Things are not always what they seem….

A Blue & White Swastika Pitcher


One of the peculiar factors about the antique business is the legends that grow up around some things, either from their owners or the dealers trying to add a little cache to them. Case in point is the piece pictured here.  Many times I’ve seen pitchers such as these labeled as being “Mid Victorian” items as they often carry no company markings. The fact is though, very few of this kind of pottery predates the turn of the 19th Century

Embossed blue & white pottery such as the one shown here were produced by a number of well-known mid-western companies such as Roseville and Brush McCoy, but they were deemed to be low cost utility ware for domestic use and, therefore, seldom marked. Originally, wares of this type were sold through mail order catalogues and general stores, and some were advertised premiums, to be given away with a purchase of flour, soap or lard.

The embossed decoration on some of these pieces have also led people to believe  their origins are from foreign soil, “War Booty” brought back by Grandpa during WW2 . It is easy to see how someone could be mislead though,  the pitcher shown is decorated with a swastika, which has led some to conclude that these were a German propaganda product. The truth is the swastika in this case has nothing to do with Nazi Germany. The type of swastika on it is a very ancient symbol used by many cultures world wide that predates the Nazi movement by thousands of years.  The word “swastika” is derived from the Sanskrit word “svastikah,” which means “being fortunate.” The swastika as used on this pitcher is meant as a good luck symbol and could be found on a great many items until it was made into a symbol of terror and oppression  by the Nazi’s during the run up to World War Two. Because these were  utility items, they led a rough life in kitchens, so they seldom are found in perfect condition. Many also often have manufacturing defects such as bubbles in the glaze which should not detract from their simple charm.