Lady head vases are whimsical, charming and popular collectibles. When shopping for lady head vases, it is helpful to be able to identify them and have a value in mind. Learning how to identify lady head vases is not particularly difficult and can allow you to discern whether a vase is rare, unusual, or a good value for the price. You can also avoid purchasing replicas and reproductions if you know how to identify lady head vases.
Identify lady head vases by their charming expressions, elaborate hairstyles, jewelry and fashions. Collectible lady head vases were produced from 1940 to 1970, keeping your collecting focus on specific styles, manufacturers or periods can make it easier to learn to identify lady head vases. Value is largely determined by rarity, in the case of American lady head vases or celebrity lady head vases or quality.
Take the time to look at a variety of lady head vases from different times and manufacturers. A price guide or collector's book is a useful resource for this like the Encyclopedia of Head Vases by Kathleen Cole or Mary Zavada's Lady Head Vases. Consider subscribing to Maddy Gordon's Head Hunters Newsletter at P.O. Box 83H, Scarsdale, NY 10583 for more information to help identify lady head vases.
Recognize maker's marks. Common lady head vase manufacturers include Inarco, Enesco, Napco, Lefton, Relpo and Reubens in Japan. Lady Head vases were made in America by Henry Holt and Betty Lou Nichols. Some manufacturers used paper labels. On the whole, while a maker's mark can be helpful when you identify a lady head vase, it is not significant in terms of the value of the piece.
Snap photos when shopping for lady head vases to help you identify the vase. You may find distinguishing features that allow you to identify an unmarked vase and better assess value. Use your price guides, newsletters and searches of sites like eBay to help you identify each of the lady head vases. Resources to help you identify lady head vases include Mary Zavada's Lady Head Vases and David Barron's Collecting Head Vases. Distinctive features may include clothing and accessories, a matte or glossy finish and hair and cosmetic styles. Lady head vases reflect the styles and fashions of their time, so if a vase looks to be from the 1950s, it likely is.
Look for both quality to help identify lady head vases. Modern reproductions are typically very poor quality, with sloppy painting and a rough or uneven finish. A good quality vintage lady head vase can be matte or glossy, between 4 inches and 7 inches tall and should be well painted and finished. Jewelry separate from the molded vase is often a sign of a good lady head vase, as is a detailed face and hat.
Buy what you love, even if it is a less valuable specimen. Most dealers will hold an item for you, allowing you time to go home and do your research.
Gift shops and other retailers sell reproduction lady head vases. Shop from reputable antique dealers to make sure you are buying vintage lady head vases.