Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Figural Cookie Jars Hold Delicious Delights

QUESTION: I have a Goldilocks cookie jar...it was my mother-in-law’s mother’s, bought a long long time ago. On the bottom it has “Patent Pending” and the number 405.  Can you give me any information on this cookie jar?

ANSWER: The Regal Pottery Company, later known as Regal China, produced your beloved Goldilocks cookie jar in the 1940s. The jar stands a foot tall and is nine inches wide, and, yes, has “Goldilocks Pat Pend #405" stamped into the clay on its base.

Established in 1938, the company, located in Antioch, Illinois, remained in business for more then 50 years and became known for its high quality non-porous china and for the rich colored glazes that they used, especially on the fine cookie jars they made. Even earlier pieces of Regal china seldom have any crazing in the glaze. Besides the Goldilocks jar and lots of others, Regal also made the Quaker Oats cookie jar. Rumor had it that they made the original jar as a premium for the employees of the Quaker Oats Company. On the back of this cookie jar is the famous Quaker Oats Oatmeal Cookie Recipe. Unfortunately, the decline of the decanter business–Regal China also produced liquor decanters—forced the company to close in June of 1992.

Cookie jars don't have to be old to have substantial value since collectors determine a jar’s value  by design, rarity and condition more than its age. Though the British used covered jars of cut glass and silver made especially to hold shortbread biscuits during the 19th Century, thus the name “biscuit jar,” it was the American pottery jar that first caught the eye of collectors.

The first American cookie jars, either glass or pottery, gained popularity at the start of the Great Depression in 1929. Shaped like covered glass cylinders or pots with screw-on lids, these early cookie containers were more utilitarian than decorative although they were often painted with floral or leaf decorations.
The Brush Pottery Company of Zanesville, Ohio, produced the first ceramic cookie jar, in green and with "Cookies" painted on the front. The company marked their jars with “Brush USA.”
By the mid-1930s, stoneware became the predominant material for American cookie jars.

As the end of the 1930s decade dawned, most manufacturers followed the move to molded pottery, and designers became more innovative as they began to produce cookie jars in figural shapes resembling fruits, vegetables, animals, and other whimsical characters such as Goldilocks.

The golden age of American cookie jars got underway in 1940 and lasted until 1970, with several manufacturers rising to prominence, including the Red Wing, McCoy, Brush,. Hull, Regal China, Metlox, Shawnee, and Robinson-Ransbottom companies. Many of these companies located in the clay-rich Ohio River Valley. By the mid-1940s, cartoons and comics inspired many makers to reproduce the popular characters of the day–Superman, Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo, Mickey Mouse, and Woody Woodpecker, to name a few.

Collectors love McCoy cookie jars. The company, based in Roseville, Ohio, produced cookie jars from about 1939 until 1987. Their first jar–the “Mammy” cookie jar–is today one of the most valuable.

American Bisque of Williamstown, West Virginia is recognized as another top U. S. manufacturer, beginning in the mid-1930s. They’re particularly well known for the cartoon characters which they translated into cookie jars, and they marked them “U.S.A.” on the bottom.

Other well respected U.S. manufacturers are known for particular cookie jars or series, such as Metlox of California, maker of the highly sought after Little Red Riding Hood jar, and the Abingdon Pottery of Illinois, maker of the Mother Goose jar series.

Today, with the advent of Zip-Loc packaging and plastic, air-tight containers, the cookie jar, for the most part, has gone the way of the horse and buggy and the Ford Edzel. But the nostalgia lives in on the cookie jar collections of hundreds of admirers who long for those good old days and the delicious homemade cookies found inside these jars.


1 comment:

Gary Blanchette said...

In regards to the Goldilocks cookie jar from the 40s. My wife and I have one that we bought at an antique action in or around 1973. Your info states that the bottom has >>“Patent Pending” and the number 405.<< on the bottom. Ours only has a 405 stamped on the bottom. Also, Ours has yellow but no green on the bow like in your photo. Any help helping us find out what the deal is with our would be appreciated. Thanks! Gary