Members' Window # 97
by Craig Dorman
(click on images to enlarge)


It's not often that silver items start a "craze" that leads to massive production of similarly shaped pottery items... but that's what happened in the late 1700s when John Schuppe, a Dutch silversmith transplanted to London, popularized silver cow creamers (later immortalized by P.G.Wodehouse in the Code of the Woosters, the first of the Totleigh Towers saga, where Jeeves saves the cow creamer). I had been fascinated by cow creamers ever since I had a simple china one as a small boy (my mother disdained from putting anything as gauche as a milk bottle on the table) and had started a modest and inexpensive collection, but I didn't know anything about their origin and 18-19c popularity until I lived in London in the mid 90's and visited the Victoria and Albert Museum. Three Schuppe creamers were on display, and then one day in the silver vaults I found one I could buy and learned a bit more about their history (and current value) from the knowledgeable vendor. So now I have over 65 silver cow creamers and am always on the lookout for more.

Since silver was and is expensive, the silver cow creamers' popularity morphed into ceramic versions so folks "downstairs" could share the propensity of those "upstairs" for having a spot of milk or cream, properly served, with their tea. The main British potteries at the time (even now) were in Staffordshire, and by the early 1800s they were churning out ceramic cow creamers by the hundreds. These were utilitarian as opposed to purely decorative items so most of them have suffered considerable damage over the years, although they have increased considerably in value and many of the early ones, as well as the fancier ones from the Victorian era, rival the silver cows in price. The superb Keiller collection of 600+ of them can be viewed (about 200 at a time) at the Stoke-on-Trent Museum and Art Gallery.

Schuppe of course didn't saturate the silver cow market, so many other Dutch, then German and other continental silversmiths started to fashion them, although primarily for export to England. Many of them were and even still are modeled after Schuppe’s – two signature items being the scrawny legs and the accompanying fly on the lid. Over time however a wide range of forms and sizes have emerged and I'll confess to adding to the diversity with a couple of my commissions. I've included a few examples here, and there are many more – as well as cow creamers (and cow teapots, pitchers, suiteki etc.) of various other forms and materials plus some additional historical information, on my web site, I would also note that like many collectors, I have a number of pieces with marks that I haven't been able to identify... so I hope to take advantage of ASCAS members for a bit of help from time to time.

This is one of Schuppe's originals – and her marks for London 1768. Accompanying her is a "herd" where she's joined by another original and three copies from London silversmiths, dating from 1958 and 2002. Incidentally, that's a US quarter used to show size.
John Schuppe's silver cow creamer: London 1768 John Schuppe's hallmark
John Schuppe's silver cow creamer
Sterling Silver hallmark: John Schuppe, London, 1768
a 'herd' of silver cow creamers
A "herd" of cow creamers: two ancient John Schuppe's silver cow creamers accompanied
by three modern copies bearing hallmarks of London silversmiths from 1958 to 2002
Here's another modern take-off on the theme, Dalina and her marks including the 2002 Queen Elizabeth Jubilee mark, crafted for me by British silversmith Veronica Jane Shaw.
a modern cow creamer: silversmith Veronica Jane Shaw Veronica Jane Shaw's hallmark
A modern cow creamer:
silversmith Veronica Jane Shaw
Sterling Silver hallmark:
Veronica Jane Shaw, London, 2002
This one, with the Schuppe-like legs but distinctive horns and a fly that's taking off, is Dutch, marked for Herbert Hooijkaas of Schoonhoven (the M on the Minerva's head is the local assay office mark) and dates from 1951. It's .833 silver made for export if I've read the marks correctly.
A Dutch cow creamer A Dutch cow creamer
A Dutch cow creamer
Dutch silver hallmark: Herbert Hooijkaas
Dutch silver hallmark: Herbert Hooijkaas of Schoonhoven
These two 20th century German cows show the range of sizes in my collection. I've included their marks since I've not been able to identify the makers – the little guy with red eyes is by "B&Z" (I have several small ones by this silversmith) and the larger one simply features the left side of a pacing lion (or tiger?) as well as the post-1886 "Halbmund und Krone". Since both are impressed "GERMANY" in English script, I'd expect they were made for export. Help here would be greatly appreciated.
Two German cow creamers
Two German cow creamers
Mark on German cow creamer Mark on German cow creamer
Marks on German cow creamers
Some gender-confused bulls give milk, too; this one bears another German mark that I’ve not been able to identify.
Another German 'cow' creamer Marks on German 'cow' creamer
Another German "cow" creamer
Marks on German "cow" creamer
Finally for this first installment, since ASCAS hails from Italy, I've included this little beauty that comes from the firm of Giuseppe Belfiore of Firenze which was founded in 1948 and is now run by his son and daughter (see
An Italian cow creamer made by Belfiore align= Belfiore mark on Italian cow creamer
An Italian cow creamer
Belfiore mark on Italian cow creamer
Craig Dorman
- 2012 -
Craig Dorman's collection of cow creamers now numbers somewhere well over a thousand and continues to grow, weekly if not daily.
In this page Craig presents some of his silver cow creamers, ancient and modern.
He trusts on the help of ASCAS' members to identify the makers of some silver pieces on his collection.
A wider illustration of Craig's collection is presented at