The fifties were a great period of design, with whimsical interpretations of lamps, french poodles, and other aspects of everyday life turned upside down from the proletarian design of the 1940s. Today, the 1950s and 1960s are one of the hottest collecting areas, and right up there with the very best is the "pixieware" of the Holt-Howard Company of Stamford, Connecticut. Holt-Howard was created in 1948 by John and Robert Howard and A. Grant Holt, and the Holt Howard company from the beginning concentrated production on whimsical kitchen items and giftware. Animal themes quickly made their way into the Holt Howard design, with rooster egg cups and cat string holders, and even Santa Claus worked his way in with his own cookie jar.
Pixieware is what the Holt Howard company is best remembered for, produced from about 1958 until the early 1960s. Holt Howard Pixieware is immediately recognizable for the elf heads which adorn the condiment jars and other kitchenware, painted with bright colors and clever facial expressions from happiness to sadness.
The Holt Howard pixieware collection includes 12 different condiment jars, salt and pepper shakers, 3 liquor decanters, 5 cruets, and specialty items like ashtrays and ice cream sundae dishes. Holt-Howard production is marked Holt-Howard followed by the year of manufacture, plus Japan. Condiment jars are particularly collectible and are white with verticle stripes, and the name of the condiment is painted in black letters on the jar. For other Holt Howard pieces like liquor decanters, the name more commonly appears on the figure's head. The Holt Howard jar head has a spoon or two-pronged fork which went down into the jar and was used to scoop out the condiment.
Other manufacturers soon started copying Holt-Howard pixieware due to its popularity. Some of the companies to look for, which have become collected in their own right, are Davar, Lefton, Norcrest, M-G, and Lipper Mann. As with most collectibles, some pieces of pixieware are more common and less expensive than others; for pixieware, it tends to be the standard ketchup and mustard jars and other common condiments that are easiest to find. Rare pixieware includes specialty condiments such as Honey or Chili Sauce, or a variation like Instant Coffee. Holt-Howard pixieware commands by far the best prices. While you can still find pixieware at reasonable prices, be careful with the condition as many of the spoon/fork attachments to the lid have been broken over the years. Make sure that the head color and the color on the body of the jar are the same, and look for the Holt-Howard mark since most all H-H production was marked.
Holt-Howard ceased production in 1990.