The terms “head vase,” “lady head vase,” or “head planters” refer to a style of ceramic vase popularized during the 1950s and generally featuring the head or bust of a person, usually a woman. Originally, head vases were produced by florist companies to hold the bouquets they sold. Their small openings helped to maximize sales by limiting the number of blossoms each container held.

Early American head vase manufacturers include Betty Lou Nichols, Ceramic Arts Studio, and Dorothy Copley. Betty Lou Nichols opened her first ceramics studio in 1945. Nichols’ distinctive vases often showcase ladies with intricately curled hair and fabric ruffles along with pouting lips and her signature three-dimensional black eyelashes, all in hard ceramic.

Head vase subjects ranged from Disney characters to exoticized foreign females to the Virgin Mary. Today, many of the most collectible head vases feature the likenesses of familiar celebrities, like Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy.

The sudden growth of the Japanese economy following World War II created a new source of potential head-vase manufacturers, and new firms like Enesco, Lefton China, Napco, and Ucagco soon joined the game. These imports were generally much cheaper than those made domestically by Nichols and others, and the Japanese suppliers were soon beating their American counterparts.

As the style spread, similar designs were made for a wide variety of uses, from umbrella holders to head-shaped lamps. Other head vases were accessorized with jewelry, added after firing, and some featured a flat side so they could be mounted as wall pockets. By the 1970s, though, the head-vase fad had run its course, and demand decreased to the point that most companies stopped producing these pieces altogether.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Gouda Design

Gouda Design

Stuart Lonsdale and Kim Lindley's excellent tribute to and reference on Gouda Dutch Art Pottery and Delftware. The … [read review or visit site]

The Mid Century Modernist

The Mid Century Modernist

Stephen Coles' really visual blog dedicated to the Modernist era of design from 1940 to 1970 (aka Mid-century Moder… [read review or visit site]

Herman Miller Consortium Collection

Herman Miller Consortium Collection

This website showcases several hundred pieces of furniture, held by thirteen museums, that were designed for Herman… [read review or visit site]

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Dedicated to raising awareness of the ceramic art work of R. Guy Cowan and his Cowan Pottery Studio in northeastern… [read review or visit site]

The Pottery Studio

The Pottery Studio

This 7,000-plus page site lives up to its self-billing as a 'knowledge base' with examples of work from all major a… [read review or visit site]

EamesCollector.com

EamesCollector.com

Steven Cabella's personal homage to Charles and Ray Eames. This site is as clean and visually appealing as the Eame… [read review or visit site]

Work of Charles and Ray Eames

Work of Charles and Ray Eames

This Library of Congress microsite is an overview of the postwar modern design work of Charles (1907-78) and Ray (1… [read review or visit site]

Classic Modern

Classic Modern

Get a taste of how homes were lit in the 50s, 60s, and 70s with the Danish retro-style lighting designs featured on… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vtg Dorothy Kindell Ceramics Egyptian Lady Head Vase California Pottery LabelVintage 7" Lady Head Vase #4257 Japan Label - Blonde W/black Hat W/bow 1 EarringMdina Axe Head Vase 1976.Mid Century Relpo K1633 Lg. 7” Lady Head Vase Pearls Hand Face Orig,flowers N/rVintage Lady Head Vase 4" - BeautifulVintage Lady Head Vase 5" - BeautifulVintage Lady Head Vase Miss New York By Unicorn Japan 7 Inches Tall Enesco?Vintage 7" Inarco 1963 Lady Head Vase #e-1067 W Pearl NecklaceInarco Rare Christmas Holly Lady Head Vase 1961 Original Vintage Napco Christmas Lady Head Vase Headvase X7638 Excellent Cond.Lady Head Vases VintageVintage Christmas Headvase Planter Relpo Lady Gifts Shopper Head Vase Red White Head Vase Girl With Scarf Relpo K-1615 On Bottom & Paper LabelVintage 1950's Or 1960's Retro Lady Head Vase Woman Ns-606b JapanVintage Lady Head Vase Planter Glamour GirlVintage Lady Head Vase 4" - BeautifulVintage Womans/ladies Head Vase/planter Ceramic Made In Japan K1838 RelpoHead Vase 7 +" United Imports Vintage Excellent Condition And Gorgeous 1950s-60sVintage Rare Josef Originals Pink Girl Headvase FigurineVintage Head VaseVintage Teen Lady Head Vase Inarco E6211 Marked Plus Sticker-chartreuse GreenVintage Napco Lady Head Vase Large Blue Glove Pearl Earrings C6429 Vintage Rare Josef Originals Green Girl Headvase FigurineRare 484 Rubens Head Vase N/rVintage Napco 5 1/2" Lady Head Vase C 8496 Pearls Black/ Blue Suit JapanVintage Japan Ceramic Lady School Girl Pigtail Head Vase Planter Mini Marilyn Monroe Lady Head VaseVintage Modern Lady Lefton #624 Head Vase-gloved Hand-brown Hair-peach DressStunning Ceramic Or Porcelain Woman Head Vase Lg 7+ Tall Brinns 50'sLot (2) Vintage Mini Miniature Lady Ladies Head Vases Tilso W/earringsInarco Lady Headvase Head Vase 5 1/2" H 1956 ChristmasVintage Lady Head VaseNapco Cx49008 Ladies Head Vase 1961Vintage Head Vase Lady Woman Black Hat Dress Charming Brown Hair Vintage Antique 1963 Lady Head Vase Inarco W Tag E-774 Vintage Henri Delcourt French Figural Woman Head Vase Inkwell W/ Flower Insert Beautiful Vintage Small Head Vase Must See 1950's 60's Pink Vintage Head VaseVintage Rubens Japan Los Angeles Head Vase Headvase 485 As-is Still BeautifulHuge Vintage 7 1/4" Ceramic Betty Lou Nichols Valerie Head VaseVintage Head Vase Brinn's Pittsburgh Pa T-1393 Planter Little Girl In Pink Small Vintage Enesco Japan Blond HeadvaseHeadvase Lana Turner Rare 1961 Inarco E19 O/l Head Vase Black Dress Hat BowVintage Rare Nancy Pew Giftwares Co. Lady Head Vase Japan Original StickerVintage Lady Ceramic Head VaseNapco Lady Head Vase (1959)Vintage Lot Of 2 Lady Headvases-japanVintage Lady Headvase *napco* 1959 Black Dress & Hat W/bow Earrings C569 M/bVintage Lady Head Vase-(2) Hand Painted Japan Wall PocketsVintage Lot Of 4 Headvases-few With Small Chips Or Repairs-as Is!Vintage Baby On Telephone Hello Grand' Pa Figurine Inarco Japan Vase HeadvaseVintage Baby On Telephone Hello Grand' Ma Figurine Inarco Japan Vase HeadvaseHead Vase 7" HChristmas Girl Headvase Small Planter Inarco E1274 Cleveland Vintage Collectible1959 Vintage Royal Doulton The Falconer Head Vase "rare" Vintage Art Deco Lady Head Vase/ Wall PocketHaeger Wall Pocket Ladies Head Vase With Bonnet Teal Blue 1950's"must See" Vintage App 5" High Headvase Planter Vase Lady Woman Gold Trim Smaller Head Vase, Signed Japan, In Good Condiion, Enesco