Wikipedia tells us that “Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands.
Delft is a popular tourist attraction, home to Delft University of Technology regarded as center of
technological research and development in the Netherlands, Delft Blue pottery, and the currently reigning
House of Orange-Nassau...Delftware or Delft pottery, also known as Delft Blue (Dutch: Delfts blauw), is a
general term now used for Dutch tin-glazed earthenware, a form of faience. Most of it is blue and white
pottery, and the city of Delft in the Netherlands was the major centre of production, but the term covers
wares with other colours, and made elsewhere. It is also used for similar pottery that it influenced made
in England, but this should be called English delftware to avoid confusion.”
From the website of De Delftse Pauw, http://www.delftsepauw.com/,
we learn that
“In the sixteenth century, in a number of Dutch towns, factories were established which among their
items produced "Majolica". This "Majolica" was made with a tin-glaze and found its
origins in Italy and Spain. The Dutch East Indian Company began importing porcelain from China in the
seventeenth century. This porcelain, especially the blue and white became very popular.
“The "Majolica" producing factories started at a certain moment to imitate this Chinese
porcelain, because of several reasons. The imported Chinese porcelain meant competition. Civil war in
China made that imports from China went down. Customers asked for specific items which due to distance
took a long time to deliver and due to language problems the delivered item was not always what was
ordered. In Delft, in the seventeenth century 32 factories were producing Delftware. One of them was a
factory called "de Paauw". These factories were often established in beer breweries which had
stopped their production. In the nineteenth century due to competition from other factories like
Wedgewood in England and lack of innovations, the highlight of Delftware had come to a close. Nowadays in
Delft only a few companies still produce the entirely handpainted traditional Delftware. One of these
companies is "de Delftse Pauw". A company which is very loyal to this tradition.”
The Delft City website (www.delft.nl) features a number of factories
that produce the famous pottery; for example the Royal Delft factory, Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles, dating
from 1653, claims to be the only one that has remained operational in the city since the 17c. Their Royal
Delft web site shows colorations that range from the traditional blue to polychrome, pinjacker (red, blue
and gold decorations, based on Japanese Imari), and black.
My collection has a few older or at least reproduction traditional Delft Blue cow creamers. However most
of the really great early Dutch pieces featuring cows are figurines not creamers, so as lovely as they are
they haven’t made it to my collection. Although as noted on the ‘history’ page the Dutch were likely the
first to fashion cow creamers, none that I am aware of were decorated in the ‘Delft’ style. On the other
hand, that style or at least the coloration and decoration of Delft ware became so popular that it was
widely adopted by potteries that were making cow creamers in the 19c and early 20c, so many of the fine
pieces of what I am calling here ‘Delft’ were actually made in Germany or England. In addition, little cow
creamers (as well as many other Delft pieces) make great souvenirs and tin-glazed earthenware is expensive
so almost all of the ‘tourist type’ items, widely available in the city of Delft, are simply decorated in
underglaze blue on a cheap white clay body. Even the term ‘Delft’ is no guarantee that a piece if from
there, since the term isn’t copyrighted and as Wikipedia noted has come to mean the style more than the
actual city. So in many cases despite the markings, the very recent ones come from Japan or China. Some
with ’Delft’ like decorations and style are even souvenirs of other places – not least Holland, Michigan
As a reminder, click on any thumbnail to get a larger picture.
My collection includes a few older ones and a small herd of the modern, mass-produced (if hand
painted!) versions, many of which my wife and I bought in Delft when we visited there in the late
‘90s. This was another trip where we ended up having to buy an extra suitcase…Some of the range of
variation of the traditionally colored blue and white ones is depicted here.
This is my one and only cow creamer that has, I believe, a legitimate claim to be early Delft
Blauw - a lovely example from the late 19c. From what the seller said, the marks attribute this
creamer to the Gebr. (brothers) Tichelaar factory, circa 1880-1895; currently named Tichelaars
Koninklijke Makkumer Aardewerk-en Tegelfabriek (Royal Tichelaar Makkum). This supposedly was the
first mark that they used. They have a neat website with an English version (start at http://www.tichelaar.nl/shop/ceramics.php)
, from which I learned that “On a Spanish map from 1572, today’s location of Royal Tichelaar
Makkum’s factory is already marked ‘bricaria’: a brickyard. It is the oldest proof of the company’s
more than four centuries of uninterrupted ceramic history. By 1670, domestic pottery had replaced
bricks as core business and from 1890 Royal Tichelaar Makkum concentrated on ornamental
earthenware. The family company owes its continuity up to the present day to its appreciation of
tradition, though with an eager eye for innovation.” They do have some cows on their web site
shop, but none that are creamers…and given the current prices for the new ones, the amount I paid
for this old beauty makes it a great bargain.
This lovely blue flowered creamer was fashioned using Mold 795 of the Oud Delft Company, which - from www.sephari.com – we learn was
founded by Roelof Elshout in 1920, as an offshoot of the Potterie Rembrandt in Nijmegen. The factory
passed to his brother Hugo, then to Hugo’s daughter Cora in 1988. In 1996 the company was
incorporated into Aardwerkfabirek’t Delftshce Huys B.V., and moved to Waddinxveen where it still
manufactures earthenware products (albeit I can't find any cow creamers on its web page). I don’t know the age of these creamers, but they certainly date
from before 1968 when the company switched from the hand-painted mark (a stylized potters
wheel) to a printed version. Oud Delft is noted for using an opaque white glaze with no tin
or lead oxide, to mimic a tin-glazed look, over the white biscuit of modern Delftware.
The Oud Delft cow creamers were made in colors as well as the traditional Delft blew. As far as I cvan tell however, they were all from the same mold, and presumably all were made around the same date. As noted above, the company that took this factory over no longer seems to make cow creamers (or cows of any kind), but they do seem to have retained a line they call 'Oud Delft'
Here are two more Oud Delft cow creamers from mold 795. At least the one on the left is that for sure since it has the company's marks like the blue one above. It is also dated, for May 1963. The one on the right is a bit more of a mystery - it is from the same or an identical mold, but has a different, duller glaze(probably tin), and a much rougher texture to the ceramic. The base
bears the initials AL, but the maker’s mark is missing and appears
from scratch marks to have been scraped or chipped off. Why someone would deliberately obliterate it
I don’t know…perhaps it was considered a ‘second’ and the makers wanted to make sure it didn’t carry
their mark? If so, it isn’t clear to me what the problem may have been. The seller, from the UK,
marketed it as Faience, probably Angouleme, @19c; since she sells mostly Faience, and that term
basically means tin-glazed earthenware, so I believe she was mistaken. If not, then perhaps Oud Delft has copied a French cow!
These three modern well made creamers with lids are very similar to each other. The two ion the left appear to be from identical molds, differing only in their lid and the inscription on their bellies indicating that they came from different factories. Both bear the mold indication 2092/4 and "Delfts, Handpainted, Holland". The one on the right had the identical body shape but with a tail against the body instead of in a loop, and bears similar markings.
These two appear to be from quite similar molds, and at least one of them proudly proclaims itself
to be from Holland, as well as having handpainted, Delft on the belly. Its neighbor lacks both
marking and teats, so it could well be from somewhere else.
Here’s a nice and unusual rendition that I believe to be quite modern, and is at any
rate different from many of my other Delft creamers – assuming, that is, that it really is Delft
since many with that moniker refer more to the style of decoration than the locale of manufacture.
It’s hard to know for sure (although it was sold as vintage Delft), since its only markings are
“15” and “F” written in blue, and it cane to me from exotic Arizona. The three flowers with yellow
centers on each side are a nice touch, as are the bright red nostrils, small teats, and ‘lips’.
Looks like it’s wearing lipstick. It is nicely made, with a small lid that bears the tip of the
These two hail from the Regina factory, their mold 1595. The one on the rightis marked for
Tiban-Gouda-Holland, and the red one just “Delft, handpainted, made in Holland”. Each is signed by
the artist – and the chap who painted the one with the lovely flowers on the side had a bit of a
sense of humor since he colored the inside of the ears blue. Wikipedia tells us that "The Regina
pottery factory, Kunstaardewerkfabriek Regina, existed from 1898 to 1979. Located in Gouda, the
factory was established in Queen Wilhelmina's coronation year 1898, hence the name Regina, Latin for
"queen". Initially, the company made earthenware tobacco pipes, like almost all Gouda pottery
factories. The factory was founded by Gerrit Frederik van der Want, a descendant of the Gouda pottery
family Van der Want, and Georges Antidthoine Alexis Barras, a Belgian lender and art collector."
These two, like almost all Regina pottery pieces, bear the founder's initials, WB.
Regina awasn't the only Dutch factory to make colorful versions of the popular Delft-ish
cow creamer. Like many of the ones above, although from different factories as shown by their marks these all come from identical molds. They are clearly marked for their factory or artist, plus "Handpainted, Holland". The
'groen' one has a quite traditional flower on its right, but sports a somewhat fantastic bird on its
left flank, the only one I've seen with that sort of decoration..
Here are a whole bunch of modern ones, mass produced for the tourist trade; again, my wife and I got
many of them actually in the city, both at the factories and at tourist shops downtown. They come in
a wide variety of shapes.
My wife and I acquired the very large (10” tall) pitcher shown in the left photo
above when we visited Delft in 1997. Some 5 years later I got the larger of the two
pitchers shown here, which is from the same mold but with different decoration, and marked
for the “Biltmore Estate Collection, Genuine Delft”. George Vanderbilt, grandson of
Cornelius, visited Ashville NC in 1888, found it ideal for his ‘country home’, and built
the 250 room Biltmore House (‘French Renaissance Chateau’) there between 1889 and 1895.
These days the house and huge estate are a major tourist destination that in addition to
just letting folks gawk at the grounds and house has a luxury hotel, inn, and cottage, and
peddles wine, ‘professional development’ and equestrian activity…in addition to geegaws
like this Delft cow. Its smaller neighbor (a mere 7 ½” tall) is a more recent
acquisition, and is marked “Delft ©Deco, Handpainted Holland”, under a sketch of windmill,
in an outline that looks to me sort of like a snowman. I do have another Delft-ish creamer
similarly marked, so perhaps it really is from Holland.
Here are several more examples of Delft cow creamers made for the tourist trade. They are all marked
for being Delft and handpainted in Holland. The little caricature on the right is for sure one only a
tourist could love – it’s marked in blue with a crown
over “Handpainted, Delftsblauw, 243” so presumably it like all the others here is indeed Delft. I
quick search on ebay for 'delft cow' will turn up dozens like these in a wide variety of shapes and
decorations, as well as many without Delft or Holland markings.
Yet another two, both claiming to be hand painted and made in Holland. I guess I should be pleased
that at least one European country still continues to produce cow creamers for touristic souvenirs.
I do have a few Swiss ones, but almost all the other ‘new’ cow creamers seen to come from Asia these
I’m not quite sure what to make of this little guy – rather crude heavy ceramic, with a belly-stamp
and a silver sticker on the back of its head that reads Holland, hand painted, Delfts Blue, with a
windmill in the background…and also on the sticker and a silver tag, “Origineel Bo-kado”. I can’t find
them on the web…and since none of the terms are copyrighted, it might well be Chinese...but since its
makers went to all the trouble of fashioning the fancy silver tag, I'll give them the advantage of
the doubt and assume it's another Dutch Delft creamer made for the tourist trade.
As noted in the introduction, looking like a Delft-ware cow is no assurance that it is one. In the
image on the left, the largest cow is marked for Japan and the others are unmarked but presumably
from either there or China. The popular Delft blue coloring also seems to work for souvenirs of
places that have no relationship whatsoever to Holland - here Paris with an Eiffel tower, Hershey Park
in Pennsylvania, and even Kentucky, sporting horses.
At least these three have a modicum of Holland legitimacy - Holland, Michigan that is. The colorful
ones are quite nicely done, but whether they were actually made there is somewhat open to debate.
For the rest of this page, I will be featuring Delft ware cow creamers made elsewhere - most of
them in Germany, and many of them from late 19c or early 20c. This lovely group of three large ones
is a good place to start - they are porcelain, realistically molded, and adorned with pictures of an
idyllic Dutch countryside - windmills, farm houses, birds and sailboats. They do not bear any maker's
or national marks, but their style and quality imply that they came from one of the high end German
porcelain factories, when quality cow creamers were popular. From the frequency in which they appear
on ebay this form seems to have been extremely well liked.
Here are three smaller German porcelain cow creamers, somewhat similar in style to the large ones
above, with Delft coloration and decoration. In this case we know for sure they're from Germany
because the bluish ones have it stamped on their belly, and the white one has it imprinted low on its
left side. The one on the far left is a duplicate of my father's cow creamer from when he was a
child, and that dates it to early 20c.
These two beauties are from one of my favorite molds. You will find lots like them in different
sizes and colors, many with souvenir pictures, on other pages. These two are both marked for Germany,
and one has a maker's stamp that looks like it has two hockey sticks.
This is an interesting German pair – German for sure because it’s incised on the right flank of the
larger one, along with a mold mark; the smaller has just a mold mark. These have the decoration on
only one side, but feature ‘birds’ like some of the others fancy ones.
Here are yet more fairly modern creamers with dutch scenery designs...windmills and farm houses.
These are porcelain and most of them are marked for Germany. The one in the right rear in the left
image seems to have a decal rather than a hand painted scene on its left flank. The ones lying down
in the right hand image appear from ebay sales to be the most popular of this lot.
The cow on the left is painted in the traditional Delft fashion, but is from a mold that I hadn’t
seen before. The one on the right is whiter than most that have Delft blue decorations. Neither are
marked, thus very likely not from Holland.
This fairly large and stout cow is marked “Delf” in script on its belly. It’s well molded
porcelain, almost certainly of German origin and early 20c.
Here’s another lovely, realistic porcelain creamer in Delft style with a faint script ‘Delft’ on the
belly. Again, I assume German-made.
This pair appears to be from the same mold although the coloration, decorations and teats are quite
different. Neither are marked, but both are likely from Germany..
To finish off this page, here is a very unusual one, a lovely light blue with no heavy glaze. It
might not even belong in this category except for its decorations. It is marked in script for
W.H.Sechler. I have searched for information about him or her, to no avail.