Cash in the attic: Pot lids

Pot lids were one of the first examples of visually-attractive packaging. Made from pottery that had been transfer-printed with a design, they were used to cover pots containing pots such as food, toothpaste or bears' grease (a hair product). They were mainly produced in Staffordshire by companies such as F&R Pratt, who was granted a related patent in 1848, and J Ridgway.

Used to cover pots containing food, toothpaste or bears' grease

The first lids were produced during the 1820s and were mainly blue and white. Production grew in the 1830s and multi-coloured lids were introduced during the early 1840s. It isn't possible to date most lids with any accuracy as they were undated and most were produced for long periods. Those that commemorate specific events, such as exhibition, a war or a death of a personality can be dated more closely.

Types of lids

Before 1860, lids tended to be flat in profile and lightweight and they often had a simple screw threaded flange. From teh 1860s to mid-1870s, lids became heavier in weight and more domed and after 1875 they became even heavier but regained their flatter profiles. Early lids from the 1860s tend to be more desirable as the quality and the design and manufacture are typically higher.

Collecting lids

Pot lids first appeared at auction in 1924. Although they have fallen from fashion in recent years, pots lids still attract a group of dedicated collectors. Pieces from major 20th century collections such as Crowther or Cashmore collections, are particuarly sought after.

Condtion is very important. Damaged or restored lids will fetch lower sums that lids in good condition. Always consider the quality of the design in terms of the colours and level of detail - the best and boldest designs will usually be the most sought after. Different sizes and variations, such as the design of the border, will also often affect value.

Rimmel pot lid

This Rimmel Bears' Grease pot lid is valued at £300-£500. Eugene Rimmel (1820-87) founded his first perfume cooany with his father at just 14 in 1834. A great marketeer, known as the 'Prince of Perfumiers', he was awarded ten Royal Warrants for his innovative products, which were landmarks in the development of cosmetics. He also contributed greatly to improving standards of 19th century hygiene. His company survives today and is owned by Coty Inc.

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