Black Americana Range Shakers CopiedBy

Black Americana Range Shakers Copied

Some of the best figural shakers in the field of black memorabilia were made by Pearl China. The most expensive Pearl shakers are the range-size male chef and female cook. Because of the value of originals, this set has been a favorite target for reproductions.

The first reproductions of these shakers were made in the early 1990s. In spring 2004, an improved version of the shakers (Fig. 1) appeared. Although they are better quality, the new pieces are still fairly easy to separate from the originals if you know what to look for.

The quickest way to identify the reproductions is to look at the holes in the base where original shakers were filled with salt or pepper. Filling holes in original range sized shakers are nearly 1-inch in diameter and are smooth rimmed, nearly perfect circles. Filling holes in reproductions are rough, irregular and often only about the size of a dime (Figs. 2-4).

Trim on original shakers – like the whites of eyes and red lips–were applied with paint over the glaze. Those details on the reproductions are under the glaze (Figs. 5-8). Original figures are always one-quarter to one-half inch larger than the reproductions (Figs. 9-10).

New range-size shakers wholesale for $12.50 per set. They are available in two colors: pale yellow and turquoise. Original Pearl China range-size sets can sell for $125-$155; original gold trimmed pieces may bring more.

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Fig. 1 New range-size shakers are a close copy of vintage originals by Pearl China. You can separate old from new by overall size, paint and filling holes.

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Figs. 2-3 Filling holes in the bases of new shakers are very irregular. Rims of new holes are typically missing glaze. (Holes shown close up for details, not to scale with old hole in Fig. 4)

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Fig. 4 Filling holes in the bases of old shakers are very nearly a perfect circle. Rims of old holes are typically smooth and evenly glazed. Original filling holes are about 1-inch in diameter.

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Fig. 5 Face on new chef shaker. Whites of the eyes and red lips on the new chef are under the glaze. They cannot be felt with your fingernail and do not show any wear.

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Fig. 6 Whites of the eyes and red lips on the old chef are applied with paint. The paint is applied over the glaze and is thick enough to be felt with your fingernail. The paint was not fired and usually shows at least some wear.

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Fig. 7 Whites of eyes and lips and head scarf of new cook are all under the glaze.

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Fig. 8 Whites of eyes and lips and head scarf of old cook are all painted over the glaze.

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Fig. 9 Reproduction shakers are smaller than the originals. New chefs are 7 inches or less; new cooks are 6½ inches or less.

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Fig. 10 Original shakers are larger than the reproductions. Old chefs are about 7½ inches; old cooks are 6¾ inches or more.