“We were going through some items that belonged to my aunt. She had figurines of nuns playing baseball. One was pitching, one was batting, and the third was catching. On the bottom of each was a number, ©NAPCO, 1956, National Potteries Co., Cleveland, and Made in Japan. Can you help me find information about them?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff was intrigued by these little figures and first began looking in some of our general books of collectibles such as The Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide by Ralph and Terry Kovel. There being nothing about the National Potteries, we began to look more specifically in Antique Trader Pottery and Porcelain Ceramics Price Guide and Ohio Pottery and Glass: marks and manufacturers by Lois Lehner. Even though the latter listed fourteen manufacturers in Cuyahoga County, thirteen in Cleveland and one in Bedford, none were NAPCO.
The search continued online. The Antique Ceramic Restoration and Conservation Discussion Board at http://antiquerestorers.com while discussing monks playing baseball does not make mention of nuns. Some of the online sales sites such as Ebay show NAPCO nuns who are doing various activities including ice skating, skiing and sledding. We were not able to locate any of the nuns playing baseball. One of our staff remembers their family having a set of these nuns many years ago, and thought that they might have been purchased at a convent in Bedford, Ohio. There was a convent of the Vincentian Sisters of Charity of Bedford which merged with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in 2004, but we were not able to verify that items could be purchased from them in the 1950s.
PRLog Free Press Release [www.prlog.org] and Hills Housewares [www.hillhousewares.com] both had information about the NAPCO Company or National Potteries Corporation. It was located in Bedford, Ohio and they began production in 1938. Besides producing collectibles such as head vases, salt and pepper shakers, and figurines they also produced glassware. Their green glassware is like the color of Anchor Hockings Forest Green. According to PRLog’s article the company was especially prolific in production during the 1950s and 1960s and collectors believed that their ceramic items were well-designed. The business moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 1980s after being purchased by the Japanese company, Napco. It would appear that the company has evolved into the Napco Marketing Corporation [http://www.napcomarketing.com], importing and distributing floral, gift, and home decor items.