At the thrift shop the other day I found this vintage cookie jar in the shape of a cat. It was not marked in any way and the price of $22 was a bit of a gamble since I like to at least double what I pay for an item when I sell it. The condition was excellent, no cracks, no chips in the paint, no major crazing. I knew that old cookie jars were popular so I took the risk and bought it.
Research led me to the American Bisque Company. The jar has the wedge shaped footing that is typical for that company. There were several jars in the same shape, except they were 1.5″ taller and most were solid color with cold paint. My jar was air brushed under the glaze. I know that knock offs are usually smaller than the original because the item being reproduced is used as the mold for the counterfeit.
I could find no good information about the jar online. So, I searched for books and found American Bisque, A Collector’s Guide by Mary Jane Giacomini. It was not available to view online and to buy one would cost at least $25. So I searched Inter-Library Loan and found the closest copies were in NY and VA. I put in a request at the my local library and a week later the book arrived from VA.
There was the cookie jar pictured on page 98. The author said that American Bisque started making cookie jars in the late 1930s. At first they were larger but the size was reduced when the company switched from boxing and shipping each item separately to placing several pieces in one big box. To make them all fit, the cookie jars were shrunken a little. The answer to the size difference. There was no indication of when this change occurred, so the age of this jar is hard to determine. The company went out of business in the early 1980s. Hundreds of these jars were probably produced, but the air brushed version appears to be more rare. There are very few offered for sale online. Currently one is listed on eBay for $200 with free shipping. Another is on TIAS for $150.
The only problems I can find with my cookie jar are an area inside the rim of the head that appears to have split some during production and chipped in that area after. A small spot on one hip has a rubbed area in the paint that looks like it occurred before firing. Inside on the bottom are a couple thin craze lines. Very minor issues for this sort of ware.
The jar is listed on auction in my eBay store for $90. I hope to get a taker. If there were more room in my display cabinet, I’d keep this little jar because the cat is adorable.