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    

Magnificent Vintage Van Briggle Ming Blue Indian Head Vase Vintage Lady Unmarked Blonde Head Vase PinkRare Napco Lg 6 Lady Headvase Japan Head Vase Vtg 50's Turban Sweet Seconds Vintage Original 1959 Holt Howard Christmas Lady Head Vase Earrings Necklace 5 1/2" Enesco Lady Headvase Head Vase Hollywood Regency Lady Head Vase Ashtray Very Rare Geo LeftonVintage Glamour Girl Lady Head Vase Ceramic Planter Black Hair Rockabilly Vintage Huge 11" Inarco Headvase W/ Pearl Earrings & Necklace #e2966 11 Inches. Vintage 1964 Inarco Original Jacqueline Jackie Kennedy Headvase Head Vase E-1852Vintage 1960's Type Lady Head Vase In Hat With Ear Rings & Bow Inarco ???Vintage Rubens? Lady Head Vase Hat Pearls R495 Japan Perfect ConditionAntique Royal Doulton Pottery - Stoneware Grotesque Satyr's Head Vase - Unusual!Vintage New Old Stock Lady Head Vase With Floral Hat In Original Sibley's Box Large Napco Japan C7497 Napcoware Head Vase 9 1/2"Vintage Mint In Original Box Napcoware 7-1/2" Tall Lady Head Vase Planter 7294 ADemure Inarco Lg 6 Teen Headvase Lady Head Vase Mod 60's Lush Lash Exc Nr!Inarco Lg 6 Lady Headvase Head Vase Vtg 50s Audrey Hepburn Tiffany* Gold TiarraMarilyn Monroe Head Vase Vintage Headvase Vintage Head Vase Lefton Head Vase Enesco Lg 6 Lady Headvase Relpo Head Vase Vtg 50's Liz Taylor Open Eyes PrettyVintage Inarco E1610 Lady Head Vase Figurine 1964 Cleve OhioVtg Napco C8493 Mod Teenager Young Girl Lady Head Vase Blue Bow & Pearl EarringVintage 1958 Napco Woman In Blue Hat Head Vase #c3307a - Pre-owned Vintage 1964 Jacqueline (jackie) Kennedy White Mourning Head Vase, InarcoArdco Dallas Lg 6 Headvase Teen Head Vase Blonde Blue Eyes Mnty!!Exquisite Lefton Lg 6 Headvase Lady Head Vase 50'svogue Evening Gown No Crazing Vintage 1958 Napco Lady Head Vase Planter Pearls Black Dress HatLove Lucy Inarco Lg 5 Head Vase Lady Headvase Vtg 50's Sea Foam White Gold!Vintage Large 7" 2004 Relpo Lady Headvase Head VaseVintage Napcoware Lady Head Vase C7293Relpo 5 1/2 Headvase Lady Head Vase Vtg 60's Blonde Blue Eyes Belle Glove HatOriginal~vintage 7 1/4 Inch~napcoware Lady Head Vase ~ Napco Planter #c7473 Napco C8496 Blonde Lady Head Vase Red Lips Black & White Top Doris Day? ~ 5 1/2"Relpo 3 1/2headvase Lady Head Vase Vtg 60's Blonde Blue Eyes Belle No Glove HatInarco Lady Head Vase - E 1138 - Black Hair With Gold Head Band And Faux PearlsVintage Inarco Head Vase Planter 29002 Studio Art Pottery Head Vase Bowl Candle Holder Mid Modern Adler EsqNapco Ceramic Headvase Bunny Girl Easter PlanterNapco C8499 Dirty Blonde Lady Head Vase Green Top & Bow Faux Pearls ~ 5 1/2"Vintage 1958 Napco Pottery Ceramic Head Vase HeadvaseLady Head Vases 3 Napco And Japan3 Vintage Folk Art Lady Head Vases Wall Pocket Gemma Taccogna StyleVintage Napcoware Porcelain Lady Headvase 6" Tall, Made In Japan, Circa 1960'sCameo Girls Miniature Deluxe Judith 1996 "showstopper" Head Vase - Pre-ownedVintage Napco Woman Wearing Blue Glove Head Vase #c6426 - Pre-ownedElegant Japan Wreath Lg 6 Headvase Teen Head Vase Vtg 50's "joan Crawford" MintyVintage Ladies Head VaseVintage Caffco Lady Head Vase Headvase 5 1/2"Lady Head Vase 7303Vintage Napcoware Liz Taylor Headvase Napco C 7313 Head VaseVintage National Potteries Porcelian Lady Headvase 5 1/2" TallVintage 5" Head Vase Japan Pearls Lady With HatLove Lucy Napco Lg 6 Headvase Lady Head Vase Blonde Brush Lash Turquoise Outfit!Vintage Woman In Yellow Sweater Head Vase - Pre-ownedCameo Girls Deluxe Martina 1920 "suffrage 85th Anniversary" Head Vase Pre-ownedVtg Rubens Clown Head Vase Pottery Planter W Sticker Hand Painted, Japan C1950sLady Head Vase, White With Oil Slick Coloring And AppliqueNapcoware Napco Head Vase Lady W/ Earrings (b081)Head Vase By Bradley Exclusives 3 1/4 InchAdorable Vintage Japan Head Vase Iowa Farmer Girl With Hat In Hand Pigtails Nice