Antique and Vintage Elephants

People who love elephants have an enormous variety of objects to choose from. There are untold ceramic pieces made by any number of 19th-century Staffordshire potteries, as well as 20th-century American companies like McCoy and Shawnee. Sometimes ceramic elephants were created solely as decorative figurines. Other times they were fashioned into functional coffee creamers, using the world’s largest land mammal’s mouth or trunk as a spout. In most cases these kitchen items were generic, but a few resembled what you might call celebrity elephants, such as Disney’s Dumbo.

Glassware collectors go for elephant figurines produced by the likes of Fenton, Fostoria, Imperial, Mosser, and Steuben. European glass companies with elephantine tendencies include Kosta Boda, Orrefors, Swarovski, Lalique, Daum, Baccarat, Loetz, and Murano masters such as Barovier and Seguso.

Elephants have also been a favorite of advertisers, their size used to sell everything from petroleum products to beer. Pigs must often make way for elephants as still banks, while a pair of elephant bookends intuitively makes a lot of sense. Naturally elephants appear on circus posters, but they also make great cookie jars, cookie cutters, salt and pepper shakers, and subjects for children's books, from "Horton Hears a Who!" to "Babar."

When it comes to U.S. politics, the elephant is the familiar symbol of Republicans, appearing on campaign buttons and ashtrays as the mascot of the Grand Old Party. Elephants are also enlisted to help around the home, as a brass door knocker, for example, or the base of an Art Deco bronze lamp. But elephants are also revered creatures, as in Airavata, a white elephant, sometimes depicted with multiple heads, whose job is to bear the Hindu god Indra on its spacious back.


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National Carousel Association

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