A Dundee Marmalade Crock Collecting Guide [Values]

Almost nothing says “farmhouse style” like antique Dundee marmalade jars. The muted pallet of creamy buff and black make them ideal for decorating.

These desirable little marmalade crocks, used by James Keiller & Sons of England to contain their product, are all the rage right now and bring a pretty penny for antique resellers.

A Dundee Marmalade Crock Collecting Guide

This post contains affiliate links for research materials or products related to this blog post. This is both for your convenience as well as to support my blog, as I receive a small compensation whenever you click on such a link and make any sort of a purchase, for which I thank you.

Table of Contents

    Dundee Marmalade Crock History

    Dundee marmalade crock with antique white buttons and ironstone dishes

    The Marmalade Recipe

    Made from Spanish Seville oranges, known for their intense bitterness, orange marmalade is an English classic. You can find it on almost any British breakfast table.

    While many have thought over the years that this specialty food originated in Scotland, C. Ann Wilson, in her definitive The Book of Marmalade, reports that an Englishwoman published the first recipe for the stuff in 1714.

    That said, the Scots take credit for the addition of large chunks of orange rind to which marmalade lovers have grown accustomed. Credit for this recipe goes to a Mrs. Janet Keiller of Dundee who developed it in the late 1790’s.

    One English writer beautifully described marmalade like this, “…it is superbly restorative, a welcome lift as the new day begins, sweet but not cloying, a ray of sunshine spooned from a jar, (Spread Over Centuries).

    Sounds luscious, doesn’t it?

    Keiller & Son’s Company

    The Keiller family successfully marketed their product, taking credit to this day for its invention. By 1845 they had established themselves in both a shop front and a manufacturing facility. And Keillor & Son’s, as they came to be known, continued to grow.

    In fact, at one point they were the largest retailer of marmalade in the world!

    The Marmalade Crocks

    Keiller & Son’s sold their marmalades in stoneware crocks manufactured by Maling Pottery (see p. 6) right up until 1928, after which they switched to glass, (Cottage & Bungalow Magazine).

    Sadly, the company went out of business in 1992. Though you can find jars of the marmalade offered for sale on Amazon, but I don’t know who’s currently manufacturing it.

    To “seal” the marmalade crocks, a piece of wax paper or cloth would have been tied around the top and held in place in the groove running around the rim. The jars were then wrapped with paper.

    On the face of the jars, you’ll note the name of the company and the product inside an oak leaf wreath. As far as I can tell, they came in three basic sizes: 1 lb., 2lb., and miniature.

    The permanent graphics on Dundee marmalade jars set them apart from most others dating to that period, which would have had paper labels. While those labels are long gone, we can enjoy the wonderful graphics on Dundee jars in perpetuity.

    Beloved by the English, orange marmalade shows up in the popular Paddington Bear children’s stories. Thus many Americans have familiarity with this unusual (to us) and distinctly bitter type of “jam.”

    To learn marmalade’s mythic Scottish origin story and watch a fascinating one minute video, check out this article: Why is Dundee Famous for Marmalade.

    Is It a Pot, a Jar, or a Crock?

    Bottom of Dundee Marmalade jar marked "Pot Made in England"

    Well really it’s appropriate to refer to these marmalades by any of the three terms: pot, jar, or crock. One of the two that I own is literally marked “pot” on the bottom (see above). “Pot” has a slightly more British sounding ring to it, right?

    When I hear “jar” I think glass, but of course back in the olden days, before glass, jars were made of clay. And then there’s my personal favorite: “crock.” Since the containers were in fact made of stoneware-type clay and weigh a bit more than earthenware, this term fits best, in my humble opinion.

    Dating Marmalade Crocks

    I’ve not located information anywhere that helps to determine the manufacturing date of specific jars. But the jars do reveal some clues regarding their age.

    Pair of antique dundee marmalade crocks

    We know jar A on the left is older than jar B on the right because the weight is offered in pounds only, rather than pounds and grams.

    In addition, it’s thought that the small letter “A” under the bow on jar A makes it one of the oldest of this type. Older than one that bears the letter “Y,” for example.

    Looking at the base of both jars we see that A shows more signs of age: browned crazing and rough edges. In addition, the bottom of B is unglazed, indicating a newer manufacture date.

    The only part of the mark on A that I can make out is the “M.” I believe this indicates that the Maling Pottery, a northeastern England company, manufactured it, as they were known to make Dundee crocks, (James Keiller & Sons, Dundee Marmalade).

    Given that the company switched from ceramic crocks to glass jars in 1928, we know B dates to no later than 1928.

    The earliest date for A would appear to be 1874 since the jar references a prize the marmalade received in 1873. Some evidence exists to support the claim that the company stopped using the A graphics in 1914, (ibid).

    This dates A to about 1874-1914 (likely closer to 1874) and B to about 1875-1928.

    You might think the early date for B is a mistake given the use of the term “grams,” but some companies in England were very early adopters of the metric system.

    Where to Find Dundee Marmalade Jars

    Marmalade jars can be difficult to come by. In fact, I purchased both of the two you see in today’s article just this year at separate estate sales. The older example for $3 and the the newer for $1.

    Other than these two, I’ve only ever seen them at antique shops or on Etsy/eBay priced out of my budget. You can find a B version of the jar listed in my Etsy shop for $54 + shipping.

    If you’re looking for places to buy vintage and antiques in general, check out this article: 15 Proven Places to Buy Vintage & Antiques.

    15 Proven Places to Buy Vintage & Antiques

    Looking for places to buy vintage & antiques? Check out this article: 15 Proven Places to Buy Vintage & Antiques

    Marmalade Crock Values

    At the moment, the older crocks (like jar A) resell on eBay for about $45 (including shipping), while the newer ones (like jar B) sell for about $35 (including shipping). Here’s how you can easily find eBay sold listings.

    On the other hand, you can find the jars listed on Etsy for $70-100 (including shipping). The jar version (A or B) does not appear to affect the listing prices. As mentioned above, you can find jar B listed in my Etsy shop for $54 + shipping.

    Where to Sell Dundee Marmalade Crocks

    This is my first time selling marmalade crocks(!). Therefore, I’ve not yet discovered the “best” place to sell them.

    Based on my research into values on eBay and Etsy, it would seem that selling the crocks on Etsy might yield a higher profit.

    Of course it’s difficult to determine what they are actually selling for on Etsy since we can for the most part only see what they’re being listed for. That said, you can learn some sold prices on Etsy; here’s how.

    When looking at Etsy list prices, I give greater weight to those listed by “power sellers”–those who have a high number of sales under their belts. 500 or more is what I look for. That tells me they’re experienced sellers who know market values.

    My gut tells me at the moment that I can get more for my jars online than from my antique booth and that Etsy may be better than eBay. That’s why I listed mine on Etsy.

    10 Reasons why you should sell on Etsy

    If you’re not selling on Etsy yet, here are: 10 Reasons You Definitely Should!

    Decorating With Marmalade Crocks

    Dundee marmalade jar holding button hooks on a shelf with antique ironstone

    Of course you can display your marmalade jars as is, but why not put them to good use? They can hold so many things:

    • Button hooks (see photo above)
    • Pens and pencils (see photo below)
    • Small plants or succulents
    • Makeup brushes
    • Small kitchen utensils (melon ballers, small tongs, garlic press, etc.)
    • Cotton balls or makeup removal pads
    • Dishwasher pods
    • Paint brushes
    • Flowers
    Dundee marmalade jar holding pens and pencils next to antique ironstone

    Conclusion

    I do hope you enjoyed today’s post about Dundee marmalade crocks. I definitely recommend that you keep your eye out for these little gems when you’re out shopping in the wild!

    Thanks for stopping by–
    If you enjoyed this post, subscribe today
    and get a FREE copy of my eBook:

    Learn about Dundee marmalade crocks--click here!

    Share This:

    9 Comments

    1. Excellent information, they are hard to find here in Colorado too, but I have two that are keepers. I have sold a few, but I’m going to raise my price to your suggestion. Thanks so much!

    2. β€œA ray of sunshine spooned from a jar” really does describe marmalade! I had not seen the Dundee pots/jars. They are delightful and I shall be on the lookout for them. We have visited England and Scotland several times and always enjoy marmalade with our toast or scones!

      1. Yes! Delicious πŸ™‚ Definitely keep your eye out for them whenever you’re in the UK Susan as I’m sure they are much more reasonable since there are so many more over there.

    3. This is so helpful! I see folks on Instagram selling these for wild prices and I hope to see some in the wild someday!

    4. I was introduced to the Keiller marmalade in 1973 by my Irish mother-in-law when I stayed with her in the Bronx. I have several of the new jars and one crock on a shelf with my tins. My favorite way to use it was to make an orange glaze for Cornish hens (or chicken!).

    5. Thank you, Diana, for providing some great information on the James Keiller Marmalade Dundee crocks….I’ve always had a love for these beauties! Recently viewed a beauty on display in the current issue of “Country Living”, which prompted me to pull out my collection of 8 pieces, & then onto your interesting article. Would love to share a photo or 2 to get your opinion on my oldest crock, which is marked with a “B” below the wreath and “MALING K” on the underside. If possible, pl let me know! Cheers!

      1. Hi Judy! So glad you enjoyed the article. Feel free to join my FB group–Your Vintage Headquarters–where you can post photos (one item at a time) and solicit info from the members. Sounds like you have quite a collection!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *