I am using this term in a very general and admittedly inappropriate way (although I’m not alone in doing
so) to refer to my small collection of British earthenware (and a few porcelain) cow creamers dating from
the 18th and 19th centuries (with a few early 20c). Very recent ones with similar shapes and styles
are for the most part covered either under the manufacturer (e.g., Kent, which has adopted some of the
older molds from creamers shown here), or under ‘Places’, or just lumped in with all the other modern
The main English centre for producing pottery cow creamers, starting around 1740 with saltglazed
stoneware, was Stoke-on-Trent and vicinity (which is in Staffordshire, thus the general term).
Stoke-on-Trent is made up of six distinct towns: Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton -
collectively known as "THE POTTERIES". See their web site, www.thepotteries.org,
for lots of good basic information on the area, the potteries, potters, etc.. However when cow shaped creamers and spill vases became
popular, inspired at least a bit by Schuppe’s silver ones, other pottery centers – notably in Tyneside,
Yorkshire, South Wales and South Scotland -- also began producing them, in part because Staffordshire
potters moved to these areas to establish or run factories. I have trouble distinguishing creamers from
these other centers from those of Staffordshire, unless the seller provides information. One exception is the
Swansea, South Wales creamers, many of which are quite distinctive. I have therefore
included a description of these Welsh potteries and their cow creamers down near the end of this page. I
have also added a section dealing with Spill Vases, many of which used the cow creamers as part of their
My collection pales in comparison to the fabulous Keiller Collection in the Stoke-on-Trent Museum Art Gallery, but I do have a number that I’m quite fond of. One problem with these creamers – as
indeed with any ‘figures’ of the period, be they of people or animals - is that not many of them have a
well established provenance. Such is the case even with the Keiller collection – I believe that only three
of the 667 in that collection have the maker’s name impressed. As opposed to silver creamers, where
hallmarks and assays are the norm (and generally required by law as well as by the guilds), most of the
early pottery creamers don’t have marks or any sort, and since they were basically common household items,
the maker was of little importance to the buyer. I will give as much information as I have, but in
general I have found that the sellers – even ‘Staffordshire’ experts – don’t have much
information. I welcome any and all help in improving my attributions. One other note is
that most of these creamers have restorations of some sort, although in most cases they have been carefully
done by professionals and are hard to discern. The need for restoration isn’t surprising, since the
horns, tails and ears are quite fragile (except for when they were cleverly smushed down onto the cow’s
head or body), and these were made for daily use more than for display.
Cow creamers were, of course, only a very small component of the wares produced in Staffordshire, which
had been noted for its potteries for hundreds of years. Most pieces naturally were simply utilitarian –
bowls, pots, plates, etc. Starting in the 1700s, in keeping with the overall trends of industrialization
in Britain, the potteries became more mechanized and organized, and so they remain today although there
has been an almost infinite number of changes in process as well as ownership and organization of the
firms. There are a number of good sources for the potteries history, but for a short version I’d
. At around the middle of the 18th century, in response to a growing demand for both quality and
decoration, the potters began to complement their functional items with figures of people and animals. Not
unnaturally some of these more fanciful items also were designed to serve useful purposes such as holding
spills, and – after they became popular – serving milk and cream. For a brief introduction to the art of
the very popular (and still very highly sought by collectors) Staffordshire figure, try http://www.adelekenny.com/-staffordshire-figures.html.
For those who want a more in-depth treatment, I can heartily recommend Pat Halfpenny’s excellent book,
"English Earthenware Figures, 1740-1840", published by the Antique Collector’s Club and available
through a number of used book sellers both in the UK and the US.
As a side note, as well as a reminder to myself next time I go trolling for cows through the English
countryside, there’s a web site that provides frequently updated information on traffic on motorways and
common A/B roads: www.frixo.com
One more note – I use blue-tack (poster putty) to hold the lids on. I first encountered it in London in
1995, where it was used to hold up the pictures of call-girls in the phone booths. It seems to hold quite
well for several years without hardening or leaving a mark, which is presumably what endeared it to the
pimps and made the practice tolerable to the police and phone company (albeit in more recent trips the
practice seems, sadly, to have faded). It shows in many of the pictures. If anyone has any better
suggestions, I’d appreciate it.
As a reminder, click on any thumbnail for a larger picture.
This is my favorite – a very lovely model of a cow and calf with boscage or bocage…a term for leafy
decoration on pottery of this era; I have seen this style referred to as “Walton School”,after John
Walton. I bought this creamer from the London store of Oliver-Sutton antiques in Kensington (they have sincvece closed), who
attributed it to Tittensor, circa 1780. Tittensor is both a family name, and the name of a village in
Stafford, between Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stone. Although information is sparse, it’s most likely
that this creamer can be attributed to Charles Tittensor, who was a small scale potter who
specialized in bocage and other earthenware figures, working in Shelton in the early 19c, and who had
a number of different partners over the years. The date I was given by Oliver-Sutton is almost
certainly incorrect both because (as noted by Pat Halfpenny) Charles Tittensor was not recorded as a
potter until after the turn of the century, and because bocage was not introduced until around
1810-1815. Given the uncertainties, I’d simply say that this lovely underglaze painted piece is from
the first quarter of the 19c.
Here is another favorite, a purple splash luster creamer in perfect condition that I acquired in
early 2013 from John Howard of Woodstock, an Antique English Pottery Specialist, just as he was
shipping it to New York for a ceramics show. Unlike the Tittensor one above, however, the maker is
unknown – John could only tell me that he acquired it in Burton on Trent, and that it was
manufactured in Staffordshire around 1820. He did note however that this is a very rare example, and
in his four decades in the business it is one of the few that he has seen with no restorations or
damage. At the time it was made, luster ware was at or near the top of the market for earthenware
figures, so I can only imagine that the original owner either bought it more for decoration than
utility (like the Tittensor piece that would be too unwieldy for daily use), or at least used it on
only special occasions. Certainly most of my others have not fared nearly so well as this beautiful
When I went to The Potteries web site for some information a while ago, I found that for the sum of
£10 one can “adopt”, at least for a year, one of the famous Keiller collection cows. So…I couldn’t
resist adopting their pink luster one, which it turns out Mrs. Keiller had named “Sentorial Bos”.
Cute but no, I have not been tempted to name mine. HoweverI'll make anyone who is interested the same deal - for £10 you can adopt one of my cow creamers - or even me - for a year.
I was delighted to find this one offered on Ebay, said by the seller to have been a favorite of her antique-dealer mother. Basically the same as those above, the purple coloration and mold are identical while the markings are somewhat different. This one has had horns, part of the ears, and tail restored, and it has a replacement lid - all nicely done but darl=ker than the body, perhaps due to age.
I purchased this early green and white cow creamerfrom Oliver-Sutton in LKondon at the same time as
I acquired the Tittensor. It was identified by them as a Whieldon, circa 1780, and bears an old
inventory #509 from the C.B.Kidd collection. Thomas Whieldon (1719-95) of Fenton Low,
Stoke-on-Trent, was a Master Potter who – according to the Famous Potters page from that town
(www.thepotteries.org/potters) taught both Josiah Spode and Ralph Wood, and from 1754-1759 was in
partnership with Josiah Wedgewood. There is more information about him a couple sections down. This
creamer has a ‘mushroom’ handle on its lid, which like some other very early ones, has simply been
cut out of the back of the cow rather than being a separately fashioned plug.ood.
I have spent some time on the web trying to find out more about the C.B.Kidd collection, since not
only do I have some pieces from it, but they seem to have been offered (at high prices) by quite a
number of knowledgeable antique dealers over the years. Courtesy of Robert Walker of Polka Dot
Antiques I have learned that Captain Charles Bernard Kidd was born in 1880 in Dartford, Kent, and
educated ‘privately’ and at Cambridge. He was a keen hunter of hounds and was Master of Foxhounds of
the Southdown Hunt from 1910-1913, which post he relinquished when he accepted a commission at the
beginning of WWI. He was a well known collector in the early 20c, and his collection was likely sold
by Sotheby’s in the 1950s.
This finely potted creamer with milkmaid was ascribed by the knowledgeable seller, Andrew Crowley
of Liverpool, to Thomas Whieldon, circa 1760, and acquired by him from the “wife of a construction
baron (recently deceased) from her Georgian townhouse in the Chelsea area of central London. The
pottery pieces were mostly Whieldon and yorkshire Creamwares, with the collection there was an
inventory book, which indicated that this creamer was purchased in 1972 from an antique shop on the
nearby Kensington church street.”…which just happens to be the location of Oliver-Sutton’s shop.
His description notes “the cream coloured earthenware body covered in coloured glazes derived from
manganese, copper, cobalt, iron and antimony. The colours were sponged onto the body and then
covered with a clear lead glaze, the subsequent firing caused an intermingling of the colours, this
type of ware is also called Tortoiseshell ware.” This jibes well with what I have recently
read about Whieldon in Pat Halfpenny’s excellent book, "English Earthenware Figures,
1740-1840".. This early creamer does have a bit of damage – a chip to its lid and one to the
left ear showing the creamware of the figure, and some nicely done restoration to horn tips and the
milkmaid’s right arm. Overall it’s a lovely early example.
Here is a third that was attributed to Thomas Whieldon (by a faded sticker under the base), in this
case 1770-1780. The base cow is indeed quite white, and the colors are typical of the era. I really
have no way of verifying that any of these three are actually from Whieldon – but if so, he was a
master of many styles.
It’s appropriate here to say a bit more about Thomas Whieldon, who is probably the most well-known
Staffordshire potter of the mid 18c, and about the early evolution of Staffordshire figures such as
my cows. Most of this has been extracted from Pat Halfpenny’s book referenced above, and an article
on Pearlware by Terrence Lockett found on the potteries web site.
Whieldon was baptized in Stoke-upon-Trent in 1719, and was an established potter at least by the
mid 1740s – in works that he first rented and then purchased in Little Fenton. By 1750 he also had
acquired pot works in Fenton Low – some half mile away – which he rented to others. Whieldon remained
in business until around 1780, at which time he razed his factory and converted the land into
‘pleasure grounds’ around the home of himself and his (by then) third wife. Whieldon, like most of
the other 150 or so Staffordshire potters of the period, produced tableware as well as the figures.
He made saltglazed stonewares as well as the tortoiseshell and enameled creamware. The term
creamware, for which he seems to be best known, denotes cream colored eartenware. The figures like
my cows were fashioned with a combination of hand and press moulding, dried and then assembled using
slip, then biscuit fired. The piece was colored with metal oxides – manganese brown, copper green,
iron yellow or cobalt blue – then covered with a liquid lead glazing and ‘glost’ fired. This process
allowed only a limited range of colors due to the high temperature required to fire the glaze.
Equally important for the increasingly sophisticated buyers of the latter part of the 18c, it
produced a product that was not as ‘white’ as fashionable Oriental porcelains. To respond to this
market, Staffordshire potters in the 1770s developed what they referred to as ‘China Glaze’ –
basically simply substituting cobalt oxide for iron oxide in the glaze, which produces a whiter ware
with a light bluish tint. Josiah Wedgewood independently came up with a similar process – adding
whiter clay and employing cobalt in the glaze to give it a bluish cast. Wedgewood termed his ware
‘Pearl White’, and today the term for the two similar products is ‘pearlware’. Whieldon,
incidentally, was out of the game by this time.
Although the typical approach for English-made
‘white’ tableware with an oriental touch was to paint underglaze in blue and then apply the china
white or pearl white glaze, early ‘pearlware’ figures took advantage of the new approach by tinting
the glaze with other metal oxides – copper for green, iron for yellow, manganese for brown or purple,
and more cobalt for darker blue - and then individually handpainting them on the figure. Pat
Halfpenny distinguishes these figures of the last quarter of the 18c as ‘coloured glazed’. The next
evolution involved painting or sponging with the same metal-oxide based colors on the biscuit-fired
white clay figure, then dipping it in liquid pearlware glaze and firing to seal the colors, more or
less as was done with creamware. Relief-moulded pieces including figures (and cows) that used this
technique from around 1780-1840 are referred to by Pat Halfpenny as underglaze painted, although they
are also known as Prattware. Other under-glaze techniques include ‘spatterware’ and ‘spongeware’,
as well as transfer printed wares to include the ‘Willlow’-type patterns in imitation of fashionable
Chinese ware (after ~1820 clear glazes began to replace the pearlware glazes on these). A yet
further late 18c embellishment involved on-glaze decorating a pearlware glazed piece. Tese were
termed ‘enameled’ by the potters. This process allowed for a greater range of colors, but was more
expensive because it required at least three firings – biscuit, glaze or glost, and then one or more
to ‘burn’ the colors (and maybe even more for effects such as lustre or gilding, and even over-glaze
printing, used especially for commemorative jugs and mugs). A good many of my colorful early 19c and
later creamers are of this ‘enameled’ or enamel painted type.
This cute small cow creamer with recumbent calf bears the mark “Leeds” in script. It dates from
@1800, and was #883 in the same Kidd collection. From www.worldwideshoppingmall.co.uk’s section on
pottery we learn that “Brothers' John and Joshua Green in partnership founded LEEDS POTTERY in Leeds
in 1770 with Richard Humble.” More information about Leeds is to be found way down near the end of
the Staffordshire area (a few up from the Welsh Ceramics and Swansea Potteries area) in a section
with a white cow and calf.
This selection of three creamers is a good place to say a bit more about styles of early English
creamers (and other figures). All three here are multi-colored underglazed pottery – the one in the
middle, like the one with green coloring above, has an incised lid, and came from the Kidd collection
via Oliver-Sutton shop which called it ‘Whieldon-type’. From its coloration it could be termed
Creamware. I believe it’s quite early, say mid 1780s, from before folks started making round holes
in the top and fashioning separate plugs. The two surrounding it are whiter in color, thus pearlware
(see feature articles at www.thepotteries.org for some
good information if you can’t find a copy of Pat Halfpenny’s book); presumably the clay in the body
is whiter (no breaks on these so can’t be sure), and the glaze is tinted with cobalt=oxide. They are
also 18c, sold to me (at London antique fairs) as being from around 1790.
All three of these cow creamers could be termed
‘Pratt Ware’ or ‘Prattware’, which as noted above became the generic term for underglaze colored
cream and pearlware that was made rather widely in the UK from about 1785 to 1840. The best
information source on these that I have found is “Pratt Ware – English and Scottish relief decorated
and underglazed colored earthenware 1780-1840” by John and Griselda Lewis. From there we learn that
there was a Pratt family of potters “who were working at Lane Delph in the late eighteenth century
and also at Felton after 1807”. The term Pratt Ware however wasn’t used until the early 20c,
when a couple of rival authors coined it based on a very few multicolored underglazed jugs with
relief decorations that bore the Pratt name and were in the prototypical style. So the Pratts have
been memorialized rather by happenstance, with their name applied to wares made by hundreds of
potteries over a span of decades. The Lewis’ book has hundreds of pictures as well as fascinating
articles about the Pratts, how the wares were made and colored, and the many locations where this
style of decoration was employed until it was surpassed by overglaze enamel colored wares and other
techniques that became popular in the early to mid 19c.
Here are frontal shots of these three cows to show the shape of
horns and mouth.
This brown and orange sponge painted cow creamer is very similar to the whiitish one in the center above - same body and face shape, incised lid with hoop, and light green base. It is in pristine condition, dates from around 1800, and came via ebay from an estate in Maine.
This spatter-painted brown Prattware creamer is very similar to the blue one on the right in the section with three cows above.
The eBay seller called it softpaste Pearlware, early 19c, and said it came from an Indiana estate
where the owner had been collecting from the 50s through the 80s. I bet he paid less than I did,
albeit the Ebay price was a bargain compared to what these go for in London shops or from high-end antique dealers these days.
Here is yet another early Prattware example, this one missing its lid but otherwise in fine condition.
Many early Staffordshire cow creaners have flat, generally green painted bases. I got all three of these in London in the mid-90s. The one on the left came fro the Oliver Sutton shop, and they dated it to @1820. The little white one, with beautifully restored lid and horns, was said to be circa 1800, So was the one on the right, which I have affectionately dubbed 'ug'. I do like it a lot, but it's not as finely made as most others.
Many of these early sponge-painted Prattware cow creamers sported milkmaids or, in this case, a milkman. This was presumably a very popular mold, almost 'mass produced', since it seems to be about the most common of the fairly early Staffordshie creamers still available. The three in the image on the left are nearly identical, and the one on the right is from the same or a very simila mold albeit somewhat lighter in color and lacking the brown marks that appear on the bottom of the bases of the other three. The milkmen are all identical, and he has a firm grip on a couple of the cow's teats.
Here's a blackish sponge painted version of the cow and milkmaid, again late 18c or early 19c. Unlike most of her mates, this lady actually has a face. The cow has a restored tip of her right horn and only a couple of teats but her diligent tender is doing her best to fill the large brown bucket.
This is a particularly lovely early 1800s brown and yellow sponge painted cow creamer on a flat base with milkmaid, a very smiley face, and wide open black eyes. The milkmaid is nicely rendered, with eyes and even a nose, and her pail that's the same color as her stool has an extension to help her lift it. It is in excellent condition, no chips or restorations noted with the exception of a possible replacement lid that matches the body beautifully. It came to me from Aberdeen, but whether it's Scottish of English isn't clear - the seller said English so that's most likely.
This is a relatively simple flat based cow creamer from @1820. It has restoration to the horns and tain and a replacement lid, all very well done.
This beautiful cow with calf on a flat green base with canted corners dates from ~1810, and is most
likely Scottish (the seller stated that the red sponged pearlware is typical of Scotland) of from the
north country. It has had some well done professional restoration to the horns and is missing its
little lid, but I find it lovely nonetheless.
This ‘Prattware’ creamer – with a restored tail and lid and broken horns, probably made around 1790
– was said by the seller (who has kept a very similar one) to have been bought by the wife of a
Hollywood magnate from Gloria Antika of Brompton Road in the 1940s, presumably shortly after the end
Here is a third older – early 19c – creamer with red, with an admixture of black in the sponged
coloring. For a rather well molded creamer the painting is quite sloppy – the green of the base
carries onto both the hooves and the milk pail and, although you can’t see it, there’s extra paint on
the milkmaid’s arm. Its horns are restored, and the right one has been re-attached. The seller
indicated that he thought it was likely Yorkshire.
This early creamer with milkmaid has similar red and black coloration on the pearlware body, and
also was said to be likely from Yorkshire. It has a strangely colored stopper that is old if not
for sure original, and is missing the very tips of the curled up horns as well as part of its right
ear. Still looks pretty good for its age.
More Prattware, here a matched pair with the milkmaids – arms at their sides and without any facial
characteristics – on opposite sides. I believe they are a bit later than the ones above, based on the raised bases. Here the curled horns and small ears have avoided damage, so I’d guess that a fine ornamental pair like this didn’t see much hard or regular use.
Another matched pair, sold as Pearlware circa 1820 by an English dealer from Rugby, Warwickshire. Interesting that the diminutive milkmaids have no pails. Spilled milk? These have had restoration to horns, tails, and one hind leg, as well as replacement lids, but all beautifully done.
Here are three more interpretations of cows being milked. The sellers indicated that the one on the
left was probably from Yorkshire, 1780-1800. The middle one is from around the same date, but looks
to be Prattware; and the one on the right was described as Pearlware from @1830 (pearlware seems to
be a somewhat ambiguous and general term relating to coloring and glaze, see the reference above).
These three have interesting different representations of milkmaids; some potters seem not to bother
with arms, others like to include facial features.
This one is somewhat less lovely than those above, but another good example of mid to late 19c Staffordshire, presumably in
this case a rather inexpensive one at the time. It has some black ‘cold paint’ – i.e. not glazed –
that may have been a touch-up after manufacture. It also has a older restored tail and an old
replacement lid, not unusual for one of this period.
This colorful cow with calf is a fairly recent addition to my collection, and is said to be “probably from a
Prattware factory in NE England, @1830”. Here the tail, lower lip and lid have been restored; the
‘smushed’ horns and ears survived intact.
This matched (almost - but for sure intended to be sold as a set) pair of Victorian creamers with milkmaids
(arms, no hands!) dates from @1850. They’re quite large and heavy, and have protective smushing of protuberances
(surely there must be a technical term for
This is another Victorian era creamer, similar to the pair just above but with a longer and thinner face, showing a bit of detail of the
hard-working milkmaid and her target.
Two more mid 19c cow creamers with milkmaids. The yellowish one is in great shape
but may well be a reproduction. Her milkmaid has no
arms. The one with sponge ware brown spots is missing
the lid and has restored short horns, but I liked the
winsome eyes and it was quite inexpensive.
This is a lovely example of a similar form – said to date from the 2nd quarter of the 19c – with a
Rockingham glaze of the ‘flint enamel’ type – characterized by the touches of bright color fused in
the glaze - on yellowware. There’s a bit about this type of glaze in the Bennington section because
it was very popular on American pottery (and the American versions are reputed to be superior to the
British ones). A bit of additional information is that this mottled brown glaze has its origins at
the Swinton factory on the Marques of Rockingham’s estate near Rotherham, South Yorkshire. The
Wikipedia article on Rockingham pottery notes that “After the closure of the works in 1842, some of
the craftsmen remained on site to continue manufacturing on their own. The most successful of these
was the Baguley family, the most senior of whom Isaac Baguley had been the manager of the gilding
department at the factory. Baguley decorated porcelain that was bought in as unglazed biscuitware
from other potteries. The classic brown Rockingham glaze was used, the rights to which Baguley had
acquired after the closure of the pottery, with much use of gilding and occasional enameling.
Baguley eventually moved to nearby Mexborough and the family continued decorating bought-in porcelain
there until the end of the 19th century.”
This creamer is virtually identical to the one above (except that it’s missing its lid),
but with a lovely and darker ‘treacle’ glaze. I’ve included a shot of her head to depict how the
potteries (or at least some of them, for some creamers) had learned to make the ears and horns flat
against the head to prevent breakage
Here’s another nice Rockingham glazed version from ~1840, with a bit of a different shape but still
the curled horns against the head.
This is a fine example of a treacle or Rockingham glazed creamer from a mold that is typical of that used for
many of the Jackfield creamers. Other than this one and a similar one with gold on the horns that is in the Jackfield section, I haven't found any of this form that
This pair with the caramel or Rockingham glaze and gold gilding are also from a mold that is often coated with the Jackfield glaze. They are also shown on that page.
This one is similar but without the gold, and it is also shown for comparison on the Jackfield page..
I acquired this large pair in an antique shop on the old walls of Chester. They seem to be made of
reddish earthenware coated with Rockingham glaze. These have large teats and, what I find most
unusual, small rectangular mouths. The seller indicated that they were mid-1800s but per usual had
no further information. As always, I’d welcome help.
This one that came from a collection of a lady in New Jersey is essentially identical to the pair from
Chester, albeit I didn’t recognize it as such from the picture on eBay. While she may indeed have acquired it on a visit to the UK, the glaze is also quite similar to American Rockingham as described on the Bennington page, and I am aware that some with this glaze were made in Pennsylvania. I do however believe that it is British.
This unusually shaped Rockingham glaze cow is very similar to one near the bottom of the Bennington page, as well as to the green one just below. I have no further information on its provenance, albeit the fly on the lid is typically British. I did however get it from a seller in New Jersey, so it could indeed be American as well.
This lovely dark green glazed 19c creamer is very similar to the one just above except for the style of the base, but the coloration and glaze is unlike anything I’ve seen from early American pottery, and it bears the traditional fly, which is also very
British. The Connecticut antique dealer who sold it on eBay claimed it was “Whieldon, Staffordshire or
Pratt circa 1820” (which I doubt) and could provide no information beyond that it came from an estate of English
ceramics from the 1700s and 1800s. Sure wish I knew more…it’s really lovely, and in superb
condition (and was quite expensive).
I’ve seen quite a number of these, and they’re often referred to as having a ‘Majolica’ glaze. The
horns and ears are gilded, again as is common with the Jackfields. Like many others, it was simply
dated by the seller to the 19c. This may have more to do with US import tax rules than anything
Here’s a caramel colored one quite similar in shape and style. It’s had a fair amount of
restoration, horns, ears, and lid.
I'm not sure this one is English let along "Staffordshire" but it's made of red clay under the bright copper lustre glaze, and it's for sure not from China or Japan. It looks quire similar to some Italian molds, but I don't recall any of them being made of red clay so I stuck it here.
This white one – most likely from the late 19c Victorian period – is in good shape and shows signs
of some considerable use since much of the gilt has rubbed off. It was surprisingly inexpensive for a
creamer of its vintage…probably as much of a surprise to the seller as to me.
This one is definitely not “Staffordshire” in the sense of being from one of the early potteries,
but is indeed English, sold by a knowledgeable dealer as ‘Late Victorian’, circa 1900. It’s
interesting to me on two counts: first the curly hair, which I believe is intended to make it look like a Scottish Highland cow (I have seen similar versions in black). Second is the fact that it is stamped with a
registration number, “Rd No 445,059”. I would like to learn more about the use of these numbers, since this is the only one in my collection so marked.
Here’s an unusual and – to me – somewhat mysterious example. It has a most interesting face
featuring wide eyes and a little curl hanging down its forehead, as well as unusually large grey horns.
It also has a filled or flat backing somewhat reminiscent of spill vases, albeit this cow is clearly
intended to be a creamer even if designed to sit on a mantle or against a well. It has a replacement
stopper and a couple tiny dings, and the seller indicated that there was likely some restoration to
the horns, albeit if so it is very well done. The seller said 19c, which seems not unreasonable.
This is another very sprightly, non-traditional and somewhat unusual cow creamer – said by the knowledgeable UK antique
dealer seller to be circa 1850. Except for a re-glued horn which is almost undetectable it’s in fine
Here are three versions of old English ceramic cow creamers that are really quite different in style and make-up
from those above, and must have been designed to be more utilitarian than beautiful. They were
probably also quite inexpensive when first sold (unfortunately not now). The two that are similar
both have some damage to the horns – I have yet to find one from this mold that hasn’t suffered in some way or
another. I have no further information about them except that the one with the white base and bark
brown spots was said by the seller to date from the 1830s. I would guess that they’re all pre-(or
very early) Victorian, since items from that era tended to be significantly fancier.
These two are also quite simple, probably initially very cheap, versions that I’d guess were late
These two white cows with yellow horns and blue flower decorations come from the same or very similar mold to the one on the left just above. The only real difference other than color is the base. These two both have light underglaze crazing, and the one in back has lost the tip of her left horn.
One of these little red and black splatter-painted cow has had a bit of a hard life – horns glued back on, a
number of scrapes through the glaze and paint – but is nice and colorful and still displays well. The other is in fine fettle but misses her lid and has minor paint flakes. They are interesting because they are so much alike; most of these older ones have fairly significant differences even if they're from the same mold. These two are essentially twins except for the differences in where the splotches are..
The seller said this one dated from @1820. It has glossy glaze all over including the bottom of the base, and it has seen a hard life - restored lid, repaired and partially restored tail, repaired and restored horns. I found the slightly protuberant and outlined eyes interesting, and the price ($58 including shipping from the UK) was eminently reasonable, so it now is catching dust with the rest of the herd.
This one has more than minor damage, and could use the assistance of a professional restorer – it’s
missing its right ear and has 3 legs and one teat re-glued (ouch). It was unusual enough (and
inexpensive as these things go these days) for an early 19c creamer to attract me however – finely
molded, painted and glazed, and with no base. I looked the hoof bottoms over carefully, and the best
I could tell, it’s never been mounted – which would seem to explain the damage to the fairly delicate
This is a very strange variant – included here because it did indeed come to me from the UK, and was
dated by the seller to early 19c. It’s fashioned of heavy reddish earthenware and has a green
tinted glaze, most noticeable on the udder. It’s fairly crudely made and has a number of firing
cracks. The horns have been replaced, and one of them was then broken at the tip. Nonetheless a very interesting example, and certainly quite early.
I’m not quite sure what to make of this one – it has the horns curled against the head which would
suggest to me a late 19c date, but at the same time has the lid incised into the back, which is more
typical of much earlier creamers. It has crazing all over which is not normal for early English earthenware. The
seller, who bought it in the 1980s at a Harrogate antique fair, said she thought it had a base at one
time but I see no indication of that. It’s possible that it is a 20c ‘reproduction’, but at least it
was reasonably inexpensive, displays very nicely, and is different from my other creamers of this
Next come a whole bunch of an extremely popular form of Staffordshire cow creamer, still (or at least until quite recently) being produced. I have chosen to dub them "Kent" style after one of the many factories that made them, as discussed on the Favorite Brands page. This is a modern one, which we bought at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent when we visited around 1996 to view the famous Keiller collection. Kent stopped making these in 1962, but the museum had some reproduced (with the Kent knot logo) in a variety of colors for sale in their gift shop. I opted for the green one, although as shown a bit below we did find one iu more traditional brown and white colors while wandering around the town.
Here are two more modern flowered ersions of the Kent Cow creamer, one with and one without a base, as well as the Kent knot logo. These two have nice vines running up the tails.
Here are several more examples of the "kent" style creamer In the picture of the four without bases, the two with the purple luster bear a orange
stamp that I believe says Wade, England (blurry, and the rest is obscured). Wade was established in
1810 in Burslem, the town that’s the headquarters of the pottery industry in Stoke-on-Trent, and is
best known these days for a small solid ceramic animal collectors set called ‘Whimsies’ that came out
in 1953. Their website (www.wade.co.uk) didn’t return anything
for a search on cow creamer, so I don’t know if these are really from them, but again this is a very
popular mold, and has been made by a number of potteries in the area. Again see, e.g., Kent on the
‘Favorite Brands’ page. The creamer with the reddish markings between the two purple ones has
“England” in script on its belly; and for comparison I’ve included a modern one manufactured by the
Kent factory between 1944 and 1962; it bears the William Kent logo of a knot with W and K in the
loops, “Staffordshire Ware” above and “England” below, and the initials of the artist who decorated
it. The other two pictures show more examples, including one with a blue-willow transfer, a rather
crude one in the middle of the second picture, and another Kent model, the cow with bouquets of blue
flowers on flanks and forehead and the raised flower on the base, which is also typical of a large
number of creamers.
These shots depict in a bit more detail the small variations of one popular version of these type
creamers – small leaves and flowers, gilded horns, and an oval base with a raised flower. The one on
the right in these photos bears the William Kent logo, the one on the left is unmarked. I’m
beginning to believe that the Kent marked creamers are still in production, since they appear
frequently and at a very reasonable price in eBay. There are also reputedly older ones on sale also
– at a much higher price – and it beats me how one can tell the difference from what’s shown on the
We bought these two in England when we lived in London in the mid-90s, fairly early in the period of upgrading the collection from just a few costing less than $10 each, to being much more includive and learning a bit about those that were made in England. The one on the left came from an antique shop in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, when we visited to see the Keiller sollection in the museum there. The other was purchased about a year earlier, in the famous Bermondsey Market, and was probably the first of my 'Kent' cow creamers. That market had a reputation of being a good place to look for British antiques, but over time I have learned that the prices there weren't any bargain. Both of these cow creamers have the Kent knot logo with "Staffordshire Ware" above and "Kent, Made in England" below. My guess would be that they date from shortly after WWII.
This pink lustre beauty is very obviously from exactly the same mold as those from Kent (and others), but it’s marked on the bottom of the lid for Gray’s Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent. From a combination of Wikipedia and The Potteries we learn that A.E.Gray & Co. Ltd was founded as a wholesaler of utilitarian ceramics by the china decorator Alfred Edward Gray in Stoke-on-Trent in 1907, and became a production operation of finely decorated high-end earthenware in Mayer Street, Hanley from 1912-1933 and then in Stoke from 1934-61. Gray's was basically a decorating firm which bought ‘white-ware’ pieces from other manufacturers and employed highly talented in-house designers to produce lovely finished items; thus the classic shape yet beautiful lustre decoration of this cow. Following WWII tastes had moved toward cheaper mass produced items, so the family-owned business that had specialized in hand painting was purchased in 1959 by the daughter of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis who founded Portmeirion (well worth a visit is you’re in North Wales) and at the end of 1961 became Portmerion Pottery.
For those with more interest in this firm and its lovely products, there is a marvelous web site – grayspottery.co.uk –that not only tells more of its history but has pictures of thousands of its patterns as well as detailed information about its backstamps, some of its famous decorators (like Susie Cooper who eventually went on to found her own pottery company), prints and verses, advertisements, and even its retailers.
These two, like the ones just above, bear the Kent knot logo with "Kent" beneath the knot. They came to me (via ebay) from a NC estate where the seller said the person had some 3000 cow items. I was delighted to find these, because they are my only for-sure Kent ones that are very different in form. They each have a bit of damage, but still display (and pour) beautifully.
Here are 3 more examples of the “Kent” style creamer, showing the similarities between a modern one
(on the left with blue flowers) and two 19c examples. The older ones, typical of the time, have no
identifying marks. So how can one tell what’s new and what’s old? Well, lacking chemical testing of
the glaze part of it has to be based on faith (and the eBay feedback system seems to work quite well
for instilling trust in the advertisements from the sellers), but the new ones of this pattern are
all clearly stamped.
I have had one of these for quite a while, so didn't recognize it when another came up on Ebay. The seller called the new one (on the right in the side image, top in the shot from above) tin glazed delft, but I have never seen a Dutch cow creamer from this mold, and it is identical in size and style to the other 'Kent' style creamers, including the raised flower and red scallop marks on the base. They both do have interesting glaze and are slightly rough to the feel. The small flowers and leaves are extremely well painted on both of them, with expected differences . I would guess them to have considerable age. They each a large blue "L" (or "7" depending on how you look at it) under the base, but per usual no other marks.
Here are a pair of free-standing ‘Kent-style’ cows, black and white spongeware with a bit of brown. The one on the left bears the Kent knot and notation, and the brown patches are raised and sort of spiky. The one on the right is ummarked and just has plain paint and glaze; I think it may be a bit older than its neighbor.
This one – again with the same style cow – is interesting because it has the horns, ears, and
3-slash gold gilding that’s typical of Jackfield creamers.
This one is pretty obviously even more Jackfield-like, with the black coloration and gold gilding. It could and perhaps have gone on the Jackfield page, but there's already one like it there so I put it here to emphasize the wide use of this very popular mold.
This creamer bears a resemblance to the Kent style, but is from a completely
different and very nice mold. The Sandland family website www.sandland.freeuk.com)
that there were (at least) two Sandland-related pottery firms that worked in
Hanley: "...a firm called Sandland & Colley Limited (Lichfield Pottery)
manufactured pottery in Hanley from 1907 - 1910. More prolifically, and much more
well known, is the Lancaster & Sandland of Dresden Works, Hanley who manufactured
'Sandland Ware' pottery from 1944 until the 1970s." This cow is in very good
condition, but could easily date from the early 20c; my guess would be that it's
from the Sandland & Colley firm , since most of the "Sandland Ware" pieces I've
seen on the web have a very different maker's mark. Perhaps a Sandland collector,
or a member of the family, can help me here.
Here are three examples of another popular shape, depicting a cow with a relatively long neck and
conical head raised and mooing. The one on the left is said to be 19c and is certainly old,
likely Victorian given the gaudy colors. The ones on the right are also likely from late 19 or early 20c -
slight variations of this form in mold and decoration
These two are modern reproductions, reflecting a continuing appreciation for this very
popular and common form.
Here are two more variants of this form, both showing their late 19c age a bit, but with interesting
coloring and decoration. What made the one with blue markings of interest to me is that
the base has been cracked, and is held together with staples. There is also a staple that’s visible
in the picture just above the front left hoof. These were apparently an early form of repair before
the advent of modern glues that work well on ceramics.
This one has lovely bluE flowers and marks all over, including the base. It has a blue hatchet or pipe like mark on the base, and its right ear has been reglued and left horn restored so it is likely from late 19c and showing a bit of its age and use.
Here are four examples of creamers with "Blue Willow” pattern transfers. Blue willow, indeed anything Chinese, was extremely popular since it was first imported
in the mid-18c, albeit imports slowed down as British potters learned to copy the style. These four cow creamers are said the date from late 19c or early 20c. They are all from molds similar to creamers
I’ve shown elsewhere – long-necked, ‘Kent-like’, or similar to the brownish one with the ‘Majolica’
website notes that “The origins of multicoloured underglazed
printed pottery go back to 1756 when John Sadler
and Guy Green invented the process of transfer-printed
decoration on pottery”, and that “Transfer printing is a process by which a pattern or design is
etched onto a copper (or other metal) plate. The plate is then inked and the pattern is
"transferred" to a special tissue. The inked tissue is then laid onto the already bisque
fired ceramic item, glazed, and fired again. Initially patterns were transferred to the ceramic
items after glazing, but the ink often wore off, thus "underprinting" was born. Transfer
items have a crisp, almost decal look about them. If you look closely you can often see the place
where the transfer design ends. Often these are the areas where the pattern doesn't quite match, like
Here is a fifth example of a cow creamer with a Chinese transfer print. I believe this one is somewhat earlier than those just above - probably @1840 - based on a combination of the circular transfer print and the fairly high oval base with crude
In contrast to the cow-and-person figurines which are typically made of heavy
ceramics, this is a porcelain creamer with the fill hole in the back of the cow.
It is basically in the form of the spill vases shown below, but certainly not
designed to hold spills so it must have been intended as either a creamer or
simply a decorative piece. It’s very finely made and painted, but has no marks and
I have no information about its age or maker, although I expect that it is fairly
This is an earlier and more important porcelain piece, dating from @1865, which I acquired at a
London antique fair in 1997 and about which I have at least a bit of information. The mark on the
base shows that it was made by the partnership of Stevenson and Hancock, which began in 1863 and
operated in Derby. From the web site www.derbyporcelain.org.uk we learn that “The Old Crown Derby
China Works, or as it is better known these days, the King Street Factory, ran from 1849 until 1935,
when it was taken over by the present Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Co. Ltd., and closed down. It
formed an historic link between the earlier Nottingham Road factory and the current works on Osmaston
Road, Derby. On the closure of the Nottingham Road factory in 1848, six workers from there set up a
china manufacturing business in rented premises at 26, King Street, Derby. Of the various
proprietors who ran this concern over the years, Stevenson and Hancock are the best known. Their
initials formed part of the main factory mark of a crown over crossed swords and D, with two sets of
three dots and the initials S and H, which continued to be used after the deaths of both Stevenson
and Hancock, in fact right up to the closure of the factory. The factory produced both decorative
ornamental wares as well as useful china and offered a replacement service to customers who had
broken pieces that they owned. Shapes and patterns used earlier at Nottingham Road were repeated, as
well as turning out entirely original wares. A few products, mainly figures, were made in unglazed
biscuit, but the bulk of the output was in glazed white or in enameled form, all of the latter being
hand painted.” There’s more history of Derby pottery and S&H at
http://richardgardnerantiques.co.uk/page/818/Derby. I would imagine that porcelain cow creamers were
relatively rare, since the creamers were primarily utilitarian items and porcelain was significantly
more expensive than earthenware. Indeed, the books I’ve read indicate that many earthenware figures
were modeled after porcelain ones, but intended for a lower priced market. I find this cow to be a
particularly lovely example – the stand or plinth underneath the belly was intended to keep the soft
porcelain from drooping during firing. Unfortunately it is missing its lid that also has the tip of
the tail, as shown in the glazed versions below
Some 20 years after acquiring the Stevenson and Hancock Derby porcelain cow shown above, this one
became available on the UK ebay site. Thankfully the seller was willing, when asked, to ship to the
US (for a price). It is from around the same 19c period but has obviously been decorated by a
different painter, and the maker’s mark, here quite blurry, is in blue. Although not readily
noticeable, this one is slightly larger than the one above, and is slightly slouched in the
hindquarter. Also it retains its lid…and was less than a quarter of the cost of my first one - a
sign of the change in the markets, the impact of eBay as opposed to antique fairs, and maybe even my
considerably greater experience as a buyer!
Here is a, unmarked glazed white ceramic version from the same or similar mold as the Stevenson & Hancock porcelain creamer, said by the English
seller to be from the 1890s. It seems that S&H wasn’t the only firm to employ this or similar molds, although this one seems to be a bit unusual in having been fashioned in both porcelain and sturdier clay.
Here are a couple more ceramic examples that seem to be from the same or a very similar mold as
the Derby porcelain creamer. They bear the impression for COPELAND (plus ‘J’ and ‘84’on the white
one, and ‘U’ and ‘86’ on the one with patches of brown), which the Stoke-on-Trent potteries’
website’s section on marks tells us stands for W. T. Copeland (c.1847-1970), a manufacturer of
earthenware, parian, and fine porcelain at Stoke, and the successors to Copeland & Garrett
(1833-1847), which in turn succeeded Josiah Spode (1770-1833); and which has been Spode Ltd. since
1970. The COPELAND impression itself doesn’t tell us much about age since it was their standard
mark since 1847, but I think it not unreasonable to assume that given on the numbers on the base,
these date from the late 19c
This creamer could as easily go into Modern Variations, since it is a modern
version of a traditional Staffordshire creamer with calf. On the other
hand, its mark (in actuality, the picture of the base is from a nearly
identical creamer from auction-antics, the seller) indicates it was made by
C. Cooke of Staffordshire, so it legitimately fits here. I don't have a
date for it, but for sure it's from pre-1995, since that's when MAJiLLY was
purchased by Martha and Tony Emilio and moved to Pomfret Center, CT (see www.majilly.com). There is a picture of
C.Cooke's mark on www.thepotteries.org, but
no further info about this potter, and neither the seller nor the current
MAJILLY folks could supply any further information. Help would be greatly
Here’s another creamer with calf from the same mold and bearing the C. Cooke, Staffordshire, England
I believe this large cow with a calf is also quite modern. It is clearly impressed for “Leedsware
Classical Creamware, England”, and there is an interesting story here. From
www.worldwideshoppingmall.co.uk’s section on pottery we learn that “Brothers' John and Joshua Green
in partnership founded LEEDS POTTERY in Leeds in 1770 with Richard Humble. Success soon came with the
production of household goods in a variety of ceramic bodies, the most popular being CREAMWARE, a
type of earthenware made by several companies from white Cornish Clay with a translucent glaze,
producing the pale cream colour from which it took its name…By 1781 William Hartley had added his
design and business expertise to the Green brothers' production skills and under the name Hartley
Greens & Co the company flourished, expanding its trade across Europe and into Russia. Such was
its success that from then on Creamware would also be known as Leedsware. In the 19th century after
the death of its founders the different tastes of the Victorian era brought a gradual decline in
business, leading eventually to the Pottery's closure in 1878. Despite the later demolition of the
kilns and buildings, surviving moulds and clues from pattern books together with fine examples of
Leeds pieces in local museums enabled production of Creamware to the original designs to continue to
this day.” In trying to track down the manufacturer of my version I learned (from a kind person at
Hartley Greens) that the old Leedsware molds were sold off by the Leeds City Council around 1988 in
two lots. One lot was purchased by Hartley Greens (which has a nice history of Leeds Pottery on
its web site), and the other by Classic Creamware, which in turn was bought out, although the company
that bought them no longer makes creamware. So either my creamer is 18c, which I doubt, or it’s
only a couple decades old and the mold for it is still around, somewhere. Help please, anyone??
Here is a colored version of this same Leedsware Classic Creamware cow and calf.
Yet another, which I acquired largely because of its peculiarities. First, the calf is facing in the
opposite direction. Second, the top of the base has been painted green, over the glaze … and third
(which I didn’t notice till it arrived), the “Leedsware” impression on the bottom of the base has
been filled in and painted over. Hard to know why anyone would do this, but the seller who had
acquired it in that condition didn’t try to mis-describe it, just said it was ‘vintage Staffordshire’
and offered it at a very low price.
This one is also modern, and I have no way of knowing whether or not it really
was made in Staffordshire (actually it came via eBay from Worcestershire), but
someone - perhaps the N. Pratt whose name is written on the bottom - had fun
making this rather crude but delightful copy of a early creamer. One feature is
unique - the hind legs are hobbled, presumably to keep her from kicking over the
milk pail. Must have been a very frisky cow. I have never seen this on an
original old English cow creamer, and am thus wondering if the model had this
feature or if it was added by the imagination of the potter. There was a horse
figurine by the same potter for sale at the same time, which I didn't purchase.
This one was sold 'for restoration', thus cheap, and I bought it more out of curiosity than anything else. It had a long and hard trip from England, and arrived with a broken nose (clean break, replaced nicely) to go with its myriad other repairs and restorations. It would appear to have started as a nice and fairly large mottled brown cow creamer. At some point it lost ears, horns, lid and tail that someone replaced (not terribly well), an then added a home-made base with a raised flowers that is supposed to look like those on many of the other Staffordshire creamers. Whomever did all this apparently had fun and was pleased with his or her work becaue they left their initials under the base. Funky and interesting, albeit I doubt any up scale antique dealer would have anything to do with it. It seems happy in my collection.
Finally, here are a couple ‘sports’, about which I have little to no information. The one
on the left would appear to be modern (and bore a very modest price tag). The wacky cow on the right,
which came from the UK via eBay, was called ‘Faience’ by the seller. The flowers and leaves on its
sides are raised, the lid is cut into the back (like my very early Whieldons), and the base bears a
hand-done monogram of an overlapping T and R. It is certainly very different from any of the others.
Welsh Ceramics and Swansea Potteries
This introduction is derived principally from “Welsh Ceramics in Context, Part 1”, edited by
Jonathan Gray and published by the Royal Institute of South Wales with support from the City and
County of Swansea in 2003, supplemented by several articles from the web.
Swansea is located on the southwest coast of Wales, in what was then the county of Glamorgan
(Glamorgan has been significantly reorganized several times – the potteries discussed here were in
what is now the City and County of Swansea*) at the sheltered mouth of the river Tawe. With its
navigable river, decent harbor, access to local and overseas markets and abundant local coal, Swansea has
been a center of trade since Viking times. With the coming of the industrial revolution it was a
logical center for the development of copper smelting, and this began in the Tawe valley near Swansea
in 1717. By the end of the 18c eight smelters had been founded within three miles of the town (making
a mess downwind), and given the advantages of cheap coal and easy transport by sea, many other
industries followed. One copper smelter near the town was established by James Griffith in 1720. When
the lease on the ground of this older copper works was surrendered in 1764, it was taken up by
William Coles and his partners, to establish a pottery. There had traditionally been a simple
earthenware pottery tradition in the area, but this was the first attempt to establish a larger and
more ‘modern’ manufactory.
Industrialization had created a demand by the more wealthy segments of society for fashionable wares
and for finer ceramics such as were being imported from China and the continent. Developments in
Staffordshire, particularly those by Josiah Wedgewood - both by emulation of technique and by the
availability of skilled specialist workers - formed the basis for this Welsh expansion that was
designed initially to meet the needs of the local market. It took several years to demolish the old
copper works, hire the needed experts, and erect the kilns and other facilities for the new trade,
but production began in 1767. By 1771 this pottery had hired a master potter from Staffordshire and
was producing both saltglaze and creamware bodies.
William Coles died in 1778, and the pottery struggled (as did many such industries in that era)
until Coles’ son was joined by George Haynes, who had lived for several years in Philadelphia. In
1790 a fresh lease was taken for them in partnership. Haynes, who had initially come back to England
thinking of retirement and likely remunerative investments, soon was deeply involved in what was then
named the Cambrian Pottery, and became its manager. Haynes is credited with considerable upgrading
and expansion of the works, as well as attracting a talented engraver, Thomas Rothwell, to produce
transfer printed as well as enameled wares. The pottery benefitted from the reopening of trade with
America coupled with Haynes’s Philadelphia contacts, and it thrived in the 1790s. Swansea continued
to profit from developments in Staffordshire, particularly those by Wedgewood; and it is not unlikely
that cow creamers, as well as other tea and dinner service items and a widening range of wares, were
produced there during this period.
In 1799 Edward Coles died and the Coles’ assets were assigned to Haynes. In 1801 the American Quaker
and merchant William Dillwyn visited Swansea, then returned in June 1802 to make an arrangement to
buy part of Haynes’s interest in the pottery on behalf of his son, Lewis Weston Dillwyn. Haynes
initially remained as manager, with day to day supervision of the works by Edward Green and the
firm’s agent Thomas Belington (who became a partner in 1811). Lewis Weston Dillwyn was primarily a
naturalist and spent most of his time in London, thus being a largely absentee proprietor. This
worked well until 1809 at which time relationships between Dillwyn and Haynes deteriorated badly and
Haynes departed in 1810. Haynes had surreptitiously acquired a lease of foundry buildings adjoining
the pottery, and established a soap works there. This was an extremely smelly business and had a very
adverse impact on Cambrian’s workers and customers; Dillwyn was convinced this was malicious, took
legal action and won the case. Haynes then established a rival pottery, the Glamorgan, adjacent to
Haynes initially financed as well as managed the new business, then brought in his son in law
William Baker, and as well as two other financial partners, Bevans and Irwin. This accounts for the
“BB&I” mark which was used on their wares, which were made largely for domestic use. There were
no effective patent or copywrite laws in those days and many of Haynes’s workers followed him, so
the new firm produced lines of transfer printed and enameled creamware and pearlware that were very
similar to those of the Cambrian, albeit with some differences in molds and technique. Haynes died
in 1830 and the Glamorgan languished through the lack of his experience, finally being sold in 1837
following the loss of Baker and the bankruptcy of Bevan’s Iron Works. It was purchased by Lewis
Llewellen Dillwyn, Lewis Weston’s son, who had run the Cambrian since 1836. He then sold most of its
assets to the man who used them to help establish the ‘South Wales Pottery’ in Llanelly. Competition
from this new venture helped lead to the ultimate demise of the Swansea pottery in 1870.
The Swansea cow creamers – a very minor part of the business just as in Staffordshire – were all
creamware or pearlware, as far as I know. However there were many attempts in Wales to produce
competitive, high quality porcelain – both at the Cambrian under Lewis Weston Dillwyn from
1814-1817, and by the celebrated china painter William Billingsly who had spent many years at the
porcelain works in Derby, at Nantgarw as well as with Dillwyn in Swansea. Although the basic
‘recipe’ for this prized ceramic had been available in England since around 1765, it was exceedingly
challenging to produce regularly and at reasonable cost due to kiln losses, and this industry never
fully succeeded in Wales albeit the pieces that were produced were of very high quality.
* From Wikipedia we learn (more than you likely want to know) that “Glamorgan
or sometimes Glamorganshire, (Welsh: Morgannwg or Sir Forgannwg) is one of the thirteen historic
counties of Wales and a former administrative county of Wales…Glamorgan's terrain has been inhabited
by humankind for over 200,000 years…The region originated as an independent petty kingdom named
Glywysing, believed to be named after a 5th-century Welsh king called Glywys, who is said to have
been descended from a Roman Governor in the region. … The name Morgannwg or Glamorgan ('territory of
Morgan') reputedly derives from the 8th-century king Morgan ab Athrwys, otherwise known as "Morgan
Mwynfawr" ('great in riches') who united Glywysing with the neighboring kingdoms of Gwent and Ergyng,
although some have argued for the similar 10th-century ruler Morgan Hen… By virtue of its location
and geography, Morgannwg or Glywysing was the second part of Wales, after Gwent, to fall under the
control of the Normans and was frequently the scene of fighting between the Marcher Lords and Welsh
princes…The Lordship of Glamorgan was established by Robert Fitzhamon following the defeat of Iestyn
ap Gwrgant in the 1080s. The Lordship of Morgannwg was split after it was conquered; the kingdom of
Glamorgan had as its caput the town of Cardiff and took in the lands from the River Tawe to the River
Rhymney. The Lordship took in four of the Welsh cantrefi, Gorfynydd, Penychen, Senghenydd and
Gwynllwg. … The Laws in Wales Acts of 1535 established the County of Glamorgan through the
amalgamation of the Lordship of Glamorgan with the lordships of Gower and Kilvey; the area that had
previously been the cantref of Gwynllwg was lost to Monmouthshire. With Wales finally incorporated
with the English dominions, the administration of justice passed into the hands of the crown. The
Lordship became a shire and was awarded its first Parliamentary representative with the creation of
the Glamorganshire constituency in 1536… From the mid-18th century onwards, Glamorgan's uplands
underwent large-scale industrialization and several coastal towns, in particular Swansea and later
Cardiff, became significant ports… Under the Local Government Act 1972, the county boroughs and
administrative county of Glamorgan were abolished on 1 April 1974, with three new counties being
established, each containing a former county borough – West Glamorgan, Mid Glamorgan, and South
Glamorgan. It 1996 these areas were reorganized into several unitary authorities by the Local
Government Act of 1994 (an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which amended the Local
Government Act 1972 to create the current local government structure in Wales of 22 unitary authority
areas, referred to as principal areas in the Act, and abolished the previous two-tier structure of
counties and districts.) It came into effect on 1 April 1996… Since 2013, Glamorgan has had its own
official flag, red with three white chevrons.” Glamorgan is now referred to as a historical county,
and West, Mid and South Glamorgan are preserved counties “for the limited functions of Lieutenancy
and High Shrievalty”.
"Administrative map of the County of Glamorgan in 1947"
This is a modern (but made with traditional hand-crafted techniques) reproduction of a Swansea,
Cambrian cow creamer from the early 19c. It serves here as a good example of this factory’s cow
creamer molds, as well as their typical red and blue enamel coloration. I have learned quite a
bit about this handsome reproduction creamer from a very kind collector who inherited one from her
mother (who in turn received it from the managing Director of Beefeater UK Ltd who obtained it
as a gift in 1988). Mine is #106 of the 200 produced by the Gladstone Pottery Museum, which is
located in Longton, stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and is a working museum of a medium-sized coal fired pottery, typical of those which proliferated in the area starting in the 18c*. These limited
edition creamers were commissioned in 1987 by Express Foods Group, Ltd to commemorate the opening of
a new ultra modern cheese packing factory in Oswestry which was opened by HRH the Duchess of Kent. My
cow-respondent noted that Empress Foods “appear to have been acquired by Diageo CL3 Ltd in January
2011 who then changed their name to Diageo CV Ltd and are now based in Park Royal, Greater London. It
isn't clear whether they still manufacturer food based products.” A web search turned up the
information that “Diageo is a global leader in beverage alcohol with an outstanding collection of
brands across spirits, beer and wine categories. These brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal,
JεB, Buchanan’s and Windsor whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Captain Morgan, Baileys,
Don Julio, Tanqueray and Guinness.” I will admit to having sampled a number or their products…but I
wonder what they did with the cheese factory.
* From Wikipedia we learn that "A pottery factory first opened on the site in 1787. It was run by the Shelley family who produced earthenware and decorated plates and dishes produced by Josiah Wedgwood in Etruria. The site was purchased in 1789 by William Ward who split it into two pot banks: the Park Place Works subsequently named the Roslyn works, and the Wards Pot Bank which was sold to John Hendley Sheridan in 1818.In the 1850s Sheridan had rented out the site to Thomas Cooper who employed 41 adults and 26 children to produce china and parian figures. By 1876 the Wards site had passed into the hands of R Hobson and Co and had been renamed Gladstone, after the politician William Ewart Gladstone. The factory opened as a museum in 1974, the buildings having been saved from demolition in 1970 when the pottery closed (some ten years after its bottle ovens were last fired). In the 1990s ownership passed to Stoke-on-Trent City Council. The museum has shown its commitment to industrial heritage by functioning as a working pottery. However, production has had to be curtailed for financial reasons and the museum is therefore less of a "living" museum than it was. As at 2014 the Middleport Pottery in Burslem, which is used for commercial production, is arguably the only working Victorian pottery in the city of Stoke-on-Trent.
This closely matched pair of Cambrian cow creamers dates from ~1820 according to the seller, a
London dealer in early ceramics. They do indeed 1ook a lot like the ‘prototype’. I believe they
might actually date from somewhere in the 1810’s.
This is a very similar pair, or at least bought together - in this pair, both have horns that sweep upward, and one is without the red splotches and its purple spots seem to be lustre.
Here is yet another example of the typical Cambrian cow creamer, this time with brown horns and blue and red splotches.
Both Glamorgan and Cambrian potteries produced cow creamers, and given the connection between the
two via George Haynes it’s not surprising that they were quite similar. Here is a good example with
which to compare of the differences, as described in the “Welsh Ceramics in Context” book and
(although I can’t find the reference recently) the web site of the Swansea museum: The key feature
is the brisket or breastbone, which is pronounced and protrudes downward on the Cambrian cows - here
the one to the right – and is more slender on Glamorgan cows. The Glamorgan ones also had a squarer
head. Another difference is shown here – the Glamorgan cows were commonly transfer printed with a
rural fishing scene, and were marked “Opaque China over “BB&I”. The term, “opaque china” is
attributed to Haynes, who coined it for the fine white earthernware from the Swansea potteries.
Apparently most of the Cambrian cows had the red and blue enamel like shown above (more examples
follow), or patches of pink luster. Examples of both of these creamers are shown on p.112 of the
cited reference, and it notes that the few Cambrian ones that were transfer printed had this design
of shells and flowers. I would imagine that at least the fishing scene, and perhaps the flowery one,
were from engravings by Thomas Rothwell. They are nicely applied on both of these cows, and I’m
delighted to have these examples in my collection.
From the coloration, shape of the breastbone, and shape of the base, I’m almost positive this cow
came from the Cambrian factory. The dealer from whom I bought it in Stow-on-Wold in 1997 only said
that it was early 19c. In general, I’m finding that most of the dealers have at least as hard a time
as I do, pinning these things down.
There’s bit of a different approach to the coloration here, and slender breastbones…as well as what
would appear to me to be the decorator’s mark as well as a small impressed “10” on the base of the
cow to the right…I’m guessing This one is Glamorgan, probably a less expensive versions than the
transfer printed ones which may account for the lack of a “BBI”. I bought it from a dealer in
Cheltenham, who dated it to early 19c but had no knowledge of its provenance. The one on the left is
a bit more problematic – red and blue enamel, a fairly heavy chest, and a base similar to those from
Cambrian. The antique dealer for this one was Jacqueline OOsthuizen of London – supposedly
knowledgeable – and they dated it to ~1840.
This one is very different than the others, but I’m pretty sure it’s also Swansea. I got it in
Cheltenham where it was dated to ~1800 - 1810…but the rounded chest and flat wide head would suggest
Glamorgan according to the guidance I can find in the sources. Like most of the others it’s had some
restoration – horn tips and tail.
Here is a close mate that bears typical Swansea coloring – pretty badly beat up with lots of
restorations, but acquired at what – for these early creamers these days (2014) – was a quite
reasonable price, under $100. And of course one never really knows what shape they’re in until they
This one also came from Jacqueline OOsthuizen’s London shop in 1997 – They said Swansea ~1850, which
would put it for sure from the Cambrian works, after the closure of Glamorgan. It and the few that follow
below are very differ from those from the earlier molds – not surprising that tastes would have changed over
30-40 years. This one is missing its base – although it has touches of green on some of the hooves, to me
a pretty clear indication that it once had one. I was fairly early in my collecting in those days, however,
and didn’t notice that till much later. I probably still would have bought it as a nice example of a
somewhat later Swansea cow.
I acquired this one via eBay from a UK seller some 15 years after I bought its
close cousin abvove - and I think it confirms my suspicions about that one having lost
its base. This one also has green on the toes - apparently the 'artist' that painted it
wasn't overly careful - and one hoof is nearly detached from the tall green base. The
base is actually quite unusual - the tallest I have seen. It has a cracked and repaired
lid but is otherwise in prime condition.
This lovely Swansea cow creamer has a very similar shape, and also has a fairly
tall base. The bronze lustre is interesting - I don't recall reading about when it
became available or popular. This cow has had some damage - missing one teat, broken
left horn and restored right horn, but the coloration was so different that I couldn't
pass it up.
This creamer is somewhat smaller that the ones above, and has a differently
shaped head. Its reddish-brown markings are rough to the touch, and have been added on
top of the glaze. The right horn and ear are a bit shortened, but I believe that was a
fault in the making and not a later break. It also sports world-class teats, that seem
to spring directly from its udderless body. Interesting interpretation.
Here to close out the Welsh Ceramics section is is a modern cow creamer from
somewhere in mid-Wales(as is quite apparent from its large sticker), that I
believe fits better here than in the ‘modern Variations pages. Although quite
young it’s a bit battered with a re-glued right real leg and left ear and missing
horn tips. The seller suggested a maker but when I contacted him he denied
responsibility, and the Mid-Wales Development folks (who have changed since ’84)
were unable to offer any assistance - but there are indeed a number of potters in
the area and maybe one of them will see this and claim ownership. It’s really
quite a lovely piece despite its hard life.
Introduction. Friction matches like we’re used to today weren’t manufactured – if that’s the right term – in England until
around the 1820s. Even then, for decades they were much too expensive and rare for
routine use, so people used or slivers of wood – sometimes specially shaved for the purpose – or more
dangerous paper tapers to transfer fire and light lanterns and cigars or pipes. These fire-starters
are called ‘spills’, and because they were needed frequently, folks would keep a bunch of them in a
vase that usually sat on the mantle. In the grand British tradition, utilitarian items like spill
vases morphed into fancier wares that were also decorative, especially during the Victorian era,
providing yet another market for the inventive Staffordshire (and other) potteries. Naturally
enough, topics that were already popular as Staffordshire figurines – including cows, milkmaids,
dogs, horses, etc – became decorations for spill vases. The pair shown here – small decorative
porcelain bisque versions dating from around the 1870s – are not atypical. While these two which I’m
using to introduce this sub-theme do have cows, the cows are solid. In many cases however, cow
creamer molds were modified and pressed into service as the decorations for the spill vases…and
indeed, I’d guess that if you weren’t fussy you could use them for either purpose.
||Here are two typical spill vases from the late 19c - in this case the hole for the spills, or for cream if they were to be used for that purpose, is on the top of the milkmaids' heads. Since these were made to sit on mantles, their backs are almost invariably flat and undecorated.
I think I can be excused for buying a second of these (on the right) in 2020, because the first (on the left) was acquired in 1996 at an antique shop in Bath, England. Prices have changed a bit, £140 for the first, £85 for the second. Both were said to date from around 1860, and both have minor imperfections - a chip to the back of the cow's mouth for the one on the left, and a hairline to the rear and a small restortion to the back of the spill vase on the other. One thing that I find interesting about these two is (click on and expand the pictures for a better view) that although the milkmen, cows and bases appear to be from the same mold (the trees are somewhat different, and the one on the right is simpler), the one on the left has much finer detail as well as better painting on the boy and the base. It might be that this was a popular figure, and the mold lost some if its detail as it was used many times. I have had that experience with some porcelain figures my wife and I have made.
This one is a bit unusual in that the boy is sitting on some sort of bench or stone next to the
tree, rather than standing next to his cow. The cow has lost a bit of its paint and has an old chip
inside its upper lip, but it’s otherwise in fine shape and was reasonably priced.
These two cow creamer spill vase combinations are identical in style but of slightly different sizes - with flat backs and a hole in
the top of the milkmaid’s hat.
Another fine, traditional spill vase with cow creamer, tree and milkmaid.
This one is strange in at least two ways - it may not even be a spill vase - indeed it was described on Ebay as a mid 19c Staffordahire cow creamer. The milkmaid is very much like many of the others, and the back is flat like most spill vases. However the fill or spill hole is without embellishment or extension, in the middle of the cow's back. And the cow's face is quite extraodinary - one I'm not sure even a mother could love. Of course that's the resaon I bought it, and also likely the reason for the very low price. less even that the cost of shipping from Ilfracombe, a seaside resoth on the North Devon coast of England. Then threre's the goat at the cow's feet - as weird an animal as I've ever seen. The folks that made this one either had a strange sense of humor, or were just getting started with pieces of a mold from someone else.
I bought these two bulls spill vase cow creamers at an on-line auction. They are
flat-backed with the tree trunk shaped spill holder which is typical of early to
mid 19c spill vases. I have never seen anything like these bulls by themselves, so
in this case I believe they might have been specially fashioned as spill vases
rather than just adapted from available cow creamer molds.
Here’s another late 19c variant – again flat backed, but with a much shorter tree trunk, and
thus – I’d guess – more likely to find use as a creamer than as a spill holder.
A bit of a surprise - I thought I was gertting an unusual spill vase-cow creamer, only to find that it's simply a differently painted version of the one directly above, which I had bought slightly more than 10 years earlier. Guess my memory isn't what it needs to be. But then when I got this one I looked more closely at some of my others and realised that this cow was also used to fashion spill vases with milkmaids and trees - as in the second Spill Vases section, and in the one 3 sections up. No reason to waste a good mold - and if the cow is a pleasing shape, it can obviously do multi-duty.
This is the only spill vase cow creamer combination I’ve seen featuring a cow that is lying down. That gives it the
practical advantage of being very stable. It has the typical flat back as well as a wide mouthed
spill holder, and is certainly designed to also serve as a creamer. It is very nicely crafted and painted, and
appears to have crackling under the glaze. It came to me from Swansea in Wales, although I don’t know
if the cow was actually made in that area. The seller, with whom I exchanged some pleasant notes
that ultimately led to my longish discussion of the changes to Glamorgan County in the footnote to
the introduction to Welsh Ceramics, simply said it came from the estate of a well known local
collector. There is a spot on the base that looks like it might have been a mark of some sort, but
it’s completely illegible.
This is a quite large 19c example of a spill holder-creamer, with a very fine cow and a green bucket
to accompany it. The whole top of the spill has been restored- makes me wonder how that could have
broken off without damaging the cow in some major way.
This large spill cow creamer, in fine condition, appears to be from the same or a very similar mold as the one above, with a standing
milkmaid added. It was acquired from A&N Harding Victorian Staffordshire, based in Dover,
England (albeit it was mailed from Jersey). For those interested in fine Staffordshire Figures,
as well as informative books about them, try www.staffordshirefigures.com.
Here are two more examples featuring the same cow as those above, with sitting
milkmaids that are identical except for their location. This is a very good
example of how the potteries maximized the use of their molds to produce a number
of variations using identical basic parts. This combination seems to have been a
fairly popular version since I have seem quite a few variations for offer on
This is a pleasant and interesting variant. It actually breaks my rules since the
cow has no holes – but it was very inexpensive (for such things) and is designed to be a
very efficient spill holder. A knowledgeable seller indicated it’s from around the 1890s,
and from William Kent Staffordshire. For a very interesting introduction to such
Staffordshire figures with a bit about Kent,
This is indeed a cow spill vase, but it's really small (a bit over 3" each way), and there is no pour hole in the cow. It is German bisque porcelain, hand painted with a mold #118 on the back of the base. I bought is because it's something that was new to me - a "fairing" which refers to these small figures that were farground prizes as the fairs toured around the Uk and Europe. The knowledgable seller says it dates to around 1860 - these were apparentky very popular in Vistorian times. The early ones were hand painted and unglazed like this one, and later ones were glazed, often with sayings. It is very well molded for a 'prize' - and no longer a give-away I assure you. Pricey little thing but I am delighted to have it,
Apparently spill vases are still sufficiently popular as ‘collectibles’ that folks
have decided to make reproductions. The orange and white one bears a small ‘Made in
China’ sticker, and the one with the boy at the aft end of his cow, while not marked, is
clearly very modern. So per usual, buyer beware…especially on eBay where sellers often
don’t know what they have.