These two ceramic planters with deer figures have long been my favorites at Carnegie Antiques, and today they finally went home to live with two little girls.
A man was looking for birthday gifts for his granddaughters who are 9 and 10, and whose birthdays are close enough together that they celebrate at the same time. He has always found “two” of an item, not exactly alike, but enough that they feel equal. We had had other neat things girls that age would enjoy from what he described—a Victorian vanity set with a brush, comb and hand mirror, little decorative boxes, hats, dolls—but of these there was only one thing left. We looked at animal jewelry and ceramic figures, but even the owl necklaces were all too different to be paired together.
As we walked around and talked I saw the yellow deer standing on the burgundy planter and asked if they might like this. I knew there was another just like it around somewhere, though it was a different color combination. They could use it as a pencil cup or just toss stuff into it, or actually put a plant in it.
Yes, they would, he said. So off I went through six rooms, looked in the first spot I remembered having seen it, and the second spot, remembering a friend of mine had purchased a deer planter and began to lose hope, looked in the third spot and also began considering other figures, but there it was, the yellow deer with the green planter.
These animal-themed planters, along with other themes, were very popular gifts for hospital patients beginning just after WWII when people actually began to visit the hospital on a regular basis. This included plenty of women who gave birth in a hospital instead of at home, as had always been the standard practice. They were intended to brighten a person’s spirits as they recovered, and give them something happy to take home. I believe the plants were usually those hardy heart-leaf philodendrons; I also remember every home with older relatives had at least one philodendron and I presume this was the reason why.
I wrapped them imagining two little girls with their colorful deer pencil cups, which decades ago had brightened the day for someone, and possibly more than one someone through the years, and they are still capable of bringing happiness to another generation.