As the “year of the decorator” continues, here’s a question that’s stymied many a collector: just what is a “lunch hour piece”?


Dear CAS Collectors:


I’m puzzled. I recently acquired a figurine that appears to be from the same mold as those CAS cat figurines of the 1940s.  The markings, however, a distinctly different, and much more elaborate. Any ideas?




Dear Kitty:


From the photo you enclosed, the mold does appear to be that of the Persian Cat Mother, designed by Betty Harrington for CAS, and released in 1949. However, as you noted, the markings are quite different. The Persian Cat Mother, as released, is all white. I do think though, that this is a CAS Persian. While some overseas companies did knockoffs of Ceramic Arts pieces, there would be evident differences in the mold, and the decoration would be markedly inferior.


The correct answer should have you purring. At CAS, decorators were often given the opportunity to decorate “lunch hour pieces” for their own use, or to give as gifts. The molds were standard, but the decorators had the opportunity to add individual flair in colors and glaze finishes, as these pieces were not commercially released. Sometimes, the decorator of such a piece would add her name on the base. The “lunch hour” term came about because pieces like this were done on the decorator’s free time – for instance, during a lunch break.


A “lunch hour” Persian Cat Mother such as yours can fetch half again as much as the standard figurine – perhaps $60 versus $40. Congrats on a find that would be catnip to any CAS collector!


And with that salute to our CAS decorators, the ties of the “CAS Collectors Mailbag” are once again drawn tightly closed. If you have a CAS-related-question, please send it to the attention of Editor Don Johnson ( He’ll do his best to come up with the – hopefully correct – answer!





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