The predecessors to wall pockets, those flat-backed ceramic vases intended to be hung on a wall, were wall-mounted wooden boxes that held candles, matches, or eating utensils, as well as cloth pockets designed to hold sewing tools such as scissors, thimbles, or thread. Decorative wall pockets, or “wall vases,” first became home fixtures in the late 18th century, when porcelain potteries were popping up all over Europe. Staffordshire, Minton, Wedgwood, Royal Worcester, Royal Doulton, and Meissen all produced elegant wall pockets made out of fine china.

More recently, wall pockets meant for flowers experienced a revival in postwar America, when the demand for fun, novelty ceramics like head vases, cookie jars, and salt-and-pepper shakers exploded. Some of these ceramic pieces, which hit their peak of popularity with homemakers in the '50s, were made in home-grown U.S. potteries, like those by Rookwood, Roseville, Weller, McCoy, Hull, the California Cleminsons, Frankoma, and Holt-Howard. Others were produced in occupied Japan and imported by Lefton, Napco, and PY.

While clay is the most popular material for collectible wall pockets, they’ve also been made out of wood, glass, cloth, plastic, and metals such as copper or tin. Intended to hold everything from living plants to cut, dried, or fake flowers, along with house keys and even sink scrubbers, wall pockets can be anywhere from a few inches to a foot tall. While untold thousands of ceramic wall pockets were made between the '40s and '60s, their tendency to drop from walls and crack or break has made them scarce today.

Vintage and antique wall pockets come in every shape imaginable: You can find full figures or busts of realistic men, women, and children, as well as fantasy characters like mermaids, cherubs, and angels. There is also a wide range of animal characters like cats, dogs, sea horses, fish, birds, butterflies, roosters, and owls. Wall pockets are sometimes shaped like fruits and nuts, while their depictions of flowers runs from realistic to anthropomorphic, the latter often typified by their cloying, smiling faces. Others look like buildings, boats, trees, seashells. Wall pockets shaped like teapots and pitchers are also popular, as are those resembling objects like violins, umbrellas, bells, irons, and hand fans.

Some of the most valuable and collectible wall pockets today are those with a basic trumpet or cone shape that have been decorated with breathtaking luster and iridescent glazes. Wall pockets featuring gorgeous hand-painting and relief sculpture characterized the fine china and art pottery of companies like Noritake in Japan and Rookwood, Roseville, and Weller in the United States. In particular, the most desirable wall pockets made by Roseville include art-vase patterns such as Donatello, Rozane, Apple Blossom, Carnelian, Columbine, Dogwood, and Florentine. Unfortunately, because Roseville is so popular there are myriad knockoffs on the market; usually the low quality of the decor is a dead giveaway that it is a fake.

On the kitschier side, McCoy Pottery, known for its cookie jars, tended to produce cute figural wall pockets shaped like cuckoo clocks, lilies, or birds on a bird bath. Another common theme for McCoy pockets were ceramic trivets with random objects on their fronts like clothing irons or owls. But the most popular McCoy wall pockets are fruits against a leafy background. Pears and apples are relatively common, while oranges and some grap clusters are particularly hard-to-find.

The Cleminson pottery, also known the California Cleminsons, started out in 1941 as Betty Cleminson’s hobby and a business she ran from her garage. Her wall pockets are character...

Holt-Howard, esteemed for its “Pixieware” kitchenware, also made a line called “Cozy Kitchen Kitties.” While “kitchen” was in the name, many of these sly, expressive cats could be used in any room, including the clever kitty wall caddy which had a planter on its head and a key hook for its tail, as well as front legs that could hold watches and jewelry. Another popular line were the girl and boy mermaids riding on sea horses in sets called “Minnie and Moby.”

Other American potteries that produced wall pockets include Hull (conch shells), Frankoma (acorns), Deena China (known for its Savoy line), American Ceramic Products, Metlox, Roselane, Florence, Twin Winton, and Barbara Willis.

Ceramic wall pockets were also produced in Germany, Czechoslovakia, and, of course, Japan. In the '50s and '60s, two American companies that imported novelty ceramics from Japan—PY and Napco (National Potteries Company of Cleveland)—capitalized on anthropomorphic wall pockets shaped like apples, sunflowers, or daisies with flirty, adorable smiles. The identical versions of the iconic, expressive “flower face” wall pockets, such as the mama sunflower and her babies, could be marked with either importer’s name.

Starting in the '40s, Lefton also imported campy ceramics from Japan, including wall pockets, cookie jars, salt-and-pepper shakers, and bathroom wall-plaque sets shaped like mermaids, fish, or sea horses. Often wall pocket characters echoed those of Lefton cookie jars, like the cute girl Dainty Miss or the blue cat Miss Priss. Often Lefton pockets came in flirtatious pairs like bonneted girls in pink and boys in blue. Others were shaped like violins, purses, and open Bibles (spelling out the Lord’s Prayer) with applied flowers and ribbons.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

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]

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]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Roseville Cosmos 8 1/2 #1286 Green Wall Pocket Sconce Vase(2)Vintage Weller Woodcraft Wall Pockets ( Pair ) Excellent ConditionVintage Delft Wall Pocket Holland Williamsburg Restoration PairRed Riding Hood Wall Pocket Hull Pottery #135889 Excellent Condition NoreserveVintage Noritake Wall Pocket VaseVintage Roseville Wall Pocket Florentine Vase Planter PotteryCeramic Czech Bird Wall Pocket"rare" Roseville Columbine 8.25" Wall Pocket #1290-8 2 Vintage Pink & Black Fish Ceramic Wall Pockets - 1950s 1960sVintage Italian Ardalt Lavabo Decorative Wall Pocket Fountain & Bowl W Cover YqzVintage Wall Pocket Vase Pine Cones Fir Branch Green Brown Large Vintage Lustreware Bird Of Paradise Wall Pocket Vase-made In JapanOld Mccoy Wall Pocket-green Glazed Letter Box-scarceLefton Wall PocketCzech Parrot Wall-pocket--colorful Bird Wall-pocketHard To Find Vintage Treasure Craft Wall Pocket Mushrooms -retro Vintage Wall Pocket Lusterware Hand Painted Made In Japan Glidden Pottery Green Mesa Wall Pocket Vase Mid Century Modern CeramicsVintage Czech Wall Pocket~bird On Birdhouse~czechoslovakiaGlidden Pottery Green Mesa Rarest Hanging Bowl Wall Pocket Vase Mid Century ModVintage 1930's Czech Czechoslovakian Bird With Birdhouse On Tree Wall PocketVintage 2 Wall Pockets Pottery Stewart Mcculloch Hat & Bird Hanging ColorfulHull Bow Knot Wall Pocket Pitcher - Blue And Cream - 1949 Roseville Pottery Lot Clematis Wall Pocket, Water Lily Basket And CornucopiaRoseville Wall Pocket RepoWall Pocket Bird Of Paradise Germany Vintage Antique?Belleek Parian China Wall Pocket 2002 Retrospect Original BoxVintage Pottery "strawberry" Wall PocketSonsco Swan Wall Pockets - Vintage Wall Pockets Colorful Birds - Japan - PairHull Bow Knot Wall Pocket Whisk Broom/brush - Blue And Cream - 1949 Vintage Black Tokanabe Textured Wall Pocket Jeweled Eyed Owl Sitting In Cherry TVintage Japan Napco Man Boy Top Hat Head Vase Wall Pocket Made In JapanVintage Japan Fish Porcelain Wall Pocket Vase Retro Ceramic Oriental Bamboo Japanese Wall Pocket Vintage Wall Pocket Bird And FlowerMiss Priss Cat Collectible Wall Pocket Antique French Faience Flower Wall Pocket Vase~wow~ Funky Handmade Pottery Wall Art Pocket Vase Modern Fun WomanRoseville Reproduction Wall Pocket-usedVintage Dragonware Moriage Blue Wall W/peach Lustre Pocket NrVintage Sunflower Sm 5" Wall Pocket Anthropomorphic Face Japan Holt Howard?1950sVintage Wall Pocket Vase Cuckoo Clock Made In Japan Yellow Birds Grapes Leaves 1930's Czech~parrot Wall Pocket /hanging Spill Vase~dime Stamp Czechoslovakia Beautiful Vintage Robin's Egg Blue Wall Pocket W/pink & Yellow Flowers Very NiceTeapot 2 Wall Pockets Vintage Pair Tea Pots Porcelain , Fruit On TeapotsThree Vintage Kitschy Japan Sushi Fish Ceramic Porcelain Wall PocketsAsian Scene Vintage Pottery Wall Pocket Made In Japan Embossed PagodaVintage Wall Pocket Vase Man Playing FiddlePennsbury Pottery Square Wall Pocket - Good Original Vintage Piece - Cheap PriceVintage Ceramic Wall Pocket Vase Bird Made In Japan Mij1930's Vintage Czechoslovakia Bird Wall Pocket With Parrot On A Branch *nice*Vtg Royal Copley Wall Pocket Vase Angel Praying PinkVintage Royal Copley Summer Time Hat Sun Bonnet Planter Wall Pocket Pink FlowersUnusual Early Vintage Porcelain Wall Pocket Vase W/ Bird * Cylinder Shape Peter & Reed Art Pottery Wall Pocket Vase Azetc Moss Artist Signed Ferrell OldVintage Wall Pockets W/ Sailing Clipper Ship Made In Japan $4.99 Ship! Vintage Wall Pocket Vase Planter Wagon With Fruit TmVintage Wall Pocket Vase Planter God Bless Our Home Clock TmWall Pocket Made In Japan Great Condition