessories, and figurines. Today, Rubens Originals continues to import novelty pottery, floral containers and artificial silk flowers from Japan.

 

Rubens. 8" tall. Three distinct markings: Rubens red foil sticker, Rubens black stamp and R No. 193

Rubens Praying Madonna Closed Eyes 6 1/2" Collection of Gloria Jarrett

Rubens Madonna and Child Planter 6 1/2" Collection of Gloria Jarrett

Rubens Madonna and Child R-203 7 1/4" Collection of Gloria Jarrett

Rubens Made in Japan Madonna Head Vase

Rubens Original Virgin and Child Planter R=207

Rubens Standing Saint Francis Planter

Rubens Standing Virgin Vase Japan

 Infant of Prague Planter Rubens 178 Japan marked. 8" tall.

 

Rubens Japan. Sticker that reads" Rubens Originals Japan Los Angeles. 201MC.

 

Rubens, Made in Japan, number 316, 6.25"

 

 Ruben 8" Tall Number 125 P/N

 

 

Sell  or Show

Your Ruben

Head Vase Here

 

 

Find a Rubens

Head Vase

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Samson Import Co. Inc. / Reliable Glassware & Pottery Co., Inc. / Relpo
Samuel Krivit founded the Samson Import Co. in 1933. The name was a derivation of his own name "Sam" with "Son"—an indication that he hoped his son, Jerome, would someday enter the business. Starting as a ceramic and stoneware vase importer, the company flourished. Soon enough, the younger Krivit did indeed join the business; Jerome helped spearhead the creation of Reliable Glassware & Pottery Co.—or Relpo—which served as the marketing and distribution company under Samson Import Co. By the late 50s, Samuel had retired and Jerome had assumed control over both companies. Making frequent trips to Japan, Jerome helped to build a line of floral containers and soon, lady head vases were a prominent item in the company's distribution. In fact, in its heyday, Samson Import Co. was producing more than a dozen different varieties of head vases-mostly in Seto City, Japan. After Jerome Krivit's death in 1983, the company was taken over by his sister, Muriel Krivit Spier. A variety of paper labels and transfer marks are found on the head vases, and include inscriptions that represent every branch of the company: "Reliable Glassware & Pottery Inc.", "Relpo", and "Samson Import Co."

Samson Import Company dated and numbered 453M 7.27

Samson Import 1958 #346. 8 1/2" tall

Relpo A1470 10.5" Tall

Relpo, original ceramic, Chicago, Ill., made in Japan. Also a stamp that says-Samson Import Co., 1959, #45311. 6 1/2"

Relpo 6743 11" tall.

 

Nancy Pew Giftware Head Vase

 

UCAGCO
United China & Glass Co. Inc., better known as UCAGCO, is one of the oldest importers of head vases, dating back to 1850. Founded by Abe Mayer and originally called Abe Mayer & Co., the importer did business throughout the Southeast U.S. as well as Central and South America. It wasn't until the 30s that the company took on the official trademark of UCAGCO and began expanding overseas. In fact, after the war, the company's agent in Japan, S.A. Stolaroff signed the very first contract allowing imports from Japan. A talented ceramic designer himself, Stolaroff worked alongside many Japanese potteries to lead the company's line of ceramics. In 1956, UCAGCO was sold to Sammons Enterprises and in 1962, Stolaroff, who had become the company's president, retired. UCAGCO head vases are widely recognized for their high quality and excellent finish. The pieces feature both transfer-type marks and paper labels.

Ucagco Ceramics Japan 6 1/2"

Ucagco Ceramics Japan 6 1/2"

 

Find a Vintage

Head Vase

for Your Home

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All Other Makers    

Virgin Mary Shafford Japan Head Vase Decorative gold accents around neck, sleeves, shoulders, back. Gold sticker marked Styled Number 4155 Approx. 5 1/2 inch. tall and 3 1/2 inch. wide - Collection of Gloria Jarrett

Lark Quality Made in Japan Saint Anthony and Child Jesus Planter 8 inches - Collection of Gloria Jarrett

Florart Factory Japan - Shield Trademark 8 inches

Good Shepherd Planter

Florarts Japan Virgin Mary Head Vase

Rossini Made in Japan Infant of Prague

Trimont Ware Made in Japan Nun Planter

 Thornton Ceramics - TEXAS - M2

Royal Windsor 8" tall

 Sanmyro Japan 6 1/2"

Stafford. 6 1/4" tall

Samson Import Co. 1963 Number 5408 9" tall

Camark 13" tall

Norcrest Madonna Head Vase E 77

 7" tall. Artmark. Unglazed except for interior

Telefora Jesus Portrait Vase

Unknown Makers - Help Me Identify Them - Email Positive Identification Using the Head Vase Number

1.  Madonna and Child Planter 10 Inches

2. Madonna and Child Head Vase

3. Jesus Planter

4. Madonna and Child Planter Marked 3245

5. Unmarked Pearlized Finish 6 Inches

6. Unmarked Infant of Prague 6 Inches

7. Unmarked 6 3/4" Red Marked Japan Collection of Gloria Jarrett

8. Unmarked 6 3/4" Pearlized with Plaster Foot Collection of Gloria Jarrett

9. Unmarked 6 Inches Collection of Gloria Jarrett

10. Madonna and Child Unknown

11. Unmarked

 

12. Unmarked, magnificent hand painted finish. Our best guess is that this beautiful head vase was made in Italy.

 

13.Unmarked. 6" tall approx 4.5" wide

14. Rare Sacred Heart of Jesus. Unmarked

 

15. 6" tall. Possibly Lenox

 

16. Unmarked.

17. Unmarked 7-1/4" high, 4-1/4" wide and 4-3/4" deep

18. Unmarked.  6 inches high

19. St. Joseph No markings

20. 8" high Marked 4157

 

21. No markings

 

22. No Markings 8 3/4” tall

23. No markings

 

24.  6" tall No Markings

 

25. Unmarked

 

26. 10" tall. Unmarked

 

27. 9" tall. Unmarked

 

28. 8" tall. Unmarked

 

29. Unmarked. Features a hole for wall mounting

30. 5" tall. Unmarked,

31. 8.5" Tall. Unmarked

32. Numbered 4152.

33. Unmarked. Number 4156.

34. 4 1/2" tall with impasto porcelain flowers. Unmarked

35. Unmarked

36. Unmarked. Hard to find head of Christ

37. Unmarked

 

38. St Joseph. 10.5" tall. Marked B-1345

39. Unmarked. 10 1/4" Textured vestment. Stable red coloration.

40. Numbered R5838. Stands 8 1/4" tall.

41. Rare Saint Anthony. 8 1/2". No marking

42. 10.5" tall. No marking

43. 6 1/2" tall. No markings

4. 6 1/4" No markings

45.  No information available

 

46. Unmarked

47. No information available

 

48. No information available

49. Made in Italy

50. No information available

51. No information

52. No Information

53. No information

54. No Information

55. No information

 

56. No information

57. Saint Jude

58. No information

59. No information

60 No information

61. No information

62. No information

63 No information

64. No information

 

Please share your favorite head vases and planters with us.

 

If you can help identify any of the planters above, I'd be grateful. 

 

Let us know how you use them in your Catholic home.

 

A Note for These Times:  

I've spent months putting this page together. Please be a good Christian and refrain from copying any content. Thank you.

 

Where to find them.  What to look for.  It's almost impossible to find new head vases at your local florist unless they have some old stock hidden away. These beautiful pieces can still be found at garage sales, estate sales and church white elephant sales.  Many collectors look for specific brands such as  Lefton, Hull, Haeger, red marked Made in Japan, Inarco, and Nancy Pew Artmark. There are many beautiful pieces that are unmarked, and some of our personal favorites are made in Italy.

What to Pay.  If you're lucky enough to find them at a garage sale or flea market, expect to pay $1-$3.00 for most head vases.  Sought-after brand names may command prices between $5-15, depending on size and detailing.  Shopping on the internet, prices increase steeply, with most starting at $10 and traveling upwards for hard-to-find prices. Add another $5 or more for shipping and the total cost can approach $20 or more.  Well worth it if you find a piece you love.

How to Hunt for Them on eBay Sellers on eBay list head vases under all sorts of names. Here are some of our favorite searches

Madonna Planter     Mary Planter

Mary Headvase    Virgin Head vase

Dirt!  In some you might also find encrusted soil or salts.  This can generally be removed with a good soaking in bleach (on the inside only) or vinegar. Sometimes, however, nothing you do will remove it ... so just forget it. It's in the back of the piece anyway! Never scrub the surface of a head vase. You might remove the paint. Also, take care to preserve any stickers from getting wet. It can affect their value if you decide to sell.

Problems with Paint The type of paint used on Infant of Prague planters is particularly vulnerable to damage. Do you best to match the hue with an inexpensive nail polish and make repairs as best as you are able.If you work carefully, your planter will look as good as the day it was made! To clean in the future, use a soft bristle brush and, if needed, a gentle spray of warm water.

SELLERS' HINT:  As you'll see from some of the photos taken from eBay ads (with permission), the setting of your planter or head vase does matter! An inexpensive piece of black or grey poster board makes an excellent background without any distractions. Well worth the 79 cent investment! Natural lighting is always best, but side lighting works well, too to help bring out the nuances of the sculpting.  Avoid using a direct flash which can wash out colors.

Not Just for Plants! 

Ideas for Using Headvases and Planters

Don't limit yourself to using them as planters -- they make terrible planters anyway since there's no drainage. 

Do use them as vases, filled with cut flowers from your garden, wildflowers and foliage from roadsides, or -- if you must -- artificial flowers. 

Place one by the front door, in your office or on your desk and fill with holy cards and small prayer booklets to share with visitors.

Use them to hold rosaries. Place one in the bathroom to hold your scapular while you're in the shower.

They make lovely gifts for new mothers, those who are ill, and elderly shut in's. You can personalize your head vase by filling it with an assortment of Catholic sacramentals -- a rosary, a scapular, a prayer card.

 

Head vases and planters are relatively inexpensive when you find them at garage and estate sales, so stock up when you can find them.  One of our colleagues collects them for her pastor who loves to bring them along on sick calls. Why not start your own ministry of cheer?

The photos above are an example of some head vases and planters that we have found and others that have been available on eBay.

If you have a special head vase -- or a story to share about how you use these, email us.

 

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http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?type=3&campid=5336019670&toolid=10001&customid=&ext=Madonna+Headvase&satitle=Madonna+Headvase

 

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