Head Hunter: Ann Schang's lady head vases 2013.05.15

Written by David Green.

lady heads.5p.lady heads.1p.lady heads.3By DAVID GREEN

Ann Schang knows how it started. She can quickly point to the first lady head vase she ever acquired. That was dozens and dozens of vases ago. She figures she owns about 180 of them now, and she thinks she's finished collecting. After all, there's only so much room in her Fayette home.

Lady head vases became popular in the 1950s and production continued into the 1970s. Interest dwindled at that time, but not forever.

"People like me started collecting them and they became really popular again," Ann said.

Collectors are familiar with all the leading names, including Relpo, Lefton, Rubens, Napco and Enesco. Most producers were located in Japan, but there were exceptions such as Royal Copley from Sebring, Ohio.

All told, they produced an estimated 10,000 varieties of the vases—a fact that suddenly makes Ann's collection seem rather small.

But she's filled a display in her dining room, there are others packed into display cases in her living room, there's another display case in a bedroom, along with others placed on shelving. She's taken a sampling to Normal Memorial Library for a display in the library's entryway through the month of May.

It's the face that people look at, but take a peek on top and discover why they're called lady head vases. Each has a hole on top to hold a small display of flowers. The vases were commonly sold in floral shops and a few of Ann's show the stain of use inside them. One design is flat on one side to hang as a wall pocket for flowers. Three size classifications are given by collectors—miniature, medium and large—and one series of small vases, known as Sweet Keepers, originally held candy.

"I started collecting in the 1970s," Ann said, and she received a lot of help. "Someone would stop by with some and say, 'I hope you want these.'"

"Yes, I do," was the answer she always gave.

Lady head vases are mostly just that—women's faces—but there's a wide variety of designs. Some are hand-painted; some have no color at all or just a simple splash of brightness; some have heavy, thick eyelashes; some came with a porcelain umbrella.

Ann has her favorites: "I like the ones with hats and hands and jewelry. Some are very stylish."

Ann figures she paid around $8 for most of the vases she purchased and she's seen them in collector books listed for $35 and $45. Eventually she'll have to decide what to do with her collection. She's already heard from her family that they don't think they want the collection to move on into their homes.

She said her collecting is done, but she could always be persuaded to break that pledge. There are a few rare items that she would love to display in her house.

"I'm still looking for a Marilyn Monroe and a Jackie Kennedy," she said.

  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.grieders
    ONE-TWO PUNCH—Morenci’s Griffin Grieder saved his best for last, running his fastest time ever in the 110-meter high hurdles at the state finals Saturday in Grand Rapids to finish first in the state in Div. IV. His brother Luke, a junior (right), claimed the state runner-up spot. Bulldog junior Bailee Dominique placed seventh in the 100-meter dash.
  • Front.sidewalk
    MORENCI senior class president Mikayla Price leads the way Sunday afternoon from the Church of the Nazarene to the United Methodist Church for the baccalaureate ceremony. Later in the day, 39 members of the senior class received diplomas in the high school gymnasium.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017