Collecting Vintage Miniature Pitchers

Hi there! Have you heard me mention some of my “accidental” collections over the years? I continue to regularly surprise myself with discoveries of new ones, LOL. And I know I am not alone, so I’ll be wanting to hear about yours in the comments below.

Today I’m highlighting what has become a sort of passion, that is, collecting vintage miniature pitchers. I didn’t pay more than $2 for any one of them, and often much less.

It would be hard to establish a definitive value for each of them, but other than my very favorite (the last one listed below), I wouldn’t price any of them much more than $10-15. Other of my personal collections include: vintage vanity jars, vintage and antique ironstone, and vintage artwork.

Title picture with a collection of miniature pitchers: collecting vintage miniature picturesThese decorative cuties make a unique and easily displayed collection, but what was their original purpose in life?

Some are merely trinkets made as tourist souvenirs, while others were made to hold liquids, miniature liqueurs, for example. And still others serve a decorative purpose only, and that’s just fine.

Collection of vintage miniature ceramic pitchers on a shelfI have mine displayed in my Grandmother’s antique secretary, which I inherited when she passed away. It has glass doors on the top section where a few of my other vintage and antiques can also be found.

Collecting Vintage Miniature Pitchers from Europe

vintage blue and white ceramic mini pitcher for French Dolfi liqueurThis 3 1/2″ blue and white pitcher/bottle once contained Dolfi, an orange liqueur made in France. It is a miniature version of a larger 750ml sized bottle.

My understanding is that the beverage is no longer in production, making its containers a bit more valuable.

vintage pink lustre lily of the valley miniature pitcherI added this pink lustre porcelain creamer with lily of the valley decoration to my collection just two weeks ago, after buying it at at church sale for 25Β’(!).

I’ve placed it in the “European” category, even though its mark (a few indented lines) means nothing to me. The quality, color, and luster say “Austria,” or perhaps “Germany,” to me. I would date it to the turn of the century.

I cannot guarantee that this pitcher comes from the Netherlands, but the windmill strongly indicates that it was very likely a Dutch souvenir. It probably dates to the mid-20th century.

vintage redware miniature pitcher with yellow slip writing "frae sterlin"I mentioned this redware motto ware pitcher a few years back when I first found it at a garage sale. At the time, a reader pointed out that the Gaelic words “Frae Stirlin” translate into “from Stirling.” 

This make sense since an important battle for Scotland’s independence from England took place in Stirling. If you’re familiar with the movie Braveheart, then you may recall that at a bridge over the River Forth, William Wallace defeated the English against all odds.

Before we went on vacation to Edinburgh (when we lived in England), we watched Braveheart with our kids and then purposefully made sure to visit some of the sites relevant to that time period. It was a wonderful trip.

Related: Last Farewell to Stirling (see “frae Stirling” in the last line)  

Vintage small ironstone creamer pitcher made by Maddock in EnglandThis piece actually falls into the “creamer” rather than “pitcher” category, but its small size (2 1/2″) allows me to include it in my collection (although at the moment it makes its home in my ironstone cupboard). Akin to modern restaurant ware, it dates to about the 1950’s.

Related: Collecting ironstone

Collecting Vintage Miniature Pitchers from Japan

I’ve made a “cheat sheet” filled with info about various Japanese marks on ceramics imported into the U.S. It provides invaluable information for anyone wanting to date their Japanese ceramics.

Subscribe HERE and gain access to it in my free Member Library πŸ™‚ NOTE: You’ll find the “cheat sheet” under “Collecting Guides” in the library.

This piece, marked simply “JAPAN,” attempts to replicate early American spatter or spongeware, which experienced a revival in interest around the American Bicentennial in 1976. Other countries would have of course wanted to cash in on that market.

Related: Collecting stick spatterware

vintage miniature pitcher with japanese painted designI cannot read the mark on the bottom of this very Japanese pitcher, but I suspect it may be “Nippon,” which means “Japan” in Japanese.

The painting on this piece lacks sophistication and it likely entered the country as a Japanese tourist’s cheap souvenir. I’m guessing it dates to sometime between the 1891 (when the US began requiring products be marked with their country of origin) and 1940’s (the start of WWII).

Related: Japanese marks

vintage miniature white ironstone mini pitcher marked JapanI added this ironstone-style pitcher to my collection at the same time I added the pink lustre piece (above) and for the same 25Β’ price(!).

The “Japan” label surprised me because it’s well-made and I expected it to be English. I’d date it to the middle of last century.

vintage pink spongeware miniature pitcherExcept for the fact that this pitcher is decorated in pink (my favorite color), I probably would not have picked it up.

I suspect that it’s an extremely cheap Japanese (or Tawainese?) attempt to get in on the American country style faze of the 1980’s and 90’s. See below for a nicer, country style example.

Collecting Vintage Miniature Pitchers (Unmarked)

This delicate piece interests me because when I see light blue Jasperware (finely made bisque pottery), I think of Wedgwood, the English company that popularized this style.

The simple signature “Sue” and the sloppiness of the gold paint job make me believe that perhaps Sue made the piece as a ceramic “craft” project. Completely hypothetical, but a possibility. Whether she would have lived in England, America, or somewhere else, I have no idea.

I don’t have a lot to say about this pitcher except that I do like the shape and the brown glaze. Not especially well made, it has numerous flaws in the glaze and even some unattractive bumps under the glaze. And I don’t know what to make of the white clay. Any thoughts would be very welcome.

unmarked miniature vintage white ironstone pitcherI’ve owned this darling little ironstone pitcher for quite a while. It measures just 1 1/2″ high, which means that it is very probably the creamer from a child’s tea set, made in the U.S. or England.

Collecting Vintage Miniature Pitchers from the U.S.

Vintage Porcelain Hand Painted Pitcher signed BurchillAt the turn of the century and into the early 20th, women around the country enjoyed the hobby of painting china. And for some it offered the opportunity to work for large potteries and gain some financial independence.

Unpainted pieces of pottery, known as “blanks,” came into the country from Limoges, France and other places ready for decoration. The art became popular again in the 1980’s when President Carter declared July 1980 “National Porcelain Art Month.”

This lovely pitcher feels to me like an older piece but I don’t have much to go on, other than it’s delicate nature and pretty artwork. The very bottom is unsigned, but if you look to the lower left, you can make out the signature, “BURCHILL.”

I turned up scant information on a Gerry Burchill who painted porcelain in [of all places] the Adirondacks. I saw a couple of her larger pieces on Pinterest that appear to be of the same quality, but no helpful dates.

Related: Hand Painted Porcelain: Women Played a Major Role

vintage stoneware miniature pitcher with cobalt blue heart decorationI put this in the “American” category simply because it feels American, probably made for country home decor lovers of the 1980’s or 90’s. Decorated with cobalt blue hearts decoration, it’s made of hand-thrown stoneware.

Related: Stoneware Butter Crock

This diminutive pitcher instigated my entire collection. I rescued it from a dumpster many years ago, long before I began blogging.

I believe it to be an early piece, made of red clay with an applied handle. It is a beautifully delicate piece clearly thrown by an expert potter; it’s my absolute favorite.

a collection of vintage miniature ceramic pitchersI hope you enjoyed taking a gander at my collection. I like collecting miniature pitchers for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that they are small and take up very little room.

It also allows me to collect a wide variety of styles from an assortment of countries, keeping things interesting. Now it’s your turn to tell me about one or more of your “accidental” collections. Tag you’re it.

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COLLECTING: Learn all about vintage & antique miniature pitchers!

Pinterest collage of vintage miniature pottery pitchers

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36 Comments

  1. Pretty..I really like them. I think my teacup collection started by accident too… and now Im always on the look out for pieces

    Have a great week

    Phoebe x

    1. Thanks for stopping by for a chat, Phoebe πŸ™‚ Those accidental collections have a way of springing up, don’t they?!! Good luck with your teacup collection–

  2. I love them all, especially the brown glaze one. I started a miniature pitcher collection one day at a garage sale that had about 15 of the little beauties, all colors. I was in love. I’ve had such fun with them, lining them on a windowsill, a long one, haha, and putting a little flower in each one. Or a grouping on a tray. They look so good grouped together. How $8 can add so much fun to your life!!! I’ve collected others since, 10-25 cents each. It’s like an Easter egg hunt. The beauty is they don’t take up the house, just a shelf or two….or three!!

    1. Sounds like you thoroughly enjoy your collection Eileen!! That’s how it should be, right? I love the idea of lining them up on a window sill, but first I’ll have to find an empty one, LOL. Thanks for chatting πŸ™‚

  3. Oh my- I have so many! Vintage linens is probably my main obsession- especially dish towels and pillow cases. I still enjoy ironing them! I also have a small collection of hotel creamers and cream and sugar sets. Fenton silver crest is another collection. And Luray China in the blue and green!

    1. I find there’s something very relaxing about ironing vintage linens, Christy, so I hear you πŸ™‚ I’d love it if you’d share some of your collections with us in my Facebook group–Your Vintage Headquarters!

  4. I loved seeing your pitcher collection. You have such a wide variety! I also have one but mine are 2″ or less–just a little too big for my dollhouses! I had to smile when I saw your Concord, NH one. I worked at NH Hopsital in C for 13+ years! I worked with geriatric pscyh patients–where I was supposed to be! It was an hour from home.; which we’d had talking books back then! One thing I love best about small pitchers is that they are ideal for short stemmed flowers–dandelions or violets from a child, Lilliput zinnias, broken stemmed flowers, etc.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it Kathy! Would love to see yours someday when you get comfortable posting pics on FB πŸ™‚ And you’re absolutely right, they are perfectly sized for those precious little bouquets–

  5. Hi Diana,
    Loved this piece on miniature pitchers — now I have something else to collect! I do need some ideas on how to display my growing collection of letter openers and miniature scissors…..any ideas?
    Thanks, Paula

    1. Ooh, I’ll have to give that some thought Paula. I’m guessing you’ve already displayed them in a cup or small (taller) crock? How about flower frogs? You could cover a bulletin board with pretty paper or fabric and decoratively tack the scissors in place. I’ll let you know if I have any other thoughts…

  6. My grandmother had a pitcher collection. She had all sizes, but most were miniatures like these. She displayed them in a corner cupboard and I always enjoyed looking at them.

    As for accidental collections of my own, hmm .. I’m sure I have some. People always give me strawberry items because I have strawberry wallpaper in my kitchen. At this point I have loads of strawberry things, and I think I only have two alike.

    1. I can see how a collection of miniatures would appeal to a child; I was drawn to them myself. I bet your strawberry collection is charming, Mrs. T–so sweet of people to gift you all those strawberry “things” to match your wallpaper πŸ™‚

  7. Now, Diana, how can a collection be accidental ? I’d love to use that excuse! I’ve always loved pitchers. Not sure why. Maybe the graceful shape of the spouts and handles. Most are packed away or never unpacked from my last move. HaHa. They need to go to a sale I believe. I can’t think of a collection that would be accidental though. I just start picking up items that I like and already have at home. That’s probably why I have so many planters. The ones that look like little flower pots with the dish beneath. McCoy, usa, california….others… They were so cheap once upon a time. I didn’t use them to put plants in. They were going to be displayed in a room where my husband was going to build a shelf all the way around near the ceiling. That never happened. Still in many boxes. Time to sell. Boo hoo.

    1. Sounds like you have some pretty amazing collections Patty! I’m sorry you haven’t been able to use or display them, but I know you are getting some satisfaction out of selling them at your various sales, right? Make sure you post some pics in our FB group before you sell them off, though!!

  8. After reading your blog post I realized I have an accidental miniature pitcher collection as well. A few years ago my daughter was very into all things American Girl and I used that as a reason (a hem) to buy as many doll-sized items as I could find at yard sales and flea markets. In the process I found several charming little pitchers for her dolls’ dinner set and fell in love with them. Now that she’s outgrowing the dolls I think I might reclaim the pitchers for myself!

    1. Love this Allison! I feel very affirmed and pleased to know that you’ve fallen in love with your accidental collection, as I have πŸ™‚

  9. I have waaayy too many collections of various things that happen for no other reason than liking the shape or color of something and/or the fact that I love vintage items & they have a way of making their way into my house through various means. I like to decorate with groupings of like items, whether it’s a wall display or atop a piece of furniture. I admire your mini pitchers, Diana, they are so cute, thanks for sharing!!

  10. I have probably 100 to 150 miniature pitcher that belongs to a favorite aunt. She collected them for 1950’s to 1980’s. Most were souvenirs. I did sell on the other day on ebay. It was 3/4in pitcher with flowers from Japan for 5.94

  11. These are so cute, and such a fun mini-pitcher collection! I bet you have to keep a keen eye open at antique marts!

  12. I probably should limit myself to “small “collections…..but I think that shipped has sailed lol. Love all your little unique pitchers. Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm. xo Kathleen

  13. So happy to see your collection. I ‘accidentally’ started collecting miniature pitchers when I was a kid, and started up again a few
    years ago! I’ve been having more luck with small creamers, but would like to find more miniatures.

    1. I’m so glad you found the post, Pamela! It’s a great collection because it doesn’t threaten to overwhelm your home, right? Here’s to finding more miniatures πŸ™‚

  14. I have a hand blown miniature pitcher that I love. My accidentalcollection is mannequin jewelry trees. They range from 8 to 14 inches high and each lady is wearing evening apparel, I think I have 15 of them, love them all.

    1. Accidental collections are the best (I think anyway!) because you bought each one because you really loved it, not to simply “add it to your collection,” right? Your mannequins sound lovely Micki (and functional!).

  15. Hello, can you tell me how to go about selling a collection? My aunt (86) is emptying her house and she has quite a collection. Where to begin?
    Thank you.

  16. My collection was started by my great-grandmother, who passed it on to my grandmother, who added to it considerably and even won ribbons at various state and county fairs for it. She passed it on to my mother, who passed it on to me.

    There’s over 80 pieces still intact; the little rolled-up slips of paper with the date and location of where the pitcher was collected, have long since crumbled into dust. I do know there are a couple of pitchers that are well over 100 years old, more like 120.

    Right now they are packed away as my apartment is too small to host a display case. I have tried to add to the collection over the years, although I am aware that none of my three children are interested in inheriting it. That’s fine with me, just because it was of interest to my foremothers in no way obligates my progeny to continue if they don’t want to. It’s fun to look over, though.

    1. Sounds like an amazing collection Jay! I hope some day you’re able to start displaying them again. Maybe start with a small shelf and rotate small sets in and out?

  17. Hi,
    I found your site because I am trying to find a home for my Grandmother’s miniature pitcher collection of about 150 items. She started it in 1900 when friends who were traveling would send them to her. She cataloged who sent them to her, when she received them, and where they are from.
    I was thinking that this collection might be good to donate to a museum but I’m at a loss as to where to begin. Perhaps you could offer me some advice. It doesn’t seem as it anyone else in the family is interested in them and it’s too bad because it is an extraordinary collection of many decades.

    1. Sounds like a wonderful collection Nancy. I would reach out to a local museum and have a conversation with the director/curator there and get their input. If the collection isn’t right for their space, I’m thinking they could make a recommendation. Best of luck!

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