Ever Wonder About The History Behind The
Intricately Designed Wire Copper-Curl Head Vases?
A fellow collector, Susan Munz is a 10-year veteran to the head vase collector world. Prior to owning her first head vase, Susan collected porcelain hands of all kinds and ceramics from figurines to dishes to vases and other similarly shaped treasures.
Her loyalty eventually shifted to head vases, particularly the ladies created by Hermione Chase Palmer . . . now turned into gorgeous collection that she’s been growing for more than six years. You might recognize the name Hermione from its association with the artist’s infamous, patented wire copper curls. These heads were hand made using California red clay and all feature the artist’s patented curled copper wire hair.
Susan’s current collection includes nearly 30 heads and numerous other pieces of Hermione pottery, including dresser sets, lamps, Christmas decorations, figurines, vanity pieces and even two oil paintings. The heads range in size from 4” to more than 8” tall.
Last year, she was fortunate enough to meet the gentleman who purchased the estate of Ms.Palmer and obtained a number of pieces from the artist’s personal collection, some of which have never even been published before. Susan is looking forward to inheriting Hermione’s personal scrapbook where she kept the original paperwork for the patent for the heads, as well as numerous original photographs of Ms. Palmer and many newspaper clippings about her and her artwork from the 1930’s and 40’s. The scrapbook itself is nearly 200 pages long and includes articles, pictures, and newspaper clippings, dating back to 1929. She’s thrilled, as I’m sure you can imagine.
A little background about Hermione Palmer: she was born April 8, 1905 – the grandniece of United States President James Buchanan. She attended the University of California at Berkeley from 1923 to 1927, which is where she began her illustration career. She did quite well while at Berkeley; in fact, her "Co-ed Cora," became a copyrighted nationally syndicated comic strip. When her education was complete, the artist went to work for the San Francisco Examiner as a cartoonist. The earliest dated piece in her scrapbook was from her work at the newspaper was 1932. This may suggest she tried to start a career as a galleried artist from the time she graduated until joining the Examiner. Hermione married and became Mrs. Chase one of the bank Chase’s, who only lived two months after their marriage in 1955. There is no evidence of an earlier or later marriage, except to her first love, art, in all of its forms.
The artist painted as early as the late twenties, but as of now the information included in the literature of the estate cannot give the observer a concrete period on what subject matter she painted at that time. There is a newspaper article which advertises a one woman gallery showing as early as 1937 and mentions watercolors, but again her watercolors range from landscapes to abstract expressionism.
We can speculate that maybe the reason this great artist’s memoirs weren’t solely focused on her art career was because of her genius in the ceramic field. Mrs. Palmer was producing pottery by the mid 1930's in an old warehouse and selling them in a two story frame house with 40 female employees. Later she maintained a beautiful store on Loz Feliz in Glendale, California. Mrs. Palmer is a lifetime member of the Society of illustrators.
Susan has become an avid seeker and collector of anything “Hermione”. She’s happy to share photos and information with anyone else with a similar interest. By all means, anyone who would like to trade, sell, or swap Hermione, please contact her as she’s always on the lookout for