Press Release

LADY HEAD VASE COLLECTION OF MADDY GORDON WILL BE SOLD ONLINE, JULY 22, BY STRAWSER AUCTION GROUP



The online-only auction, starting at 6 pm Eastern time, will feature 214 lots, with names such as Lefton, Inarco, Relpo, Napco and many others. Bidding starts at just $1 for each vase.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

09/07/2024

Wolcottville, IN -- The first in a series of online-only auctions dedicated to the lady head vase collection of Maddy Gordon is slated for Monday, July 22nd, starting at 6 pm Eastern time, by Strawser Auction Group. Bidding will be handled exclusively through HiBid.com. This first sale will feature 214 lots of lady head vases. Bidding will start at just $1 for each vase up for bid.

To view the catalog, click this link: https://strawserauctions.hibid.com/catalog/557916/july-22-2024-online-head-vase-auction

Ms. Gordon’s collection, in its entirety, comprises more than 3,000 head vases. It will require up to seven auctions and several years to liquidate all of it. The makers include names such as Lefton, Inarco, Relpo, Napco and many others. All are wonderful representations of the figural vases in the form of a head (or bust) of a woman that have captivated collectors for decades.

Ms. Gordon isn’t just a collector. She’s written books and articles on the subject, and was the founder of the Head Hunters Newsletter and organizer of the annual Head Vase Conventions in Kissimmee, Florida for many years. She became a huge fan of America’s first head vase creator, Betty Lou Nichols, and authored the book, Head Vases, Etc., The Artistry of Betty Lou Nichols.

An article in Kovels Antique Trader stated that lady head vases “exude glamour with their perfectly coiffed hairdos, big lush eyelashes and ruby lips, elegant fashions, and sometimes adorned with pearls or other jewelry, a stylish hat or gloves - or sometimes all three accessories.”

Maddy Gordon, a New Yorker all her life, was the daughter of serious antique collectors and, through her training as a medical and psychiatric social worker, was well-equipped to recognize and appreciate the nuances of facial expressions. Not surprisingly, then, she became interested in lady head vases when they first began appearing at shows, shops and flea markets years ago.

While some people limit their collections to beautiful ladies, Maddy has been attracted to the whole universe, one that includes babies, animals, clowns, Madonnas, children, nurses, brides, and characters like Uncle Sam. Some are not vases at all but ashtrays, lipstick holders, head lamps and more. It’s estimated over 10,000 different varieties of head vases have been made.

Celebrity head vases have even crept into the mix over the years. Ones created in the likeness of Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly, Carmen Miranda and others have found their way into collections. These can include males, too, like Elvis Presley, but those are less common. A 1964 Jackie Kennedy head vase by Inarco sold for just under $1,000.

And now, a bit of history: lady head vases first appeared in Europe in the 19th century, with the earliest American examples not arriving on the scene until the 1930s. Lady head vases were often made in Japan after World War II, by companies like Enesco, Inarco, Lefton, Napco, Reubens and Relpo. American makers included Betty Lou Nichols, Royal Copley, Ceramic Arts Studio, Shawnee Pottery and Henry Holt. These could be purchased cheaply in packs of 6 or 12.

Florist companies produced the head vases as a marketing gimmick to sell small bouquets, which is why so many ended up in American homes in the 1950s and ‘60s. Retailers like Woolworth’s also sold them. By the 1970s thousands of different kinds of head vases were made, which led to a glut in the market, a decrease in demand, the end of the craze and a discontinuation of product.

To learn more about Strawser Auction Group and the first in a series of online-only auctions dedicated to the lady head vase collection of Maddy Gordon, slated for Monday, July 22nd, visit www.strawserauctions.com. Updates are posted often. You can reach Strawser Auction Group by phone at 260-854-2859 or 260-336-2204; or via email, at michael@strawserauctions.com.

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