Monday, August 25, 2008


Pottery canisters gained popularity in the late Victorian era. Made of somewhat fragile porcelain, it is amazing that these sets still exist in decent condition today. Unlike the “show” kitchens that exist today, the Victorian kitchen was used daily…no fast food in the early 1900s…but these sets represent the elegance of the times with the concept of usefulness as well.

The canisters were imported in large quantities in the early 1900s from Germany and Czechoslovakia. The sets averaged 13 pieces and were advertised in a Sear Catolog as a cereal set that included oatmeal, rice, prunes, sugar, coffee, tea as well as spices: cloves, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. The price tag in 1908 was $2.69 which is about $143 in today's world. So, these sets probably found their way into upper class homes. Note the set above the stove in this photo.

The saltbox was sold separately, and, because it saw heavy use, many of them probably did not survive as well as the canisters. Some sets also included oil and vinegar, and the lids were either porcelain or cork. The set in my shop does not have the lids so I believe they were probably porcelain and did not survive.

You can tell the age of the sets by the marks. Starting around 1910, the United States began wanting foreign manufacturers to be more specific with this identification and, over the years, those labels or marks went from just “France,” “England” or “German” (and so forth) to “Made in France,” “Made in England” and “Made in Germany.”

Right now these canister sets are affordable again. A decade ago they could command $400 and $500, but now you can buy sets for less $100 or $200 depending on the condition and how complete the set is. Again...a look back at the romance of the kitchen. We have all the latest technology in our kitchens today, but have we sacrificed some of the charm and beauty? Or, does a canister set on the counter give us the best of all worlds?

21 comments:

Carolee Crafts said...

Elegance and usefullness, what a combination as you said don't think out croc's will be around that long.

lisa said...

Susan

Those canisters are beautiful. Thanks for the lesson.

Lisa
www.palepinkandroses.com

gail said...

Hi Susan,, what a great post. The cannisters are so pretty. I always enjoy learning about something new here every week. Thanks.
Thanks for stopping by my blog,and you are right, it was awful moving all of those books. lol (())gail

kath@retromantic antiques said...

Love your educational posts. The canisters are amazing. k

Janet Bernasconi said...

Hi Susan!

The canisters are wonderful! You always show us the pretties things. I love to visit you and learn something new every time. Great Show and Tell.
Hope you have a fantastic week.
XO
Janet
p.s. how is your friend doing?

Cottage Flair said...

Susan,
The canisters are great and a fun read as usual. I LOVE the kitchen photo.
Jennifer

Michelle M. May said...

Hey my friend,
Thanks for the lesson. I just love those canisters. They are so beautiful.
Have a fun week,hugs
Michelle

Cathy said...

Susan, You have NO IDEA how much I adore these canister sets. I have 3 or 4 individual ones and always wanted an entire set, but my house is too small and it's filled up with goodies already, but I just love this post.

Thank you, xo Cath

Inka Thomas said...

Susan,
I love the canisters. I have always wanted a salt box. Love the blue ones.
Inka

Debbie said...

Hi Susan.....those are beautiful canisters....your whole kitchen is beautiful...love that stove!

Pink hugs,
Debbie

cathy said...

I always learn so much from your blog Susan! This was so interesting. I love that kitchen too.

Patricia said...

I love a cannister set on the counter. Would really love that cannister set on my counter, wow!
That cute little stove is pretty nice too! Another great post, thanks.

Pat

Susie said...

Susan, These are some of my favorite things. I don't have a set but I am aways eyeballing them.
Susie
The Polka Dot Rose

Flowerchild Clay Queen Angel Heart Designs said...

Hi! Susan...those are so cute! Thanks for sharing...I would love a set like those...
Cindy :)

Silena said...

Hi Susan,
Thank you for a great post about kitchen canisters...a fun and useful item in yesterdays homes! Your kitchen is beautiful...what fun it would be to have a dreamy kitchen like that!

Carrie Gonzalez said...

Susan
Those canisters are really lovely. Amazing kitchen by the way! Have a wonderful week!
Carrie

K&E@forgetmenotdreams said...

Darling canisters and great info!
Eileen
www.forgetmenotdreams.com

Francie of The Scented Cottage said...

Imagine my surprise to see MY cannisters on YOUR blog...LOL.

I have a set with the salt box and the spices too. I love it and wouldn't give it up even when offered $500. for it. It belonged to my children's great aunt.

Thanks for sharing with us, I usually pick up some new information from you. (())
PS I thought everyone knew who I was, isn't that the height of conceit? LOL LOL LOL

Theresa said...

Susan,
As usual a veritable feast of information. I have missed a few posts, so I went back and read them. I was interested in your 7 items post. (Although I would lean towards the Peggy Noonan side of the editorial aisle, lol).
Have a lovely evening,
Theresa @ Cottage Violets

SoCal Helene said...

What a wonderful set. We still have a wall mounted set in the old house back home, its off-white and have green d├ęcor, I always liked it a lot!!
Have a great week!
Helene

sita said...

just lovely! I would love to have a set! Thanks for sharing them,
Sita