January 13, 2011

From the china cabinet: Head vases


Head vases are small containers from the 1950s and 60s that would have contained flowers and depicted ladies’ heads. These Japanese-made ceramics were once just dime-store florist vases, but are now popular among collectors. They aren’t exactly southern, but look at that dreamy expression on the sister in blue above…doesn’t she seem like a southern belle (or at least a wanna-be southern belle)?

jackie head vase

The reason I started thinking about head vases is my dear friend mlw and I  looked at one (above) depicting the lovely Jackie Kennedy in an antique shop. When he went back to possibly buy it as my Christmas present, the shopkeeper had raised the price to a whopping $900! (It was originally about $100). Apparently the Jackie head vases are in high demand and the shop only recently found out.


This post is the first of a new series here on SBS called “From the china cabinet” where I feature things that folks I know have collected or acquired. My me-me has a couple of these head vases and she pulled them out of the china cabinet so I could take a look. This one is pretty, but I think her floral headpiece needs updating just a bit. I love her heavily lidded eyes and tangerine lips.


I think this head vase is adorable…I’ll call her Gidget. She once had pearl earrings, but they are now missing. There is an entire website devoted to head vases and you can also find them on Ebay and Etsy as well as in antique shops. If you’re going for value, look for ones with no chips or cracks. Otherwise, they are a whimsical piece that would make a cute addition to a little girl’s room or collection. Ours are marked Napcoware on the bottom, but there were other manufacturers of them too.


Do any of you collect head vases? Maybe you have the desirable Jackie and weren’t aware of her worth. I’d love to hear about something that you collect!


  1. I don't have any of these, but I am loving them. I like the Jackie O one the best. I may have to keep an eye out at my antique mall.

  2. Very unique! Too bad that Jackie vase isn't in your possession!

  3. Beautiful...Gidget is my favorite :-)

  4. Oh I bet you were just SICK about that Jackie vase. Stink! You know.. come to think of it, I think my Grandma has a head vase up in one of her shelves. I'm going to investigate and send you a picture!

  5. I have one in the bottom of the kitchen cabinet that belonged to John's grandmother. As soon as I'm finished decorating Ren's room it's coming out and going somewhere in there.

  6. The perfect bit of whimsy! What a fun thing to collect!

    Sorry for being completely MIA lately, but I can't wait to catch up on your posts!

  7. my mother has a beautiful virgin mary headvase - it is simply gorgeous!!
    i'm loving the jackie... and now it is on my "must find!" list!

  8. I would love to own that Jackie one. She was my idol.

  9. I actually do collect them. My collection is far from extensive, but I'm trying and loving it every vase of the way!!

  10. I had no idea that Jackie head vases have become so valuable. I've always loved Jackie - now I have even more incentive to find her!

    The only head vases I have in my collection right now are Madonnas (as in the Virgin Mary, not "Like a Virgin"). They are quite lovely, actually - but I'd prefer a vase with earrings and pearls! :-)

  11. I have never seen those before. Pretty cool

  12. Oh, I LOVE head vases!!
    (My husband thinks they are creepy.)

    My grandmothers both had them & I have a couple from them...one is a boy/girl pair, they are my absolute favorites!

    I just recently happened upon your delightful blog, it makes me so happy to read! :) Thank you for sharing.

  13. we are still trying to find a head vase that my bil sent to my sister before they were married. great story goes with that.

    Also I wanted to tell you that I tagged you over at my blog to answer 19 questions, they aren't that hard and I was to choose four people and I really like your style and you are my southern sista so i hope you'll participate. I ll be looking forward to your answers.

    Carol-the gardener

  14. This is the first I've heard of head vases, but I'll be watching yard sales, estate sales, and antique shops from now on. Very cute! I collect tea pots, cups and saucers, I just love all the different china patterns. I have Chinese ceramic, American earthenware, and English porcelain. They're all so unique. I enjoyed meeting you at NETA and look forward to reading your blog.

    - Carol Sorber from PBS


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