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Places of Origin

Like most other things these days, the majority of ‘new’ cow creamers, pitchers, and teapots are “Made in China”, irrespective of the brand or designer.  For a while of course Japan had much the same market influence, and a good many are still manufactured there, for companies from many countries.  I’ve included most of those Chinese and Japanese items in the other categories since the place of manufacture is not all that important, albeit some of the ones that seem to bear a unique flavor of Japan or China, and bear no attribution to a ‘foreign’ designer, are included here.

As with my other categories, this one is neither ‘pure’ nor complete.  I have put creamers that come from or are attributed to geographic areas (or types of clay or glaze) that are particularly important for my collection such as “Bennington”, “Staffordshire”, “Jackfield”, and “Delft” in their own separate categories.  Some other country-specific creamers are covered under ‘factories’, e.g. Kent (England) or Schafer and Vater (Germany).   I have completely left the US out of this country-oriented compendium since I’ve integrated the American folk-art and US-manufactured ones into other parts of the collection. Here I try to give examples of creamers that seem to me to be characteristic of their country or region, or for which I have only a few.

 

Canada: I have bought many creamers in and from Canada, but know of few that were made there.  Here are three pictures of Canadian-made creamers; the first from McMaster Pottery which was founded by Ohio-born potter Harry McMaster and his son Robert in 1939 in Dundas, Ontario (it and other McMaster enterprises are now part of the MMG Group). The dark brown one with red drippings in the glaze is particularly interesting because it’s made from red clay, is a souvenir from Ft Macleod, Alberta (just an hour’s drive eat of the Rockies), and still bears the red and gold “McMaster Craft” stamp on its rump.





Second are creamers reflecting the Ukranian heritage of many of the settlers in central Canada – these two, from quite standard molds, bear Ukranian decorations from (l) Ceramic Cottage Vegreville, Alberta, and (rt) Diana May Clay, Ltd of Saskatchewan. 







Third is this orange and black souvenir of Timmins, Canada, which came from Dennis Tupy’s Blue Mountain Pottery which operated in Collingwood, Ontario, from 1953-2004.  There must be more, but these are what I have…

more Canadian cows
brown cow made in Canada
England: England is sort of the ‘home’ of cow creamers, so it’s hard to pick just a few styles for this category (recall [older] Staffordshire etc are elsewhere).  Here are four patterns or molds that seem (at least to me!) to be ‘typically English’ modern, and where a similar (or identical) mold has been used by a number of studios or factories.
Group of English cows lying down

This is a very popular British mold that has been manufactured by a number of companies. Starting with the blue one on the left and going clockwise, the ones in back are marked Tony Wood, Kent, Royal Crownford, Crown Devon, Japan, and Kent.  The blue-patterned ones that say ‘milk’ are (rt, l) from Burgess & Leigh and Frederick Rathbone Burgess, and the red one is Charlotte (the name of the pattern)  by Royal Crownford.  The yellow striped and white with green ones are basically similar but have a bell, and are parts of Austrian Dinner sets made by and Mundner Keramik and a company that has GK in its trademark (more colors are available!!).  I suppose I should have put them in an “Austrian” category, but they seem better off here with their close relatives.

2 more English cows lying down Another popular British mold, here from Charlotte Royal Crownford and Wood Potters of Burslem.
3 English cows This mold of a large-mouthed standing cow is also widespread.  The one on the left is simply stamped “Made in England”, the center is Royal Crownsford by Arthur Wood, and the green one is unmarked.
3 British cows The greenish one on the left is stamped Bernadette Eve, England, Handcrafted Fine Staffordshire Ironware; the one in the middle is unmarked, and the one on the right is from Tony Wood Studio, England.   Again the basic theme here is that a pattern or mold is typical of the national trade in cow creamers, albeit widely used (unless somehow protected).

A few words about the English potteries seem in order here.  Many of my older “Staffordshire” creamers, and the modern English ones shown in this section, come from one of the many pottery factories in the city of Stoke-on-Trent.  As noted in the Staffordshire section, this city comprises six distinct towns -Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton – which due to the predominance of this industry are collectively known as “The Potteries”.  Its web site – www.thepotteries.org – has a wealth of information about the 1500 or so potters and their firms who have worked in the area since the early 1700s, many of which have changed names, gone out of business, been bought or combined, etc, over the course of the last three-plus centuries. From that site and others we learn that the famous Wood family serves as a good example. Their story begins in the mid 1700s with three brothers – Ralph who’s best known for Toby Jugs, Aaron who was the finest mould maker in Staffordshire, and Moses. Wood & Sons prospered under members of the family until the recession of the late 1970’s, then under a receivership was acquired by the Yorke family in 1982.  Wood & Sons called in the receivers in 2005. Other Wood enterprises included that of Arthur whose Bradwell Works in Longport operated from 1904 to 1928 and from then until 1989 traded as Arthur Wood & Sons Ltd, when it was acquired by Price and Kensington. They are both now part of the Rayware Group.  Another Wood, Tony, a 9th generation direct descendent of Ralph, operated his Tony Wood Studios from 1980 till ~1991.  Other brands whose creamers are mentioned here include Royal Crownford, one of the trade names of J H Weatherby & Sons Ltd, whose firm was founded in Tunstall in 1891 and finally closed in 2000.  Similarly, Devon Ware and Crown Devon ultimately date back to Simon Fielding’s investment in the Railway Works in 1879 – S.F. & Co. and Fielding are among their other marks – and produced a wide range of figurines, etc, until the plant closed in 1982.  One of the very few older firms still running under family (albeit a different family) ownership  - and in the same location at the Middleport Pottery since 1888 - is Burleigh Dorling & Leigh, now trading as Burleigh, see www.bureleigh.co.uk.  This firm began as Hulme & Booth in 1851, and in 1862 was taken over by William Leigh and Frederick Rathbone Burgess (thus Burgess and Leigh, thus Burleigh). It came totally under the Leigh family in 1919.  They build up an export network that thrived until a ‘run of financial difficulty’ in 1999 led to the sale to the Dorling family, who now run the business.  The web site claims that they’re the last working Victorian pottery factory in England.  They pride themselves on their blue and white china, and note that they “use ball clay from Devon; china clay from Cornwall and the unique skilled decorating process of underglaze transfer printing.”

Here is a fine example of the modern ‘Burleigh-ware’ creamers, in this case with a ‘black willow’ transfer. They come in a very large range of patterns, many matching their dinnerware patterns.

A German herd of cows

Germany:   There a number of very fine German silversmiths and porcelain factories who have made some super cow creamers - notably Goebel, Royal Bayreuth, and Schafer and Vater - which figure prominently in my collection and are covered under their own or other headings.  In addition, there seem to be a number of other makers who have produced some lovely examples such as those shown here.  Most of these are porcelain and many of them have “Germany” and a mold number inscribed on the lower side of their belly.  In addition to those shown here, several of the nicer ‘souvenir picture’ creamers are also of German manufacture.  I would greatly appreciate help in further identifying the provenance of these examples.
Czechoslovakian cows Czechoslovakia:   These all date from well before the Czech Republic and Slovakia had their 1993 “velvet divorce”.  They all bear a red colored stamp that is a ½” circle with the words “Made in Czecho-  Slovakia” in the middle (and occasionally a number)  thus presumably all come from the same factory (that I’d like help identifying!).  The sitting-up creamers appear to be the most numerous, and they come in a variety of colors and sizes, from white to brown to orange to polka-dot.   
Cows From Czechoslovakia The three on the left are further examples of Czechoslovakian creamers with the red circular stamp.  The two on the right are Japanese creamers that appear to be from a mold made from, or similar to, the orange one.  The one on the far right has “Galveston, Tex, 1937, from Jewell” written in pencil on the bottom, which would seem to date both the Czech mold, and perhaps several of my early Japanese creamers, to before WWII.
Three more Czechoslovakian versions of the sitting cow creamer, including a very large(8 ½” tall) one.
Polish cowsCows from Poland

Poland:  The center of Polish pottery is the city of Boleslawiec, ~120km west of Warsaw, on the Bobr River in SW Poland near the German (Silesia) border.  Pottery making in this area, which is renowned for its white clay, dates back to around the 7c.  Boleslawiec is apparently sort of a Polish version of Stoke-on-Trent in England (I haven't visited it [yet], so this is just a guess); at any rate, it has a lot of pottery factories.  Brightly decorated Polish dinnerware from this region seems to be extremely popular in the US these days; some even showed up at an Alaskan Army base PX we visited.   Using the web as a guide, I find that in the left hand picture, the cow on the left is from Zaklad Ceramiki Artystycznej "TYRCZ", and the one on the right is from Zaklad Ceramiczny Stanislaw "WIZA" which is in the village of Parowa, about 13 km west of Boleslawiec. The smiley creamer in the center of the left picture, and the one on the left of the right shot, are most likely from Ceramika Szlachetna "DANA", which was established in 1975 and prides itself on continuing to use only traditional hand-made techniques; thus each of their pieces is marked "UNIKAT", which means unique.  The little smiley guys with the tiny round mouths are pretty obviously from the same area, but I don't have their precise pedigree. To learn more about Polish pottery, Boleslawiec, and the various factories there, check our www.artisanimports.com/Polish_Pottery/About_us.html.

Italy:  All my Italian creamers, including a couple of silver ones,  are quite modern and I believe that most were made for export since the Italians are more into black espresso (and wine) than tea or ‘American’ coffee with cream.  There are however some very fine examples about a third of the way down on page 3 of Modern Variations.

Portugese cowsA portugese herd of cows

Portugal:   My wife and I found most of these lovely creamers during a visit to Lisbon in November 1997; we came home with stuffed suitcases.  They are all handmarked, from several different factories.

Spanish cows Spain: Well, these aren’t creamers per se…rather cruets for oil and vinegar and a wine jug.  The do fit my “two hole” rule, however, so I’m including them!   We did find some real creamers in Spain, but by and large they were of a rather standard shape, and had souvenir markings.  And there are others "Made in Spain” (see the three from Stonewall Kitchen in the ‘Variations’ section), but these are the only ones that seem to me to have a typical Spanish personality.
Spanish Cow

Now this definitely is a cow creamer, and distinctively Spanish…stamped and impressed for Sargaledos, which is a fancy ceramics gallery in Barcelona.

Mexican cow Mexico: This is a particularly fine example of Mexican folk art; I bought it on eBay, and the seller indicated it was made by Guilermina Aguilar of Ocotlan de Morales, Oaxaca.  It arrived with the horns broken, but after considerable trouble I had them restored – it was nice enough to justify the effort!.
Mexican cows More examples of Mexican clay cow-shaped jugs.  The eBay-seller of the one on the right said he bought it in a crowded market in Nogales, Mexico in 1996, described as patterned after Mayan design.
After I bought this one on eBay, I realized that it is from basically the same mold as the one above from Nogales…in this case, however, with a shiny black glaze and pink inside the ears.

Not hard to tell where this little black clay cow came from – it has Mexico in large white letters on its tummy. 

Not all Mexican cows are large and made from clay…the country also produces a number of fine ‘regular’ ceramic ones, like this creamer from Céramica Santa Maria in Cuernavaca.   There are a couple sets from the same factory in the Sugar and Creamers section.

2 Ecuadorian cows Ecuador: More eBay purchases, wine or water containers in bull form, from Ecuador, bearing the message Souvenir of Cuenca Ecuador.
2 Chilian cows Chile: The large pitcher on the left is stamped “Ceramica San Juan MR” and “Penco-Chile”, and the one on the right “Asem, Chile” in script.
2 Brazilian cows Brazil: Two red clay versions of wine pots from Brazil.

 

Peru: One of the most characteristic modern Peruvian pottery items is the Torito
De Pucara, or Little Bull of Pucara.  Pucara is located northwest of Lake
Titicaca, some 140 Km southeast of Cusco on the road to Puno and the Lake.
The town derives its name from the Pukara culture which flourished from
about 200BC to 800AD.  It has been a center of pottery manufacture for over
2 millennia, and remains the largest ceramics producing area in southern
Peru.  The Torito is a good example of the fusion of local Andean and
Spanish cultures: the bull is a typically Spanish symbol of strength and
courage, but it was adopted by Andean craftsmen in the later part of the 18c
(recall the Spanish conquered the Inca empire in the mid-16c).  Various web
sources state that the Torito originated as a ritual element for the
cattle-branding ceremony, as a flask to contain a mixture of chicha (a corn
based beer) and cattle blood, drunk by the priest conducting the ceremony.
These days, in addition to serving as a vase and a popular tourist item, a
pair of Toritos (for prosperity and fertility, since bulls now provide the
main power for plowing on most farms), often accompanied by a cross and two
bottles (one for holy water and one for chicha, again showing the
intermixture of cultures) is installed on the roof of houses.  Our local
guide stated that while the walls of farm homes are usually home-made from
dried mud, the roof tiles must be bought, and thus the completion of a
(costly) roof is a time for celebration, as well as the invocation of both
Catholic and indigenous protective forces for the home.  The same seems to
apply to this stone home with a thatch roof in Ollantaytambo, albeit here the
'bottles' are somewhat less than traditional.


In 2007, the Peruvian Ministry of External Commerce and Tourism (MINCETUR)
together with a number of business groups sponsored a traveling exhibition
called "My Torito of Pucara" in which 40 featured artists decorated Toritos
which were ultimately auctioned off to the public at the National Museum to
raise funds for handicraft training and technology.  I missed that event, but
I believe I more than made up for it during an early-2008 visit to Peru by
commissioning this 734 gram, .95 silver Torito do Pucara from the Arte
Magico Andino Joyeria in Cusco.  Virtually all the artisans in their
workshop turned to in order to produce this delightful, one of a kind (at
least as of now!) 'cow creamer' (yes, it does indeed have 2 holes!) in about
3 days so I could carry him home (and found, much to my delight, that he
could enter the US duty-free!). 
Japan:  Here are four Japanese interpretations of the cow creamer – as noted above there are many “Made in Japan” creamers that were manufactured for designers or distributors in the US and elsewhere.  However these four seem to me to have a uniquely Japanese flavor, and date from before or just after the end of WWII, or possibly the early ‘50s. 
Occupied Japan cows These weird looking guys licking their noses are of heavy ceramic, and stamped “Occupied Japan”. Interestingly, the tongue licking the nose is very similar to
that of the Peruvian Toritos de Pucara. Makes me wonder if there's any
possible connection.
Several japanese short horn cows The little guys in front have sort of a mean look, and some of them also bear the Occupied Japan stamp.  Others say just Japan, or Handpainted in Japan.
Early Japanese cows

 

These three with curly tails are another idiosyncratic interpretation.  The two smaller ones have both a stamp, and an unusual impressed mark on the lower part of their side that reads JAPAN.

2 more cows made in Japan Both of these lazy but happy cows are marked Made in Japan.

Not all Japanese cows were made for the export market, however.  Here is a lovely little hand decorated porcelain teapot that was sold as Meiji, dating from pre-1893.  Quite a contrast to the more recent interpretations.

 

2 Chinese cows Base of Chinese cows

China: I bought the creamer (or, rather, teapot) on the left in an antique store in Lisbon, Portugal, where the dealer indicated it was made for the export trade @1880. Its base markings are the ones on the right in the second picture (my inventory #207), and thanks to Paula Airey of the Isle of Wight from whom I bought a more modern copy, I was led to the www.gotheborg.com site of Jan-Erik Nilsson, a treasure house of information on Chinese and Japanese porcelain. Comparing them to the sets of marks found there, they seem similar to those of PIN - "Treasure/Product" mark #384, Qiang Yi Tong/Zhen Cang Pin "Qiang Yi Hall Precious Treasure". The newer teapot (my #237) bears the marks (#114 or 767 in the gotheborg list) of Yi Qian Tang (factory name) and Long Nian Zhi (Made in the year of the Dragon) and is likely from the 1980's. These porcelain decoration factories used older blanks from China and Japan, and German enamels, and specialize in products for 'expats'.

2 Aussie cows Australia:  I have purchased quite a number of cow creamers and pitchers both in Australia and from eBay.au, but these two little handmade teapots, from Ron & Lorrie Holmes-Brown of Queensland, are the only ones I know of that were definitely made there.