Reproductions of this cookie jar sell at auction for about $50.
Dear Helaine and Joe:
Please let me know if you are interested in our treasures. We think the cookie jar is Aunt Jemima. There is a big “B”on the base underneath.
M.S., Livonia, Mich.
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One of the reasons we decided to answer this question is the phrase, “let me know if you are interested in our treasures.”
This suggests to us that M. S. thinks we might want to purchase one of these items, and we want to state strongly and unequivocally that we never have and never will buy anything that comes to our attention through this column. It is completely unethical.
Collectors are interested in the various types of “mammy” cookie jars that were made by many companies across America. To name just a few, there was Brayton Laguna, McCoy, Metlox, Weller, Abington and Pearl China, among a number of others.
The mammy cookie jar in today’s question is supposedly the product of Mosaic Tile Co. of Zanesville, Ohio. The company was started by two men, Karl Langenbeck and Herman Mueller, who had previously been employed by American Encaustic Tile Co.
They were successful initially making floor tiles, but they later expanded into all sorts of tiles, including pictorial mural tiles, wall tiles and tiles that were used on the facade of structures. In the 1940s, the company made two large decorative panels that were 120 feet long by 7 1/2 feet tall depicting the development of Texas for the Will Rogers Memorial in Fort Worth.
Mosaic Tile stopped making faience tile in 1959 and tried to stay in business by making miscellaneous pottery products such as boxes, bookends, souvenirs, wall panels and the mammy cookie jar in today’s question. They could not compete with other pottery makers and the company closed in 1967.
Mosaic Tile’s mammy cookie jar is rather rare, and in certain color varieties is extremely rare. The original mammy cookie jar is 13 1/2 inches tall and is found most often wearing a yellow dress with a turban-like head covering. This would appear to be the type that M. S. has.
This yellow-dressed Mosaic Tile cookie jar mentioned above is worth up to about $600, but if the dress is blue the price jumps to $700 or $750. But if the dress happens to be peach and green, peach and blue, or blue and yellow, the value is three times more than the common yellow-dress examples.
Our problem with the cookie jar pictured here is that M. S. reports that it is marked with a big “B”on the base. Unfortunately, the original Mosaic Tile example is completely unmarked. Further examination and comparison with genuine examples reveals what we believe are subtle differences between the real Mosaic Tile mammy cookie jars and the one belonging to M. S.
Primarily, the smile on the one shown here is jovial and inviting while the smile on the originals are, well, different — more forced and less welcoming. But when all is said and done, it is the big “B”on the base that strongly suggests to us that this piece is just not right.
We feel this piece is a reproduction, and reproductions of this cookie jar sell at auction for about $50.