Advertising and Souvenirs
These two categories overlap quite a bit, so it made sense to me to display them together although there
are some features that could be used to differentiate them. At one end of the spectrum there are cow
creamers that represent a cow or milk product or place. The most famous of these (at least in the US) is
Borden’s Elsie. Other examples include the many cow creamers from places like Jersey or Guernsey that are
famous for their eponymous breeds. At the other end of the spectrum there are cow creamers that simply
served as inexpensive remembrances of a place someone visited, e.g. Niagara Falls (No cows last time I
visited – but they did have a variety of pigs. Tastes change I guess.). Then there are mixtures such as the
plastic Whirley Moo-Cow creamers that were sold in the millions through restaurants and usually bore words
or pictures, sometimes both, some with advertisements and some with sayings or place names. Another type
of overlap is found in the rather lovely porcelain creamers (mostly German and French) that date from
Victorian days through about the 1930s.While these were usually bought as keepsakes of a pleasant holiday
they also served to advertise the beauties of various cities and resorts.
Let’s start this page with Elsie, who was created as a cartoon mascot to symbolize the quality of Borden’s
products in 1936. She was an immediate hit, and Borden and their follow-on companies have stuck with her.
Following their popular exhibit at the New York World’s Fair in 1939, where they had several live cows,
Borden decided to select one to satisfy children who wanted to know which one was the REAL Elsie. The
one they picked from their herd was a Jersey originally named “You’ll Do Lobelia”, and she became a
national favorite. Borden produced a number of creamers and pitchers of Elsie (along with many other
advertising products) - as well as of her husband Elmer (of glue fame), who in the head-only versions
accompanied her as a sugar bowl. While I have been unable to determine when Borden started making and
selling these creamers, I suspect it was soon after the World’s Fair, say the very early 1940s. As shown
below, the ‘designer’ of the original full-body version applied for a patent in January 1943. That patent
didn’t seem to bother the imitators however, and ever since there have been innumerable ‘look-alikes’ or
knock-off Elsies, some but not all of which bear a striking resemblance to the ‘official’ versions.
Click on any thumbnail to get a larger picture
Here are two ‘official’ versions of Elsie (back as well as front of the white one to show off her
pretty blue bow), bearing both a sticker with her name, and a Borden’s copyright stamp…
…and here’s what makes them “official” – a copy of the design patent issued to Walter Oehrle as
assignor to Borden, in 1943…I can’t find much about Mr Oehrle (pronounced ‘Early’) on the web,
except that he was a quite well known ‘cartoon’ artist, who in the 1920s and 30s produced images of
bears for Union Pacific, as well as some paintings that were rendered into woodcuts, and then into
cut glass, that hung in the Bear Pit Lounge and dining room of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn. ..
Here’s an ‘original’ early version of Elsie bearing the sales slip and the price (but no year
date)…$1.50. The big circular sticker on Elsie’s right side proclaims she was produced by
“Hollywood Craftsmen, Made in California, Hand Decorated”, and the sales slip is from
Kaufman-Straus, a Louisville, KY local Department store that operated from 1879-1969.
This pot-metal version of Elsie in the ‘official’ shape came from Borden’s exhibit at the “1947
Eastern State’s Exposition” in West Springfield, MA (the first after the end of WWII). I know that
for a fact because it’s impressed into her left side, below a script “Howdy”, a line that’s
indecipherable, and Elsie’s ‘signature’. This poor Elsie is in very sad shape – she’s badly pitted,
cracked, and eroded, is missing part of her right horn, and on the way to me had three of her legs
broken off. She was so badly damaged in shipping that the seller kindly refunded my purchase price,
but before dispatching her to her final pasture I managed to patch her up just well enough to take
this picture. I’d really like to acquire a better version of this cow but because of the very low
quality of the post-war metal I expect that most of them, like this one, have fared poorly over the
years. At the very least I’d sure like to learn what the illegible line of script on her side says –
so if anyone out there has one that’s readable, please let me know.
Here are some Elsie ‘look-alikes’, some more closely modeled on the original than others. There
are more examples in the ‘Modern Variations’ theme section.
Here is Borden’s pitcher version of an Elsie head creamer, with Elmer as the sugar bowl. These two
retain the original stickers in their ears. Elsie comes in a variety of colors and sizes, but this
seems to be the 'classic' or 'official' version.
Here’s a mint set of the large ceramic ‘official’ version in their original box.
Borden's also made a plastic version of the Elsie and Elmer sugar and creamer set. This makes a lot
of sense if you intend to allow your kids use it for their breakfast.
Here's an example of different sizes of Elsie - the smaller one I'm pretty sure is an 'authorized'
Bordens version, but have serious doubts about the larger one with the fancy eyelashes.
Just as the standing Elsies were copied widely, so were the head versions. The blue and white ones
aren't marked, but the other pair is clearly stamnped "Handpainted, Japan".
Carnation, which makes condensed milk, of course has to have its ‘contented cow'.p>
And naturally Hershey, with its milk chocolate, features cows as well. The creamer on the right in
this picture came from the Hershey chocolate company’s gift store at their plant in Hershey,
Pennsylvania. Although the connection to the product isn't quite so clear, folks do put milk on
Jell-O. Thus they got in the act with the creamer on the left, which is Sebastian Miniature catalog
#LC-13, one of the many figurines created by Preston Baston and his son Woody. Baston did a series
of miniatures for Jell-O from 1951-56, and at the end of that series designed this cow creamer for
the company. Jell-O had a hundred thousand of them made in Japan and offered them for $1.00 and a
coupon from their advertisements. They're considerably more pricey these days. See
Here’s another one from Hershey, this time on a pudgy creamer that’s quite a popular mold – there
are a number like it from various places near the bottom of page 2 of Modern Variations.
Cows are certainly a good advertisement for a dairy products company, albeit few of them seem to
have actually used them. This delightful little made-in-China plastic guy pretty obviously
comes from Horizon Organic, which I must admit I hadn’t heard of until I got this little beauty for
the hefty sum of $.99. They’ve got a neat web page, full of games for kids and stories about
their farms as well as products, and a history section that tells us that they “began in 1992 with
a cooperative of small organic dairy farms in Wisconsin,” when “natural products industry veterans,
Mark Retzloff and Paul Repetto, embarked on a search for organic milk in order to make organic
dairy products available in the marketplace.” Given the growing interest in organic products,
these days they “proudly source organic milk from over 500 family farms and cooperatives across the
country, and that number is growing every day. We have contributed to converting hundreds or
thousands of acres to organic farmland. We continue to help hundreds of farmers throughout the
country transition to organic production to help provide more great tasting certified organic dairy
foods to our consumers.” This little plastic ad must be mighty proud! And Mark and Paul
must be doing very well. The ad for another of these creamers on eBay in late 2011 added that
Horizon Organic is owned by Dean Foods, and its products distributed by White Wave Foods.
The base of this lovely cow reads “Though only a cow I feel quite proud for I bring you pure milk
from the Dairy of Frowd”. A web search didn’t turn up any stories about a farm by this name, but I
did manage to find a late 19c picture of dairy men in front of the Charles F. Frowd dairy shop at 36
Western Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, at http://www.1066online.co.uk/gallery/old-photos/36-western-road.
Interestingly, this creamer isn’t British-made, but rather is stamped on the bottom for Royal Dux, a
company in the town of Duchov in then Bohemia, now the Czech Republic. Their wares are apparently
quite highly regarded and there are several articles on the web with information for Royal Dux
Here is an clever little ad for milk from Swanage, a coastal town in the far southeast of Dorset that since the
Victorian era has been a very popular tourist destination. The Swanage dairy owner had an
interesting sense of humor, note the placement of the udders.
Here's another cow proudly advertizing milk, this time from the US: this beautiful classic German creamer proudly bears the gilded name of “Johnson’s
Pasteurized Milk” While some form of purifying milk has been around for centuries, the
‘pasteurization’ process was developed by Louis Pasteur in 1864 and became commercialized around the
late 19c and early 20c. The debate about the relative merits (and dangers) of raw and pasteurized
milk rages on, but the US Public Health Service developed what’s now called the ‘Pasteurized Milk
Ordnance” in 1924, as a basic standard for the states to adopt as a way of preventing milk borne
disease. My guess therefore is that Mr Johnson chose to tout the cleanliness and healthiness of his
product sometime after that, but well before WWII, which would match pretty well with the period in
which cow creamers like this were being produced.
Here’s an interesting modern variant, carrying both the logo (LBL) and web address of Lampire
Biological Laboratories. Following the directions on the collar, we find that LBL “specializes in
polyclonal and monoclonal antibody development, cell culture devices and services, and a wide
variety of blood-derived products. Founded in 1977, the Pennsylvania based company offers an
extensive line of secondary antibodies, purified IgGs, human and animal blood products, plus a
comprehensive line of animal tissues and organs. The latest product releases include New Zealand
sourced animal blood products, the gas-permeable LAMPIRE® Cell Culture Bag and exclusive antibodies
to chemotherapeutic agents. Support services include peptide synthesis, antigen design, antibody
purification, custom conjugation, and immunoassay development. In addition, Lampire has earned
primary vendor status with biopharmaceutical, diagnostic, and medical device manufacturers
worldwide.” Presumably the cow has offered its blood and parts for the company.
Here’s a British take on the cow as advertisement…with your stock in Dairy Crest comes this gift
and the wish to “milk your money for all it’s worth”.
Another Brit: This bull has two stories to tell. First, it came to me from the Isle of Man. Although it
wasn’t made there, it is the first one in my collection that arrived from that island (I have since seen quite a few of these creamers on ebay, but it's more fun and informative to have mine come from that island). From
Wikipedia we learn that the Isle of Man, which has been inhabited since before 6500 BCE, is
located in the middle of the northern Irish
Sea. It is a is a self-governing British Crown Dependency. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann and is represented there by a Lieutenant Governor. The island’s foreign relations and
defence are the responsibility of the British Government. while its own parliament and government
have competence over all domestic matters. The island’s parliament, Tynwald, claims to be the oldest continuously existing ruling body in the
world. Second, this is the bull of Colman’s mustard, one of my favorites, as well apparently of
the Manx. The ‘Colman’s of Norwich’ web site tells its story: Jeremiah Colman , a flour miller,
took over a mustard company based on the river Ytas, 4 miles south of Norwich, in 1814. His
business prospered, and in 1903 the company bought its rival mustard manufacturer, Keen &
Son. In 1995 Colman’s was bought by Unilever who wisely has retained the name and its symbols.
The bull’s head was introduced in 1855 to symbolize tradition and quality…and I’m delighted to
welcome this one to my collection.
And here are a couple of Australian examples. The dairy one seems pretty straightforward, but the
wine connection is less clear, at least to me. Perhaps the good folks from Grevillea Food and Wines of New South Wales will stumble
across this web page and offer an explanation (and a bottle?).
“Moo-Cow” creamers were all the rage in the 1970s. They are all marked on the bottom for Whirley
Industries, Inc. of Warren PA. I’ve had some fun digging a bit into their history, with the help of
one of their founders and some material that I was able to find on the web.. The company started
when two young men who were classmates at Dartmouth College (Class of 1954), one from Warren and the
other from New York City, got back together and decided to start a business in Warren in 1960. Their
first endeavor was building and repairing Laundromats (‘Whirley Wash’). That went so well that they
hired professional help for the repair work, moved into becoming distributors, and then decided to
expand by selling coin operated car washes. Then in the late 1960s they heard about some molds for
plastic salt and pepper shakers that hadn’t sold well and were available for sale near Boston. That
got them started in the plastics business. After a fairly slow start a distributor came up with the
idea of putting samples on restaurant tables at no cost to the owners, and customers started buying
them. They became very popular and opened up new markets for the company. Then they got a call from
another distributor friend who told them that the salt and pepper shakers were the best product he’d
seen since a ceramic cow creamer that he had sold. By that time the ‘Whirley’ boys were seriously
into the plastic molding business, so they turned to their chief engineer who designed the moo-cow
creamer, based on a ceramic one that they thought came from England (I believe the ceramic creamer
from which they took the idea was identical or at least similar to my own first cow creamer, and was
actually made in the US). Following the successful pattern of the salt and pepper shakers, they
marketed them in the 1970s through restaurants and gift shops, with the further embellishment of
customized place or restaurant names and designs on the front panel. Most were brown, some yellow,
some with white bottoms, and a few were purple. At the suggestion of a customer they added a straw
hole in the back of the cow’s head. They manufactured and sold over 10 million of them, which not
only made them a lot of money and firmly implanted them in the plastics business, but brought the
name Whirley a lot of recognition. As you can see from these pictures they added a (less successful)
syrup dispenser, and sold them as sets as well as through the restaurants. One of their historical
notes states that when interstate highways displaced the state highways in the ‘80s the business of
selling through restaurants deteriorated and they had to discontinue the cows and redesign their
product line. Their next major idea was the original travel mug…and the success story went on from
there. In 2004 they acquired a company called DrinkWorks! which had developed manufacturing
facilities in China…and today as Whirley-DrinkWorks! they remain happily designing and delivering
food and beverage products from their headquarters that remains in Warren, PA. And while they
haven’t made moo-cow creamers for the last couple decades, these plastic cows remain one of the more
readily available and popular items on eBay.
Here's a Canadian version of the same idea - from Fifth Wheel Truck Stops.
What worked in plastic also seemed to catch on in ceramics. These made-in-Japan versions come
marked for many different states…perhaps all 50, who knows.
Whirley is, however, far from the first to use a cow for a souvenir. Here are two examples of
British Jackfield creamers (they have the place name on one side and the traditional gold markings
on the other), “A Present from Abertillery”, and “A Present from Teignmouth”. I also have one from
Skegness, see the Jackfield theme…and who knows how many other British destinations also used the
popular cow creamer to lure tourists into a purchase.
These creamers, and a question from one of my cow-respondents, led me to wondering when and why
such souvenir cows became popular. One clue comes from the locations where they were purchased –
e.g. in the case of these Jackfield cows, Teignmouth is on the coast of Devon, Skegness on the coast in
Linclonshire, and Abertillery is very near the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. A quick look
at many of the other souvenir creamers, especially the Pre-WW I ones from Britain, indicates that
they also hail from seaside or similar locations that became popular vacation spots in the
Victorian era (1837-1901). A little googling quickly led me to some articles by Prof. John Walton
of the University of Central Lancashire that traced the history and popularity of the ‘British
Seaside Resort’…as well as to a July 2013 article in the Telegraph that discussed the propensity of
the Brit’s to bring home a souvenir to remind them of the pleasures of their vacations. The
burgeoning popularity of such vacations in the Victorian era can be attributed to a combination of
the social changes of the time and the rapid expansions of the British rail system, starting in the
1840s, that enabled the middle and working classes to afford transportation to the resorts. The
introduction of bank holidays in 1871 further increased the opportunities for summer vacations, and
in turn the amenities of the seaside and other resorts expanded to help attract and expand the
working class holiday market in places like Blackpool and Southend. Certainly cow creamers weren’t
the only vacation souvenirs - candy, posters, post cards, and a wide range of china with crests or
pictures of the resort were all very popular – but cow creamers were fashionable on their own in
those days, so they naturally became part of the souvenir trade. And, as is evident from the
examples on this page of my web site, the Germans were quick to take advantage of this market,
especially before WW I but also in the between-war years in the 20s when, as discussed further
below, their products bore the stamp ‘foreign’ to avoid the post-war British antipathy for German
Here is a great testimony to the connections between British seaside holidays and souvenirs
including popular cow creamers. This lovely German-made creamer is from a mold that I hadn’t seen
before, and was at one time the prized souvenir of someone who visited the “Promenade from Ross
Castle, Cleethorpes”. Cleethorpes is on the coast in North Lincolnshire, and the visitoruk.com site
informs us that “Situated on Cleethorpes' promenade in the heart of the town, Ross Castle appears to
be the ruins of an ancient castle but it is in fact a Victorian folly, built in 1863. As Cleethorpes
was being developed as a holiday resort, following the arrival of the railways in the 19th-century,
the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincoln Railway Company built a mile long promenade here to prevent
continuing coastal erosion of the cliffs on which the town was sited. Above the promenade the rail
company decided to build the mock ruin as a visitor attraction and it was named Ross Castle after the
company's secretary Mr. Edward Ross.”
It’s only to be expected that the British Channel Islands, Jersey and Guernsey, famous for their
cows, would also use them as popular souvenirs. Here are two bearing the islands’crests. (see
Miniatures for some other cute examples from these two Islands)
And here are three more sets of Jersey cows. Jersey actually seems to be more avid about this
aspect of promotion than Guernsey.
Here however are a couple more Guernsey examples, small German luster-glazed porcelain creamers
bearing the Post WW I Foreign stamp and featuring transfer photos of the coast (blue cow) and St
Peter Port and Harbor.
Here’s a not atypical British approach to souvenir cow creamers - import them. These 2 little guys are
both stamped for Germany. I included the one with the single rose in the Miniatures section, and
only later acquired the Letterkenny souvenir and noted that the creamers were identical but fore
Here’s another imported example…this cute present from Great Yarmouth, although unmarked and in a
Cornish dress, is almost certainly made in Germany…there’s one like it stamped for Germany but
without the souvenir mark near the bottom of page 3 of Modern Variations. I was delighted to get
this one – at £3.97, less than a tenth of the price of the other one, it was a super bargain. Makes
me feel almost sorry for the seller, but that’s eBay...
The Staffordshire factories are in the souvenir game as well of course. Here’s two that are
obviously from the same mold, and presumably the same maker. The darker brown one is simply marked
for Clovelly, which is on the coast of North Devon. I find from Hertiage Britain that “The
picturesque, ancient, fishing village of Clovelly is uniquely special in that it has no cars and no
individually owned houses. Its flower-strewn cottages "tumble like a waterfall" down a cleft in the
400' cliff along cobbled streets to the tiny working port and C14th quay.” It’ll be a ‘must’ for
our next visit to the UK. Of course, the right time to visit Devon has to be the second Tuesday in
September, which is when the Widecombe Fair – advertised on the light brown creamer – is held. The
picture depicts Uncle Tom Cobley and his friends riding to the fair on on a grey mare … from an
old Devon folk song which you can find at http://www.spreyton.org.uk/tom_cobley.htm. Wikipedia informs us that “The phrase ‘Uncle Tom Cobley and all’ is used in British English as a humorous or whimsical way of saying et al., often to express exasperation at the large
number of people in a list”, since the song ends with Tom listing all his buddies. This creamer is
marked, thankfully: for “H A Wain & Sons Ltd, Melba Ware, Stoke on Trent” whose factory
in Longton, Stoke on Trent, opened in 1946. Thanks to them for leading me to this information.
From the Victorian era (1837-1901) - when cow creamers were extremely popular – up until around up
until sometime after WWI, probably into the early 1930s, German porcelain makers produced some very
lovely souvenir cow creamers with quite detailed picture-transfers on their sides. This was a quite
expensive process, I’m told, and as shown further down this page the more modern souvenir cows bear
decals, paintings, writing, or some other less costly embellishment. These two cows serve as a good
example of the lovely German ones that now form such a large herd in my collection – some purchased
one at a time, and then an additional 35 or so acquired from the extensive collection of a Belgian
gentleman. In addition to their quality, I like them because of the stories they have to tell
about the places in England and on the continent that they memorialize. For example, here the
black and white cow is from Plauen, a city in Saxony that was founded by Polabian Slavs in the
12thC. The picture depicts Friedensbrücke, the world’s largest stone arch bridge (Wikipedia has
great write-ups about many German cities, and is the source for most of my brief descriptions). The
brown cow is from Baden-Baden in the western foothills of the Black Forest, famous for its baths
since Roman times.
This seems to be a popular mold for these German transfer-picture cow creamers. This one showing the
Heidelberg Schloss (Castle) has an unusually large and well done picture. The very nice write-up
about this castle in Wikipedia notes that “The earliest castle structure was built before 1214 and
later expanded into two castles circa 1294; however, in 1537, a lightning-bolt destroyed the upper
castle. The present structures had been expanded by 1650, before damage by later wars and fires. In
1764, another lightning-bolt caused a fire which destroyed some rebuilt sections.” It has only been
partially rebuilt since, yet it became a popular tourist attraction early in the 19c and especially
after the railroad system reached Heidelberg in 1840. Count Graimberg who was instrumental in its
preservation at the time popularized it with early pictures and souvenirs of which this cow – likely
from the late 19c – is an example.
Here are three creamers from one of my favorite molds, which apparently also appealed to lots of
others since it has appeared in many variants (I think I must have at least a dozen), both with and
without the souvenir or advertising pictures. The lighter brown cow on the left depicts the main path or allee
in the important European Baroque Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen, one of the most famous sights in
Hanover (or Hannover) which is on the River Leive and is the capital and largest city of Germany’s
Lower Saxony. The darker brown cow with the red ribbon in the center brings ‘Greetings from Basel’, on the Rhine
River in northwestern Switzerland, near the borders of France and Germany and with suburbs in both of
those countries. Basel is known today for its museums and university as well as its history of
commerce and culture. On the right is Regensburg, located in SE Germany at the confluence of the Danube, Naab and Regen rivers. Its medievval center became a UNESCO world heritage site in 2014. Pictured is the city's cathedral, St Pater's Church.
Three more lovely early German transfer souvenir cows. The brown one was made for “The Beach,Southend on Sea” in the UK. It becaume a popular tourist resort when the railways finally arrived in late 19c, and after Princess Caroline of Brunswick visited. It features the world's longest leisurte pier. Tourism has declined significantly since the 1960, as other venues have became more affordable. It's sort of out of place here because its two black partners come from quite close to each other in Saxony. One features Schloss Augustusburg in Erzgebirge which translates to Ore Mountains. These served as the border bnetween Saxony and Bohemia from the 12c to 20c, and now are along the divide between Germany and the Czech Republic. Zwickau is in a valley at the weatern foot of the Erzgebirge Mountains, and is the center of the Saxon auto industry. Its souvenir cow displays its main market.
Yet more – on the left, the churches and towers of old Stassfurt, in the Salzandkreis district in
Saxony-Aanhalt, Germany – previously one of the chief seats of the German salt=producing industry.
In the middle, a ‘view from the bridge’ of the Morada Hotel Ardensee, in Kuhlungsborn, a Baltic Sea
spa town. And on the right, the market and town hall in Strzelin, Slask, southwestern Poland – but
since these lovely creamers all pre-date WW II, German names were used, thus Strehlen in Schlesien
(us Yanks would say Silesia)
And still more, all German made with one a UK souvenir. Here’s what they teach us: In the shot of
two, the larger hails from Landau in der Pfalz which is in the wine region of southern
Rhineland-Palatine. This town was first settled in 1106, albeit the pictured Hauptbahnhof – railroad
station – dates from considerably later. The little one depicts St Mary’s Lighthouse which
(according to Wikipedia) “is on the tiny St Mary's (or Bait) Island, just north of Whitley Bay on the coast of North East England. The small rocky tidal island is linked to the mainland by a short concrete causeway which
is submerged at high tide. The lighthouse and adjacent keepers' cottages were built in 1898 by the
John Miller company of Tynemouth,
using 645 blocks of stone and 750,000 bricks. It was built on the site of an 11th-century monastic
chapel, whose monks maintained a lantern on the tower to warn passing ships of the danger of the
rocks. The lamp was powered by paraffin, and was not electrified until 1977, St Mary's was by then
the last Trinity House lighthouse lit by oil. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1984.” The cow
with the bell – one of my favorite molds and similar to one in the section above – comes from
Wurzburg which is in Franconia, Northern Bavaria, on the Main River. Among notable aspects of its
history were witch trials from 1626-1631, and a firebombing by the British in 1945. It has since seen
lots of restoration.
The lovely German porcelain souvenir creamers were popular in the UK as well as in Germany. In the
top picture here are examples from Berlin (black backed cow), Bad Reichenhall (brown back – a spa
town in Upper Bavaria), and – the white cow – West Beach, Bournemouth, UK. The middle picture has
two more from Germany – Burg Sorenwald on the left and Dessau (at the junction of the rivers Mulde and Elbe) on the right – and the bottom picture
shows two from the UK , from similar molds but with very different coloring and glaze – Blackpool
from Central Pier in brown, and the famous Palace Pier, Brighton in white.
The well molded and realistic cow on the left pictures Rue Leopold Robert in La Chaux-des-Fonds, a
Swiss city in the canton of Neuchâtel. It is located in the Jura mountains at an altitude of 1000 m,
a few kilometres south of the French border. Wikipedia tells us that “The city was founded in 1656.
Its growth and prosperity is mainly bound up with the watch making industry. It is the most important
centre of the watch making industry in the area known as the Watch Valley.” On the right is a quite
distinctive and unusually shaped cow picturing Innsbruk, the capital city of Tyrol in western
Austria. “ Innsbruck is an internationally renowned winter sports centre, and hosted the 1964 and
1976 Winter Olympics as well as the 1984 and 1988 Winter Paralympics. Innsbruck also hosted the first
Winter Youth Olympics in 2012. The name translates as "Inn bridge”
Here and in seven following sections are 35 German transfer-picture creamers I acquired from the
extensive collection of a Belgian gentleman. The information about their pictures is largely derived
from Wikipedia. Most of them are souvenirs from cities in Belgium and Germany, but these seven all
are from the UK. From left to right, starting with the rear row (the brown cows), they picture
“Scarborough – South Bay”; “The North Bay Scarboro” (yes, same town on the North Sea Coast of North
Yorkshire, different spelling); and “The New Front – Southend-on-Sea”. The middle row, again left to
right, brings us “A Present from Cambridge – St John’s College Bridge”; “A Present from Bournemouth –
West Beach Bournemouth”; and “Rough Sea at Brighton”. I’ve been there in that kind of weather, and
it’s not at all pleasant! And the little white cow in front advertises “West Promenade from Douglas
to M…”, so presumably it is from Douglas, the largest city and capital of the Isle of Man.
Here are four from German cities, all on essentially identical cows: from left to right again,
“Gernsbach”, in the Black forest, noted for its paper industry; “Gerstetten – Postamt and
Bohmenstrasse” which is in Baden-Wurtemberg in southern Germany; “Merseburg - Schloss u.
Waterloobrundie”, a town in the south of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt on the river Saale; and
“Friedrichroda – Wilhelmsplatz” which is at the north foot of the Thuringian Forest.
On the left is a souvenir cow picturing ”Kaiser Wilhelm – Denkmal, Hohensyburg”, or the memorial
to Kaiser Wilhelm I in this town near the confluence of the Ruhr and Lenne. Next is one from
“Triberg i.bad.Shwarzwald” which is in the Black Forest, and boasts a series of waterfalls on the
Gutach River that are among the tallest in Germany. In the shot of three, on the left is a cow
from “Mergertheim Karlsbad”, in Wurtemburg in the valley of the Tauber, site of a magnificent
castle with archives of the Teutonic order, and residence of its Grand Master until its dissolution
in 1809. In the middle we find “Heidelberg von der Terasse”, on the river Neckar in SW Germany,
known for the Heidelberg Man. It escaped bombing in WWII because the allies wanted to us it as a
garrison base. On the right is a cow from “Wildemann/Harz” in Lower Saxony, noted for its flora
The two in the left picture are from one of my favorite molds. They have some flaws from shipping,
but they are lovely nonetheless. On the left is a creamer from “Kur bad Lippspringe”, featuring a
health spa in this town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, which was a Templar stronghold in the
13th century. Its partner is from “Bad Nauheim, Tetchhaus”, a world-famous resort in the Hesse
state of Germany, noted for its salt springs and ‘effervescent’ bath used to treat heart and nerve
diseases. In the right hand photo we first find a souvenir of “Das National Denkmal, Auf Den
Niederwald” which is also in the Hesse state. The monument was built in the 1870/80s to commemorate
the unification of Germany; Kaiser Wilhelm I laid the first stone on September 16, 1871. To the
right is a cow representing “Gruss Aus Altenburg” in Thuringia, Germany.
On the far left is a cow sporting “Marienplatz m. Rathaus, Munchen” or the city hall & St.
Mary’s Square in Munich, the capital of Bavaria. To her right is “Bad Ems”, a bathing resort on the
river Lahn in Rheinland Pfalz, Germany. On the far right a cow without distinct eyes displays
“Andebken a.d. Drachenhohle B/Plauen l/v.c.” over “Walhalla”, basically a souvenir of the Dragenhole
in Plauen, a town in the Free State of Saxony . Walhalla is a hall of fame honoring distinguished
people in German history, above the Danube east of Regensburg in Bavaria. The fourth cow in this
section is our first from Belgium, showing “Blankenberghe Grand Hotel” located in this North Sea
coastal town that is noted for its long beach, promenade, pier, busy marina, and art nouveau
Here are four creamers from Belgian cities. The two nearly identical ones in the left photo are
both from La Panne, on the North Sea coast of the Belgian province of West Flanders. The Belgian
royal family lived here during WWI because it’s in the tiny fraction of the country that wasn’t
conquered by the Germans. The cow on the left sports “La Digue, Les Villas Royales”, and its mate
features “La Digue et la Plage”. Apparently the Dike is a prominent and popular feature. In the
right photo, the cow with black hooves is a souvenir of “Rallye Vielsalm, La Meute” For those who
are stuck with just English, it depicts ‘the pack’ at a fox hunt in Vielsalm, a Walloon municipality
of Belgium in the province of Luxembourg. Its colleague advertises “Valee de la Warche, Le Pont de
Outre - Le Pont a Malmedy” The Warche is a river in the eastern Belgian province of Liege, which
flows through the village of Malmedy, site of a massacre of American POWs by Nazi SS troops during
the Battle of the Bulge.
These four are from a variety of European locations. The little white one on the left with the
picture of “Geneve et le Mont Blanc” is quite obviously from Switzerland. Her bilingual
(Dutch/French) companion states “Antwerpen Anvers, De Hoofdkerk, La Cathedral” and comes from the
capital of the Antwerp province of Flanders Belgium, the 2nd largest port in Europe. The grey and
black cow displays the “Rathaus Breslau”, formerly in Lower Silesia of Germany and now known as
Wroclaw, Poland. The reddish-brown cow bears “Barackenlager” beneath the picture of the barracks,
and “Gruss von Fruppen-Ubungsplatz Elsenborn” on its belly, basically Greetings from the training
camp in Elsenborn, Belgium. This town is noted for the Battle of Elsenborn Ridge in the Ardennes
Forest, the only sector of American front lines in the Battle of the Bulge where the Germans failed
To complete the roster of the German cows from the Belgian collection, we start with one more from
England, the second of my souvenirs from Cleethorpes showing the Promenade from Ross Castle, the mock
ruin built in 1863 by the railway as a tourist attraction, and named after its then president. The
little grey and black cow with the bell pictures “Dinant – Fort, Citadelle et Eglise”. Dinant is a
Walloon city on the River Meuse in Belgium, and the 11c Citadel and Gothic 13c Collegiate Church of
Notre Dame de Dimant are its major sights., And last but by no means least, another cow from one of
my favorite molds, is from ”Montaigu, La Basilique Façade, Scherpenheuvel, de Basiliek, Voorgevel”.
This ‘sharp hill’ is the most important Roman Catholic pilgrimage site in Belgium, located some 50 km
east of Brussels. Wikipedia tells us that its origins date back to the pagan worship that still
survived during the Middle-Ages around a holy oak on the hilltop, The cross-shaped tree was
‘Christianized’ with a statue of the Holy Mary.
These beautifully crafted cows bear at least a family resemblance to the German crested
transfer-picture creamers. In this case however, we know that they’re French from the
‘Porcelaine de France’ stamp (can’t identify the mark) on the hoof of the larger cow. It bears a
picture of “Le Treport – avant port Eglise” I bought it on eBay from a group called
Plucky Maidens of Portland, Oregon. Among other things they lead shopping tours to the flea markets
of Paris. They said that this cow came from the Porte de Vanves ‘marche aux puces’ in the 14th
arondissement (weekends only, and it can be reached on line 13 of the Paris Metro should you care to
visit - it’s purportedly one of Paris’s best). Wikipedia informs us that Le Treport is “a small
fishing port and
industrial town situated in the Pays de Caux, some 21 miles (34 km) northeast of Dieppe … The mouth of the Bresle river meets the English Channel here, in between the high (110 metres)
chalk cliffs and the pebbly beach. Le Tréport is also a sea-side resort and home to a casino.” They also note
that it was the location for the “2014 French police thriller Witnesses (Les Tremoins).”
. The similar but smaller cow here has a black stamp on the belly with the same maker’s mark as well
as “Made in France”, and its picture is of nesting storks. It was also an eBay purchase, but without
the pleasure of an interesting story since it came from the un-exotic city of Houston TX. My wife
and I haven’t seen nesting storks in France, but we have spent quite some time watching them in
places like Hungary, Estonia, and Uzbekistan.
These three similar cows, as well as the two below and the mustard, salt & pepper boat, all came
to me via the ‘catawiki.com’ auction site from the extensive collection of the Belgian gentleman from
whom I also got a large herd of German transfer creamers.
All of these bear the ‘Porcelaine de France’ symbol shown above, some on the hoof, some on the belly.
The cow on the left hails from ‘the little port’: “Le Portel – la plage, vue des falaises”, according
to Wikipedia ‘a tourist, fishing and light industrial town about 2 miles southwest of Boulogne. It
has a beach and the white cliffs of the English coast can be seen across the sea on clear days. The
original Le Portel was a hamlet east of Outreau. It became an independent municipality on June 13,
1856 by an imperial decree of Napoleon III. In the 19th century, flint tools were discovered in the
centre of the village, by the river near the Hamel Bridge, evidence of the long occupation of the
site.’ The middle cow displays “Malo – les bains, la plage” which I assume is the famous
past-privateering center and now tourist destination of Saint Malo, a walled port city in Brittany in
northwestern France on the English Channel. The cow on the right shows “Dieppe – Vue generale prise
de l’eglise St Jacques”. Dieppe is a coastal community in the Normandy region of northern France, a
port on the English Channel, at the mouth of the Arques river, famous for its scallops and with a
regular ferry service to Newhaven in England. Dieppe has a popular pebbled beach, a 15th-century
castle and the churches of Saint-Jacques and Saint-Remi.
The cow on the left simply bears a picture of a sailboat. The one on the right has “Lille – la
bourse et le theatre”. Lille is in French Flanders, on the Deûle River, near the border with
Belgium. Wikipedia states that “the legend of "Lydéric and Phinaert" puts the foundation
of the city of Lille at 640. Lille's Dutch name is Rijsel, which comes from ter ijsel (at the
island). The French name has the same meaning and comes from l'île (the island).” The cute little
mustard, salt & pepper boat – which came with the cows – features “Nice – La Promenade des
Anglais”. Our Wikipedia source explains that “Starting in the second half of the 18th century, the
English aristocracy took to spending the winter in Nice, enjoying the panorama along the coast. In
1820, when a particularly harsh winter up north brought an influx of beggars to Nice, some of the
English proposed a useful project for them: the construction of a walkway (chemin de promenade) along
the sea. It was paid for by the Rev. Lewis Way. The city of Nice, intrigued by the prospect of a
pleasant promenade, greatly increased the scope of the work. The Promenade was first called the Camin
deis Anglés (the English Way) by the Niçois in their native dialect Nissart. After the annexation of
Nice by France in 1860 it was rechristened La Promenade des Anglais.”
These five are from the second batch of French porcelain cow creamers that I got from a Belgian
gentleman’s collection via the Catawiki auction site. From left to right they represent cities as
follows, information courtesy of Wikipedia: Honfleur is in northwestern France, across from Le
Havre on the southern bank of the Seine estuary. This cow displays the 18c Lieutenancy building
which is at the entrance to the old harbour, initially home to the Lieutenant of the king, later
the commerce tribunal, then the local governor. Next is a cow from Domrémy in northeastern France,
now called Domrémy-la-pucelle in honor of the Virgin of Orleans, Joan of Arc, whose birthplace home
is pictured. This cow (I assume it’s a heifer) must be very proud to be so honored. In the second
picture, on the left is a cow from the old city of Metz which is in northeast France near the
junction with Germany and Luxembourg. It has variously been “a Celtic oppidum, an important
Gallo-Roman city, the Merovingian capital of the Austrasia kingdom, the birthplace of the
Carolingian dynasty, a cradle of the Gregorian chant, and one of the oldest republics in Europe.
The city has been steeped in Romance culture, but has been strongly influenced by Germanic culture
due to its location and history.” Pictured is the fortified city gate ‘Door of the Germans’ which
formerly served as a bridge over the river Seille. The next cow bears the UNESCO World Heritage
commune of Mont Ste Michelle, located just off the coast of Normandy. My wife and I have been
among its 3 million plus visitors per year. Last in this group is a cow honoring the lake at
Gererdmer, now a ski resort in northeast France near the German border.
My first batch of these French creamers came with a boat-shaped holder for salt, pepper and mustard.
In this group the condiments are housed on the back of a large cow, which with its creamer companion
hails from Nancy in northeast France, formerly the capital of the Duchy of Lorraine. Pictured on both
cows is Place Stanislaus, built in the mid 18c by Stanislaus I of Poland to connect the medieval old
town with the ‘new town’ built by Charles III in the 17c. These days it’s a World Heritage Site.
Here’s another Made in Germany (indeed, it has a red stamp on it’s butt that says as much) beauty,
that comes from the shop of M.A. Ryan of Blackthorne House, Cork Ireland (so says a stamp on its
belly) and features Blarney Castle. Built in the 1400s by the great Irish Chieftain Cormac
MacCarthy, the castle is world famous for its Stone of Eloquence…proudly proclaimed on this little
cow’s transfer print as “There is a stone there that whoever kisses Oh! He never misses to grow
eloquent”. My wife visited but thankfully failed to kiss the stone, since the advertised ‘eloquence’
often turns out to simply be verbose blather.
Naturally enough, there had to be a Jersey cow (in case you can’t tell from the coloration it says
so on the right flank in gold) made in this very popular but expensive photo-transfer fashion. Here
the picture is of the castle of Mont Orgueil, constructed (per the Wikipedia article) following the
division of the Duchy of Normandy in 1204, and defending the harbor of Gorey on the east side of the
island. The castle lost its warfighting utility after gunpowder came into regular use, since there is
a nearby somewhat higher hill from which it could be easily bombarded. It was then used as a prison
until the end of the 17c, then became run down until it was fixed up for garrison accommodation and
other military and ceremonial uses. It became a museum in the 20c.
Ireland apparently also got in the act – although this pre-WWI souvenir features script as opposed
to a transfer print. From Wikipedia we learn that “Cahersiveen (Irish: Cathair Saidhbhín, meaning "Little Sadhbh's stone ringfort")—alternate
spellings Cahirsiveen, Cahirciveen or Caherciveen—is a town in County Kerry, Ireland. It is located on the River Ferta and is the principal town of the Iveragh Peninsula. Cahersiveen is near Valentia Island and is connected to the Irish road network by the N70 road. It has a population of 1,294 (CSO 2006). The Catholic church in the town is the
only one in Ireland named after a lay person, Daniel O'Connell. It is situated on the slopes of Bentee.
It also contains a decommissioned Royal Irish Constabulary barracks, now a heritage centre.
Cahersiveen was where the first shots of the Fenian Rising were fired in 1867.”. From the local County Kerry tourist
site we learn further that it hosts Caltric music festival in August, and is close to “Ballycarberry
Castle, two ring forts, and Valentia Island”. Sounds like it would still be a fun place to visit.
You might note that a bit further down this page, in the section with a bunch of pictures of souvenir
cows, there’s a very similar one, from Ballinamor Ireland…from post WWI according to the ‘Foreign
Made” stamp on its bottom.
Two more of the lovely early 20c transfer souvenir cows – the brown one of the “Schlosskirche”,
Wittenberg, and the pearlized luster one of Mont St Michel, with the imprint “Importe
de-?-Allemagne” and part of a crest on the bottom of the left front hoof.
Here is another little luster cow, similar mold to the one above, but with a bright orange head
above a thin gold stripe, and a crest inside a white area on its left flank for “Paignton”. I didn’t
notice it at first but there is a faint red “foreign’ stamp on the bottom or its (yes it’s
androgynous) right hind hoof, implying German descent. Wikipedia informs us that “Paignton ... is a
seaside town on the coast of Tor Bay
in Devon, England. Together with Torquay and Brixham it forms the unitary authority of Torbay which was created in 1998. The Torbay area is a holiday destination known
as the English Riviera. Paignton's population in the United Kingdom Census of 2011 was 49,021. It has origins as
a Celtic settlement and was first
mentioned in 1086. It grew as a small fishing village and a new harbour was built in 1847. A railway
line was opened to passengers in 1859 creating links to Torquay and London.” So as discussed
elesewhere, this creamer would appear to be a ‘summer souvenir’ for the working class folks who
flocked to the seaside early in the 20c and then again between the wars. It’s a lovely little cow.
Here are two versions of an interesting variant – both German made after WWI, as evidenced by the
“foreign” stamp. As noted elsewhere, this was used during the post-war period when the Brits were
very keen on acquiring crested or otherwise marked souvenir china, but were reluctant to buy anything
recognizably German. The creamer with the picture of 3 ladies reads “Welsh Costumes”, and has “RHSL”
on the other side; I have no idea what that may mean. The other creamer bears the coat of arms of
Edinburgh…thus here we have a cow that seems to have been popular in both Wales and Scotland. For
those of you with an interest in the arcane, here’s a description of the coat of arms:
“The shield is blazoned as "Argent, a castle triple-towered and embattled Sable, masoned of the
First and topped with three fans Gules, windows and portcullis shut of the Last, situate on a rock
Proper." In other words - the shield is silver or white, and the castle is black stonework with
white joints. It must be shown with three towers each surmounted by a red flag and must have two or
more windows and an entrance coloured red, with a portcullis shown lowered. It stands upon a rock of
stony colours. (The castle has long been a symbol for Edinburgh, the Castle Rock having been
fortified since Neolithic times.) Above the shield is a coronet, appropriate to the statutory Council
of a city. The crest probably derives from the office of Admiral of the Forth, held by the Lord
Provost - "an anchor tethered about with a cable all Proper (that is, in natural colours) set of
a wreath of the colours." This wreath or torse represents cloth coloured in the city’s livery,
silver on one side and black on the other and twisted so as to show three twists of each colour.
Above the anchor is the motto ‘NISI DOMINUS FRUSTRA’ associated with Edinburgh since 1647. The
interpretation is ‘Except the Lord in Vain’ and is a normal heraldic contraction of a verse from the
127th Psalm. Two figures or ‘supporters’ flank the shield. On the ‘dexter’ (the viewer’s left) is the
figure of a young woman with long hair and richly dressed. On the ‘sinister’ (the viewer’s right)
stand a doe.
(The City Of Edinburgh Council, www.edinburgh.gov.uk)”
This is another British souvenir cow from a similar mold, again bearing the Foreign stamp to
disguise its German origin – from Exmouth in this case. It has a sprig of ‘lucky white heather’ on
its left side – a very popular crest on souvenir items. I have found several explanations of why
white heather is considered lucky. For example, we learn from http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/forest/mythfolk/heather.html:
that “The idea that white heather is lucky was popularised by the Victorians and their love of
Scottish traditions. In 1884 Queen Victoria herself wrote about her servant Mr Brown, who
"espied a piece of white heather, and jumped off to pick it. No Highlander would pass by it
without picking it, for it was considered to bring good luck." White heather's luck may have
been attributed to it because of its scarcity, in the same way that four-leaf clovers brought other
Celts luck. Other interpretations include the more romantic notion that white heather grows over the
final resting places of faeries, or the idea that in a country of many ancient battles, white heather
grew on patches of ground where no blood had been shed. Indeed white heather's luck appears
originally to have been associated mainly with battles; in 1544 Clan Ranald attributed a victory to
the fact they had worn white heather in their bonnets, and Cluny of Clan MacPherson attributed his
escape after Culloden to the fact that searchers had overlooked him whilst he slept on a patch of
white heather.” On an even more romantic note, I found a couple sites, including Yahoo answers,
that tell the following tale: “Long, long ago in Scotland, the famous Celtic bard, Ossian, had a
daughter called Malvina. She was beautiful and sweet natured. She won the heart of Oscar, a handsome
warrior. They became betrothed, but Oscar left in search of fame and fortune. Malvina pined for him
and sought solace by telling her father how much she loved her brave warrior, Oscar. On a beautiful
autumn day, the two were sitting on a Highland hillside when a ragged messenger staggered towards
them. He brought the terrible news that Oscar had been killed in a mighty battle. The messenger held
out a spray of purple heather to Malvina - a last gift from Oscar - and told her that he had died
whispering her name and pledging his love. In her grief, Malvina ran over the hillside, weeping
bitterly. Where her tears fell, the purple heather turned pure white. When she saw this, she said
"May this white heather forever bring good fortune to all those who find it". And so, in
Scotland, to this very day, white heather continues to be a token of good luck.” This is much, much
more than you wanted to know, I’m sure…but isn’t it interesting the tales that cows have to tell?
This creamer – from the same mold as the two above from Bournemouth and Brighton, also bears (as do
they) the ‘foreign’ stamp. I find it sort of ironic that although the British public may have been
reluctant to purchase items that were obviously made in Germany, the peddlers were by no means shy
about using German imports as souvenirs for some of their most beloved places…here, Windsor.
These two are identical but for the shape of the hole on top, and only the one on the left – with
the picture of a “Scottish fishwife” - is stamped, for Gemma. From
www.villagenet.co.uk/collectors/crestedchina.html we learn that “Collecting heraldic porcelain
miniatures, or crested china as it is now popularly known, became a national craze in the late
Victorian and Edwardian eras. During the period of its production, around 1880 to1930, it is thought
that around 90% of all homes contained some pieces. Indeed, no holiday or seaside outing was
complete without the purchase of some piece of souvenir porcelain. The introduction of Bank holidays
in 1871, paid holidays for workers and improved wages, combined with improved travel facilities such
as trains, paddlesteamers and charabancs, boosted the sales of souvenirs considerably.”
Apparently the first pottery firm to come up with the ‘crest’ idea was W.H. Goss of Stoke-on-Trent,
and they initiated a national craze. Cheaper products from Germany, Austria etc soon flooded
the market, pushing out the more costly British china.
Here are examples of British and ‘foreign’ crested ware as mentioned above. The Jersey cow is
marked “Grosvenor Ware”, and the City of York creamer is stamped with the crown & shield of
Gemma . They tell an interesting (to me) story. From The Potteries web site we learn that Grosvenor
Ware is a trade name for crested china made by Sampson Hancock & Sons, earthenware manufacturers
at Tunstall 1857-70, then at other works in Stoke and then Hanley. “The company was founded by
Sampson Hancock, a prominent Wesleyan, in 1857 and was renamed S. Hancock & Sons (Potters) Ltd.
in 1935. It closed in 1937, having been put into receivership on 23rd March. It was a relatively
small enterprise, employing around 150 people. Sampson Hancock died on 9th May 1900 and was succeeded
in the business by his sons, Jabez, Harry and Arthur. The company produced tablewares and
fancies for the popular market - its main income being from semi-porcelain and earthenware
tablewares, toilet wares, vases and vitreous hotel wares. Many of the products, including ironstone
china, were for export markets. After WW1 the company increased its production of ornamental and
decorative wares. These included children's wares and doll's heads. Boxed teasets for children were
being produced by 1917 featuring popular nursery rhymes and pictures of children. The company also
produced a range of crested wares, these being marked with the trade name The 'Duchess'
China or The 'Corona' China and Grosvenor Ware. These may have been produced
in quantity to see the company through the war years when skilled labour was unavailable.Pieces
included animals, small decorative dishes and Great War commemoratives, or had English or Welsh
crests. Crested ware appears to have been made until the 1920s.” I had trouble learning anything
about Gemma until I came across another collector’s very interesting and informative website, for
match strikers of all things! (http://www.matchstrikergallery.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/index.html)
There I learned that Gemma crested ware comes from “Victoria” Schmidt & Co. “This Czechoslovakian
porcelain factory was founded by Lazarus and Rosenfeld in 1883. They then sold the business to
Franz Schmidt in 1885. It lost it's independence in 1945 when it merged with two other firms,
Altrohlau Porcelain and EPIAG to become a part of Starorolský Porcelán. Then in 1958 it became part
of Karlovarský Porcelán Stará . Since around 1970 the factory has been used as a training
facility. Outside of it's home territory it is most well known for the Gemma crested ware range,
although a variety of other wares were also produced. The Crown and Shield mark … was used between
1918 and 1945.” In addition to the history of these two companies, what makes this interesting is
that although both creamers seem to be from identical or very similar molds, the Czech-made creamer
is much more detailed and of higher quality (if indeed cheaper) than the Brtitish one. It may well
be that the Jersey cow dates from the ‘war years’ (WW I that is) as discussed above.
Here’s another Gemma beauty, this time bearing the crest of Blackpool. These remain very popular in
the UK, and thus bring quite a nice price.
This seemingly identical creamer bears the crest of Nottingham as well as a mark that reads “Shelly
China, 317, Model of Early Staffordshire Cow Cream Jug”. So apparently there were several
potteries with copies of this mold. From Wikipedia we learn that “Shelley Potteries, situated in
Staffordshire, was earlier known as Wileman & Co. which had also traded as The Foley Potteries.
The first Shelley to join the company was Joseph Ball Shelley in 1862 and in 1896 his son Percy Shelley became the sole proprietor, after
which it remained a Shelley family business until 1966 when it was taken over by Allied English
Potteries. Its china and earthenware products were many and varied although the major output was
table ware. …Shelley is probably best known for its fine bone china “Art Deco” ware of the inter-war years and post-war fashionable
tea ware.” There are Shelly collectors’ clubs in both the UK and US. Howver to me, the most
intriguing point here is the indication that there was a much earlier version of this ‘jug’ – so now
I have to keep looking!
Just when I think I have more than enough examples of one style or maker, along comes one I just
can’t pass up. So, here’s yet one more Gemma creamer, this time not from the UK at all but rather
advertising “Umgungunhlovu, Pietmartinzburg”. As you can imagine this sent me to the atlas, then to
Wikipedia where I learned that “Pietermaritzburg is the capital and second largest city in the
province of KwaZulu-Natal,
South Africa. It was founded in 1838, and is currently governed by the Msunduzi Local Municipality. Its "purist" Zulu
name is umGungundlovu, and this is the name used for the district municipality.” I can’t explain why the
cow has an ‘h’ instead of a ‘d’, but it does… Now, while the folks down there do indeed have cows, I
have a strong suspicion that this souvenir was designed to catch the eye of a British tourist (or
expat? Or Canadian, since it came to me from there). Whatever…as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, one of the
fun aspects of my collection is that you can’t help but learn new things from cows.
While most of the early souvenir creamers were from German or English potteries, other factories
took advantage of their popularity. Here are four from Luxembourg, which I acquired from the large
and lovely collection of a Belgian gentleman. He had more examples, but I decided that these four
would be adequate for me.. The larger ones with their heads raised are both bottom-marked for
“Villeroy & Boch” (as well as “Made in Luxembourg”) which per its web site has had a proud
tradition of “elegance, innovative design and exceptional quality” since 1748. These two aren’t
quite that old, but like others of this genre are likely late 19c or very early 20c. One bears a
transfer picture of their home town, and the other displays the shield of Clervaux, a town and
commune in northern Luxembourg. I assume that the monks bearing the shield are from the nearby Abbey
of St Maurice & St Maur. Villeroy &Boch have fashioned a more modern cow creamer (in Modern
Variations), but as of this posting none are shown on their web site. Of the two more recumbent
cows, one has a picture of Pont Adolphe in Luxembourg and the other simply “SPA” which I am quite sure in
this case refers to the name of the town in Belgium from which the generic term for a curative
mineral spring was derived. The former bears a circular stamp with inside wording that reads “Made
in Luxembourg” around “A.L.” while the SPA cow is unmarked but obviously from the same mold. There is
a more modern cow of theirs, along with more information about V&B (now villeroyboch-group) near the
bottom of the Favortie Brands page.
The more modern (here post-WWII) creamers remained popular as souvenirs but the pictures and crests
are quite a bit less refined, and much cheaper to produce than those with the earlier transfer
process. These six are all from the same mold – and all, I believe, are manufactured by Goebel,
although only the ones from Cham and Tegernsee (both have bells) are marked for them…with the TMK-3
small stylized V-bee, used from 1960-1972. The other four are simply marked in blue (as are the Cham
and Tegernsee cows) “Made in W. Germany”. Part of the fun of these is learning a bit about the towns
they depict, largely via Wikipedia: Hartberg is a small town in Styria, Austria; it was first
referred to as a ‘civitas’ in 1286, but settlements there date back to 3c BC, and presumably the
tower visible on the hill is one of the remnants of that early fortification. Monks founded a church
in the Bavarian forest near Cham (pronounced Kam) in the 8c, and the town itself has borne this name
since late 10c. Wiesbaden is an old spa town on the north bank of the Rhine in Saxony, continuously
occupied since the Romans build a fort there in 6AD. The creamer’s picture depicts the neo-classical
spa-house, built at the request of Kaiser Wilhelm from 1904-07. Butzbach is in Hesse, Germany, and
housed many US Army troops until they pulled out after the end of the Cold War. Tegernsee is a spa
town in Bavaria, about 50 miles south of Munich, on the lake of the same name. Its Benedictine abbey
was founded in 746, and secularized in 1803 at which time it became the summer home of the Bavarian
royal family, the Wittlsbachs.
Here are souvenirs from Rattenberg am Inn (proud of being the smallest town in Austria with 401
inhabitants in 2010, and an area of 0.112 km2, but retaining its medieval character), Timmelsjoch (a
high mountain pass through the Otztal Alps on the border between Austria and Italy), and
Berchtesgaden (both a city and a National Park in the German Bavarian Alps, site of of Hitler’s
‘Eagle’s Nest’ as well as lovely scenery). Thanks to the cows for a bit of a geography lesson.
Here are souvenirs from Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The “Bergenz
Osterreich” creamer with hand painted flowers over the glaze is a small v-bee Goebel. It celebrates the capital city of Voralberg, the western most state of Austria, famous for its music and dance festivals. The little Luxebmourg cow has a decal for Pont Adolphe, the famous double decker arch bridge built between 19090-03 and named for Grand Duke Adolphe who reigned from 1890-1905. I particularly like the little Swiss guy, who names its country in four langruages. Like many Swiss souvenirs I expect it was made in Japan, since I have others like it that bear that imprint.
||Th1s little caricature with the oversized head is a bit of a strange combination: a Polish cow, marked for Siena which is a very popular medieval town and UNESCO World Heritage site in Tuscany, Italy. Why would Italians choose to advertise one of their very lovely old cities with a Polish cow caricature??
This unpretentious little brown cow provided quite a history lesson for me when I went to the web to look up the name on its side. From www.nationmaster.com, with a bit of added spice from wikipedia merged in, we learn that “Hondschoote is a commune of the Nord département in France. It lies on the French side of the Franco-Belgian frontier, just inland from the North Sea. The North Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean, located between the coasts of Norway and Denmark in the east, the coast of the British Isles in the west, and the German, Dutch, Belgian and French coasts in the south. ... In the Middle Ages, Hondschoote was part of the Spanish Netherlands. A thriving wealthy cloth-town, it had thousands of small workshops making serge cloth from locally-grown linen flax. But in the 16th century, when French armies attacked the Spanish army, battles raged over Hondschoote. The French burned and looted the town. The cloth-makers of Hondschoote fled as refugees to what is now Belgium and to England, taking their skills to benefit France's rivals.
“The famous Battle of Hondschoote was a key event in saving the French Republic after the Revolution. It was fought from September 6 through 8, 1793 during the French Revolutionary Wars and resulted in a French Victory under Generals Jean Nicola Houchard and Jean-Baptiste Jourdan against the British under the Duke of York. The English king sent an army via Flanders to capture Dunkerque as a key invasion port to rid the country of revolutionaries. They were joined by troops from Hanover and Austrians from neighboring Austrian Flanders. 40,000 Frenchmen defeated 24,000 British and Hanoverian soldiers, capturing 6 flags and all of the Duke of York's artillery. This strategic victory resulted in the British lifting the siege of Dunkirk. Despite his triumphant entry into the city, General Houchard was later tried and guillotined for failing to pursue the British." Really sweet guys, those French revolutionaries.
This is my only cow from Slovenia – not made there, I’m sure, but a nice souvenir from my visit to
that lovely country nonetheless.
Here are a couple of devilish-looking Austrian souvenirs, the one on the left from Kitzbühel, a
medieval city in the Tyrol, Austria, that’s now a very fancy ski resort. Its picture nicely displays
the old buildings of the town set against the mountains. The one on the right advertises Bruck an der
Mur, in the Austrian state of Styria at the confluence of the Mur and Mürz rivers, founded in 1263.
Once an important medieval trade center, in addition to remaining an important rail and river
junction it’s now known for it’s annual artist and clown festival. The picture shows its famous 15c
Here’s an interesting German contrast to the two Austrian cows’ souvenir pictures - a creamer
advertising Bad Windsheim, which is an even older (~741) small historic town in Bavaria, now known
mostly for its waters, spa, and an open air museum. Why would such a lovely old town choose to show
off such an ugly modern building? There’s another conundrum here as well: this creamer appears to be
from the same mold as the Goebel creamer shown here with it; but it’s unmarked, and bears the black
and gold sticker of E&A Böckling, Neudenau, which is in Baden Württemberg. But…the Marchenhein
Goebel-marked souvenir creamer here bears both the Goebel mark and the E&A Böckling sticker. I
can’t find anything about E&A Böckling on the web; an anyone tell me about them or the
relationship, if any, between them and Goebel?
The French aren’t shy about seeking the cow-loving tourist’s francs (or euros these days)
either…this is a fairly common mold with Delft-like coloring and decorations, marked with a ‘e’ with
a crown on top of it inside a wreath, underneath in script: “Peint a la main, Elvesa, France”.
Somehow the picture of the Eiffel Tower doesn’t look hand painted to me. Nor do the flower sprays.
I guess they mean the little blue slashes…
Nor, it appears, were the French averse to the same sort of German imports that the Brits favored…as
per this lovely example from Cherbourg.
Just as Moo-Cows were personalized for many places in the US, so these crested heads (which bear a
“Foreign" stamp) were popular as souvenirs from many towns around the UK. Here are ones
marked for Southport, Jersey, Exmouth and Blackpool. They were probably manufactured by Saxony China of
Germany, which was operating between about 1900 and 1930. I have seen these from perhaps a dozen
different cities in the UK, and have no idea how many they were actually made for.
Cow creamers seem to be popular souvenirs around the US as well. Here, left to right, are examples
from Ruby Falls of Chatanooga, TN; Ohio; Virginia (this shape creamer has been used for lots of
places); Maggie Valley, NC (which, a kind reader of this site informs me, is “a delightful mountain
community in the Southern Appalachians, just outside the Smoky Mountains National Park…between
Ashville, NC and the Tennessee border”); and Washington, DC.
More from the US. First are a couple of those awful ‘cute’ cows (more of them in the Modern Variations page), one with an emblem that bears horses and ‘Villa Roma Resort Hotel’, which
is a family resort in Callicoon, N.Y. Why would someone put pictures of horses on a cow?? Its neighbor is from Myrtle Beach, SC and at least has a fairly representative seagull on the emblem. It the picture on the right, there are two drastically different approached to designing souvenir cow creamers - the Wisconsin cow is a rather inexpensive ceramic caricature made in Chine. Wisconsin has a plethora of cows, so I'd think they might have found something with a bit more class. At least it's an interesting design. The head creamer is marked for Harbor Springs, which is a small resort community on Little Traverse Bay on NW Lake Michigan. It’s
unusual in that it’s a Royal Bayreuth piece – the only one of theirs I’ve ever seen used as a souvenir. Generally these are too expensive for the tourist trade, so it may be that it was marked by a previous owner. The other unusual thing about it was its price – less than $10 to me, whereas
these lovely Royal Bayreuth creamers typically sell for many times that. You can learn more about
them on the Heads and Favorite Brands pages.
These three, from quite diverse US locations, all have Delft-like coloration. I can sure understand that for Holland MI (that city also has a couple colorful Delft-like ones on the Delft page), but am not sure whi either Hershey Park or Kentucky would do so.
Here are two from DC
I don’t have any idea why Knotts Berry Farm chose to give its cow green ears and hooves.
This pitcher is from the Pearl China Company of East
Liverpool, Ohio, ‘Americas Crockery City’. It is serving as a souvenir from Pike’s Peak and likely dating
from the 1950s. This company’s story is told on the Pitcher page, along with a shot of black and blue
as well as yellow versions of this fierce looking sitting cow. This is the only souvenir version of a cow from this company that I have found - and interestingly, although it bears
their mold mark (635) is does not carry the company’s logo.
Not to be surpassed is the popular tourist attraction of Niagara Falls. Souvenir creamers from
there seem to fall into two categories. Fairly early ones – say through the 1950s – are generally high
quality ceramic or porcelain, and bear a nice circular transfer print of the falls. These three are large V-Bee Goebels, and this mark was used from 1950-1955.
Here is another Niagara Falls souvenir cow creamer with the same well-done circular transfer print, probably from the same era or even earlier. This quite lovely large cow, white with colorful decorations, is German porcelain and bears a “3672, I” imprint.
I suspect that this one is even older than the Goebel or large white cow. It's a brown German porcelain creamer with the location hand-written. This is a popular German
mold, marked “3672, II”. Both it and the larger one above are most likely from Gerold Porzellan. You can read more about them, and see
other examples of their creamers, in Modern Variations..
More recent cow souvenirs from the falls – four
are shown - appear to be less expensive, generally Japanese ceramic, with a rather crude painting
of the falls on their left side. I have to assume that as souvenir cow creamers became less popular, visitors were less willing to pay the higher prices that the quality ones would have
commanded. My wife and I visited the Canadian side of the falls in summer ’07 (finally, after 45
years of marriage) in the hopes of encountering some new versions, but there wasn’t a cow to be
found. Pigs yes…cows no. Tastes do change, and not always for the better.
This small, simple brown and cream cow seems to have nationalistic pride since it celebrates only
the Canadian side of the falls.
This nice porcelain cow is simply marked “Souvenir de St Georges”. I did my normal atlas search,
but it turns out that there are a whole lot of “St Georges” in French speaking regions. I queried the
seller who indicated that it was most likely from the one in Quebec, because it came from the estate
of an elderly lady who lived in Buffalo NY. With that hint, I found via Wikipedia that although it’s
a relatively small city, population just above 30 thousand, Saint-Georges is often considered the
Metropolis of the Beauce
Region of Quebec province because it's the largest city in the area. Its history dates to the
late 1700s, and today it is an important manufacturing centre, including textiles, steel forgings,
garage doors, bicycles and truck trailers, and it also boasts a number of stores and services not
found elsewhere in the region. And apparently it is large enough to sport a souverir or two.
Jumping back across the Atlantic, this very modern little creamer is one of my few Irish
souvenirs – interestingly marked, although only with a yellow and green paper label, “A Present
from the Ronald Reagan, Ballyporeen”. I couldn’t pass it up. The seller noted that this pub is
now gone, the interior having been moved to the Ronald Reagan Library in California. I have
visited this library and it's lovely, but I don't recall the pub.
The Japanese aren’t big on milk, albeit they do appreciate good beef…but even then, that’s usually
associated with Kobe, not Hokkaido. And while this little guy isn’t really a creamer, more a little
pitcher or mug of sorts, he was cute (and cheap) enough that I couldn’t pass him up, especially
because he’s my only souvenir cow from anywhere in Asia.
And last but not least for this section of the collection, here from Skegness is “your ½ a pint”,
and “Cream Straught frae the Coo”.