ANTIQUE OF THE WEEK: Creamers Make Clever Collection

There’s something for everyone in the world of collecting! Recently I ran into a reader who enjoys saving and displaying lovely small pitchers. Creamers or syrups, as these are usually called, offer a beautiful example of dinnerware from the past.

Pitchers of all sizes were important elements of dining in days gone by. Tables were set with linens, china and proper serving dishes, even in the family home and on a daily basis. No one would place a carton of milk, bottle of soda or other commercial packaging on the table during a meal.

The required decorum meant that small pitchers were necessary to serve cream, milk, syrups, gravies and other condiments. Patterned glass, cut glass, colored glass and decorated china pitchers were a part of the mix of tableware used.

According to the website,, creamers with applied handles were produced from the beginning of pattern glass dishes until some time in the 1870s. After that time, almost all creamers were made with molded handles. The earlier ones were flint glass.

There were even individual creamers known as breakfast creamers. These smaller forms of normal-sized creamers come in all types of glassware patterns. Today’s popular Fiesta dinnerware produces its own version of these small pitchers that look like Fiesta’s full-size disk pitcher and are available in all colors.

But some of the fanciest antique creamers are made of colored glass. One example is an amethyst-colored Croesus ware pitcher, trimmed in gold. This little gem dates to the late 19th century.

Croesus ware is named after the sixth-century king of Lydia, known for his wealth. Riverside Glass Works of Wellsburg produced the beautiful glassware and it is highly collectible.

Introduced in 1897, it came in three colors: clear, emerald green and amethyst. The clear or “crystal” had no gold trim. According to a Scripps News Service column by Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson, the pieces made in green and amethyst were accented with gilding on the fan and the C-scroll area of the design. These two colored versions of Croesus are beautiful to display in a china cabinet or on the dining table.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many American glass companies made sets of pressed glass to be used on the table. These serving sets included butter dishes, salt shakers, jelly compotes, jam jars, toothpick holders, castor sets, berry sets (large master berry bowl and eight smaller individual berry bowls), creamers, sugar bowls, spooners, celery vases, syrup dispensers, cake stands, goblets, tumblers, banana stands, pickle jars, compotes and other pieces of glassware.

Of the three colors of glass in which Croesus was made, the crystal glass examples are the least valuable today and the examples in amethyst are the most valuable. Green Croesus is valued somewhere in between. Fendelman and Rosson are also authors of the book, “Treasures in Your Attic,” published by HarperCollins.

Victorian glassware and fancy pitchers are easy to find, too, so as flea market and garage sale season kicks off in full swing, why not consider creamers as a hobby? The best part about these pretty collectibles is that you can actually use them at the table.

For comments or suggestions on local treasures to be featured in Antique of the Week, Maureen Zambito can be reached via email at: or by writing in care of this newspaper.