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Glass and Pottery Sellers’ Association - April 2005, Volume 25

Pie Birds:
It's Not Just Blackbirds That Are Baked Into Pies

Bill's Pie Bird

wgpaul Bill

While shopping at an outdoor flea market recently, I picked up a little bird figurine with his head raised high in the air and an open beak. My wife immediately said, "Oh, a pie bird!" "A what?" I asked. After listening to a short lecture on how little time I spend in the kitchen, my wife finally explained that the little guy was designed to be baked into a pie to prevent the contents of the pie from bubbling over.

Pie birds! I'd never heard of them but I was instantly hooked. I began to do homework on them and learned that pie birds were made in every bird you can imagine - bluebirds, crows, roosters, flamingos, even penguins!

Rare vintage pie birds are highly sought by collectors. A recent search on eBay showed 20 pie birds that sold between $100 and $400. Hundreds of others were selling in the $10 - $50 range. Pie birds were popular in England where they are called pie funnels. In the U.S., pie birds were made by many well-known potters including Morton, McCoy, Shawnee and Cleminson. Japanese pie birds were exported to the U.S. by Josef and other makers. Birds with long necks or beaks often command higher prices because they were more likely to be broken.

The name pie bird is somewhat misleading, as these items can be found in a variety of forms including bakers complete with white hats, elephants, dragons, Little Red Riding Hood and other fun figural shapes. Some collectors call all these items pie birds no matter what their shape; others call them pie vents.

To use a pie bird, place the bottom crust of the pie into the pan. Add filling around the pie bird's base. Cut a slice into the top crust and place it over the bird's head - sort of like putting on a poncho. Then press the crust around the base to close the slit. Crimp the edges as usual and bake. Steam will be released out of the opening in the bird's mouth and prevent it from spilling over into your oven.

Pie birds are still being produced today. Many potters specialize in figural pie vents for collectors. Contemporary pie birds make inexpensive but charming gifts for a hostess or chef. Some of the highest priced vintage pie birds have also been reproduced, including a Clarice Cliff pie bird from England.

You may be wondering about the pie bird that I picked up that day at the flea market. It turns out that it was a contemporary bird that sells new in stores for about $10. I haven't made a pie with him, but he sits on my desk looking like he's ready to burst into song at any moment. My pie bird may never make me rich, but I can always count on him to make me smile.


  1. The first item made by Cleminson Pottery of California was a pie bird. One like this sold recently on eBay for $90.
  2. Long necked Pearl China birds are among the most collectable of pie birds. A Pearl China bird similar to this one sold last month for $425.
  3. This frequently found elephant pie bird was made in England and is often found marked with the words Nutbrown Pie Funnel.
  4. This Newport Pottery pie bird attributed to Clarice Cliff has been reproduced. Collectors look for the Newport Pottery mark as well as an incised registration number to verify authenticity. Originals sell in the $40 - $60 range.
Betty Cleminson pie bird Pearl China pie bird Elephant Nutbrown Pie Funnel Clarice Cliff Newport pie bird

PLEASE NOTE: These photos can be printed for your own collection files, but are not to be used for any Internet auction listings, websites, or any other commercial purposes. The photos provided for this article are from the personal collection of the author or with permission from the owner.

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Featured Sellers

GPSA’s Featured Sellers this month are bpprat, gabla, jpthings, and thetreasuredbutterfly. We encourage you to click on their seller IDs and visit their eBay auctions.


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Member’s Pick: Website of the Month

by FanofFenton Sarah

This site, ChinaFinders, is based in Australia. They are the Australian equivalent for Replacements, Inc. of the United States. However, thatís not the reason that I selected this site this month. As you browse through the site youíll find pattern matching pages and some great links to independent companies or consortiums. But, one of the greatest options found here is to browse the History of China Production. The companies documented can be found on the left side of the page and for nearly every firm, there is a brief history of the company from beginning to today or to when the company closed. The companies listed include English, German and U.S. firms. Enjoy!

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Don’t You Wish You Had One of These?

by wgpaul

Photo Courtesy of mreynolds04

This stunning piece (click image for closeup) sold recently on eBay for $5,850.50. It is a sensational 19th century bride's bowl resting in a silverplate holder. The bowl sits in the arms of three beautifully detailed cherubs. The blue diamond quilted mother-of-pearl bowl is cased with a pink interior. It is decorated with a detailed floral and leaf design in hand painted enamel. The highly detailed silverplate base has three personalized engravings, including one dated 1888. It was manufactured by Wilcox Silverplate. Congratulations to eBay seller mreynolds04 on this outstanding sale!


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It happens every day! You anticipate receiving an item you won at auction. It arrives, and you open the box to see...pottery shards or slivers of glass!

Have you noticed how some auction photos just seem to scream “BUY ME!” while others are so fuzzy and far away you’re not sure what is being offered?

We share a few practical tips on photo taking and packing to help you get that item safely to your buyer! Our GPSA website offers a more in-depth look at valuable packing and photo tips. Please visit and have a look around!

Listing Tips

This month we offer some listing tips from GPSA member marketpl:

Let's be honest here

Being in the glass and pottery "trade" I often come across auction listings with misleading and erroneous information.

Just because Granny was 90 years old when she left this world does not mean everything in her possession was acquired on the day of her birth. She might have gotten it last year.

Mint condition does not mean except for the small hairline crack. Mint means the same condition it was in when it first left the store, period.

Like new would be a small step down from mint. Excellent condition is great for an item that shows light normal wear but has no visible defects. Then there's Very Good, Good, and Fair condition. Vintage is used loosely for anything from the 1950s through the 1970s. Antique is 50+ years in the U.S. and over 100 years anywhere else in the world. Or, just use "age unknown."

I see alot of HTF (hard to find). It's not HTF if there are several other listings currently running for the same item. Do your homework before you list.

Another overworked term is Rare. If it's "rare" you'd better be prepared to back it up with some publication or reference, and answer the question, why is it rare?

I do not normally use multiple photos in my auctions unless there is something specific I need to show the buyer, like the reverse side, or a chip, crack, color flaw, unusual maker's mark, etc.

A good listing has a clear, uncluttered close-up photo of the item for sale. This should not include your fingers or hands, other items, kitchen sinks or wide angle shots of the living room. They want to see what you're selling and nothing else. This is what they are buying. If they can't see it, you won't sell it.

Also, after the listing is up, open each one and make sure it reads well and the picture is good. I launch my auctions in multiples and have had a few where the text got scrambled and chopped up. If I had not checked and corrected it, the item would not have sold based on the garbled description.

For the most part, we are dealing with a segment of the world's population that is literate, educated, computer savvy, trusting, and who expects accuracy and honesty from us in our listings.

Let's give it to them.


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No reserve clearance sales, less than ONE DOLLAR!

GPSA sellers are still listing clearance items. All items start at an opening bid of 99¢. Don’t miss this opportunity to pick up a bargain from one of our reliable GPSA sellers! All sellers abide by the GPSA guidelines found on our home page.

Find a bargain! Deals and Steals!

To see Shazaam listings at any time, click here. Check back often — sellers add items all the time!


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Welcome New Members

We’re so happy to have you join us!!

The following eBay sellers became GPSA members in March 2005. As members of the GPSA, they have committed to upholding the standards of the Glass & Pottery Sellers’ Association.

  • CattailCreekFarm
  • 4ugoodsale
  • dikkiij
Welcome New Members
  • clutter_girl
  • raleighlinda

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