We have a beautiful, large vintage porcelain pitcher produced by the William Guerin Factory in Limoges, France sometime between 1891 and 1932. This is a 'squat' pitcher (often called a cider pitcher) that stands 6-1/2" in height from its base to the top of the spout, and rests on a base that measures 5" in diameter. This large vintage French porcelain pitcher easily holds 2-1/2 quarts, or 10 cups of fluid. This lovely squat cider pitcher has a background painted in soft browns at the base trending towards soft blue at the rim. A most charming and unusual color combination for the period! Transfers of pine cone designs were applied over the base colors, and the rim and handle were painted in a soft, muted gold. This simply decorated, yet elegant vintage porcelain pitcher is in near perfect condition, despite its age. It has no chips, cracks, dings or discolorations. As our photographs show, the crimp at the rim was a minor impression made while the clay was still soft, and does not continue through the clay to the interior. There are minor signs of use on the gold handle that are typical for the age of the piece. However, there is no area of the handle where the gold has worn away.
This vintage French porcelain pitcher only bears the Guerin green backstamp, meaning that it was produced at the factory in Limoges, France, and exported somewhere else to be decorated. The pitcher was likely not decorated at one of the famous porcelain decorating studios like Stouffer and Pickard in Chicago, Illinois, because there is no second backstamp on the base (although many studios, like the Osborne Studio, could be very irregular about stamping their products, and sometimes used decals - in lieu of printed marks - that came off after washing). Nor is the pitcher initialed or signed, so we don't know with any certainty if the lovely pine cone cider pitcher was decorated by one of the decorating studios' professional artists, working on the side to make extra money as many of them did. What we do know is that this pitcher was decorated by a skilled artist - whether amateur or professional, we can't be certain. However, given the quality of work on this pitcher, we suspect that it was the product of a professional artist working on the side. This suspicion is further supported by the fact that there is a small line or crimp (not a crack) visible at the rim of the pitcher when its handle is to the right. A mark like this would likely have landed the white ware in the reject pile of one of the more prominent decorating studios.
The seasons are changing and the holidays will soon be upon us. This vintage squat porcelain cider pitcher fits in perfectly with the season with its unique colors and pine cone theme. Whether you are adding to a pitcher collection, looking for the perfect gift for a Limoges collector, or purchasing a vintage French piece to adorn your own table, this beautiful William Guerin porcelain pine cone pitcher is a piece well worth acquiring!
BRIEF HISTORY: The William Guerin Company began in the early 1870's and made table china and white wares (i.e. wares that were undecorated) that were often exported abroad, especially to the United States. "China painting" porcelain white wares was an avid amateur hobby during the first quarter of the 20th century in the United States. The white ware pieces are distinguished by having only one factory mark, often a green under-glaze mark, whereas the pieces decorated at the Guerin factory would have two distinct marks. Shortly after the end of WWI, the Guerin factory was purchased by Bawo and Dotter. The factory went out of business in 1932.