By Gail Moore Woltkamp
It simply wouldn’t be Christmas without her. The vintage ceramic “cold paint” angel passed down to me from my grandmother is a keepsake I look forward to displaying year after year. Aside from her festive style and intricate design, it’s her signature Napco marking that confirms her authenticity to prime collectors.
National Potteries Corporation (Napco) was established in 1938 opening its doors in Bedford, Ohio, southeast of Cleveland. During its first peak in popularity, (the 1950s and 60s), the company distributed a variety of collectibles depicting the times, with products like birthday and Christmas angels, Lady Head Vases, (Remember the Lucille Ball one?) planters, ashtrays and nursery rhyme figurines.
This explosion in production of novelty items made them a much-familiar sight in my Midwestern household and I’m sure in others across the country.
Since I have long admired many of my family treasures, I decided to research more about the company. A quick discovery was “Napco: A Schiffer Book for Collectors,” by Kathleen Deel, which I purchased, and contains great info on various Napco collectibles.
Napco’s products stand out as they are known for being well-designed as items are distinctive, with a “cold paint” technique, referring to the outside finish of the ceramic item. The first coat consists of a clear glaze finish that’s been fired in a kiln. The item is then decoratively painted with cold paint.
Vintage and Today
The company’s success in maintaining its staying power reflects its ability to keep up with consumer interest along with leveraging the vintage marketplace.
In Napco’s vintage world, each product is marked with various paper labels, foil seals or markings featuring wording such as: “A Napco Collection;” “Napco originals by Giftware;” “National Potteries Co., Cleveland, OH; and “Napcoware, Import Japan.” fromgrandmastree.com
Today, Napco has an extensive product presence through online sales platforms like eBay, Pinterest and Collectors Weekly. The website, Napcoimports.com, has an impressive online catalog, and touts a customer-driven product line with a 150,000 square foot distribution center in Jacksonville, Florida.
NAPCO Marketing Corporation, a wholesale distributor of floral and plant containers, sells similar products and is owned by 1-800-Flowers.com, Inc.
To keep my family’s 1950s holiday nostalgia intact, I will pass down my cherished “cold-paint” Christmas angel, along with some other novelty keepsakes. After all, Christmas would not be Christmas without Napco! 🎁⛄️🎁
Deel, Kathleen; Napco, A Schiffer Book for Collectors; Schiffer Publishing Limited, 1999