Tops and Bottoms Gallery


PART 1–We imagine most Canton collectors and dealers have a Canton orphan top or bottom in their collections or businesses. Both for a collector or dealer, a complete form is both more pleasing and worth considerably more than the sum of its parts. Of course, it is not easy to match orphan tops and bottoms. Note: all forms here, are shown in greater detail in the All Forms Gallery.

This gallery divides all Canton tops into 6 shape categories: Quatrefoil (4 loop), Square, Octagonal, RectangleOval and Round. There are only a few forms in the first 5 shapes whereas there are many round tops. To help navigate the numerous round tops, we will further divide the round tops by knob shapes in that section. This gallery is the second largest gallery next to the All Forms Gallery.

1) To find which bottom your orphan top fits, first determine the top’s shape, then go to that shape section, look at the pictures and see which bottom it should be paired with.

2) If you have an orphan bottom, first determine what shape top would fit it, then go to that shape section, look at the pictures and determine which top it should be paired with.

PART 2–In addition to “Matching Tops and Bottoms”, here we have a section called “3 Piece Inserts”. Sometimes inserts are found individually or they might be missing and this section helps determine their correct placement.

PART 3–The “Strainers/Drainers” section has Canton pieces that often are orphaned or their platters are missing them.

PART 4–Is the “Stands” section. There are 7 Canton forms that are not complete without their particular stands. This is the last section to help you match orphan pieces with their mates and to make forms whole.


Quatrefoil Shape Tops

There is only one form, the two 3-piece Covered Vegetable Dishes shown below, that have quatrefoil shaped tops. The 2 tops’ dimensions are: 7 5/8″ x 9 3/8″ & 7 1/8″ x 9″    Note that there may be smaller or larger examples of this rare form. Below the 2 tops are shown the complete sets of the 2 covered vegetable dishes. They have “Pineapple” knobs.

Square Shape Tops 

There are only two square shaped tops in Canton World: on Censor Teapots and Square Canisters. Both are quite rare Canton forms. Censor teapots have very distinctive step like pyramid shaped knobs. Their size ranges from 2 1/8″-2 1/4″ square. Square canister tops range in size from 2 3/4″ to 7 1/4″+ square and they do not have knobs. The tops are slightly domed. You have to pick the tops up by the edges.



Octagonal Shape Tops

There are only two Canton forms that have octagonal tops: octagonal Hot Water Dishes and Soup and Gravy Tureens. They are relatively common Canton forms. The octagonal HWD on the left has a distinctive octagonal shape and a large mushroop shaped knob. Its size is 8 7/8″ from edge to edge and others vary very little in size.

In the middle and on the right are soup tureen and gravy tureen tops. The soup tureen top’s octagonal shape is not as distinctive as the gravy tureen’s. They measure 9 3/4″ x 12 1/4″ and 4 3/4″ x 6 3/4″ respectively. They both have “feather” knobs.

Rectagonal Shape Tops
There are 3 different rectangular tops on: Brush Boxes, Soap Dishes and Covered Vegetable Dishes. The first two pictures are a pair of rare Brush Box tops. They do not have knobs. Their sizes are: 4 1/8″ x 8″ and 3 5/8″ x 6 7/8″.


Next is a very rare rectangular 3 piece Soap Dish. The top’s dimensions are 3 3/4″ x 5″ and it has slightly rounded corners. The top has an unusual flat T knob. The knob’s top has 2 raised lines on it.


We now come to the common rectangular Covered Vegetable Dishes that come in many sizes all the way from: 7 1/8″ long to 11 3/8″ long. The top on the example shown below is 7″ x 8 3/8″. These tops have indented corners and they have Pineapple knobs.                              

Oval Shape Tops

We have found 5 oval top Canton forms: Bonbon Dishes, Covered Vegetable Dishes, Covered Hot Water Dishes, Twisted Handle Soup/Gravy Tureens, and 3-piece Twisted Handle Oval Covered Vegetable Dishes. Note that in this section, the term “oval” also covers what some might call “oblong”.

The first to be discussed is the rare small Bonbon Dish shown below. The top is 4 5/8″ x 5 3/8″ and this form has very little size variations. The top has a small berry knob which is quite hard to hold safely.



The next form is the oval Covered Vegetable Dish. These are very common and have a large range of sizes. The tops range from 4 1/4″ x 5 3/4″ to 6 3/4″ x 9 1/4″. All have the typical pineapple knob. Note that the tops are not perfectly oval but have many indentations that make it very hard for orphan tops and bottoms to fit into each other.

The 2 covered Hot Water Dishes shown below are usually found without their oval/oblong tops. Tops we have seen range from 7″ x 9 3/4″ to a large 10″ x 13″. These sizes are for the rare octagonal base forms shown below left. Note that the bottom of the first is octagonal in shape while the other’s is oval. The very large oval bottom set shown on the right is very rare and has a small inset edge which the 10 1/2″ x 13″ top fits into. The octagonal bottom HWDs do not have an inset edge so the tops slide around easily. Both tops have pineapple knobs. The largest knob has 5 holes in it so it may “breath” when heated.


These two Tureens below right have twisted handles, not boar’s head handles. The one on the left is a gravy tureen and the right one is a magnificient soup tureen. They have oval tops as shown in the small and large examples pictured together below left. Tops measurements: 4 3/4″ x 6 1/4″ and 8 1/2″ x 10 3/4″. They have mushroom shaped knobs with leaves radiating outward under the knobs. This form also has a medium size tureen. They are all quite rare.


This 3-piece oval Covered Vegetable Dish is very rare with all 3 pieces and twisted handles. The oval cover has 4 very small indents and its dimensions are: 6 3/8″ x 8 3/8″. The pineapple knob has 3 breathing holes.


Round Shape Tops

Because the category of round tops is a very large one we have decided to display/list them by the shape of their knobs. Each section will have a picture of a type of knob followed by the particular tops that have that knob. Some round tops do not have knobs, we will start with them first.


These mostly rare round Canton forms that do not have knobs on their round tops are: Canisters-Round & Barrel shaped, Dresser Jars (not pictured here-see in All Forms Gallery or Very Rare Gallery), Ginger Jars and Tea Caddies. Examples of each are shown below. Left to right: Barrel Canisters have beveled tops, they range in size from 1 3/8″ to 4 3/8″ in diameter; Round Canister tops have straight sides and range from 1 3/8″ to 4+” in diameter; the largest top is from a Ginger Jar–5 1/8″ diameter and it has a slight lip. They also come in smaller and larger sizes and are recognizable because of their grayer porcelain. The 4 small tops to the right are from the Tea Caddies. The first two are from square and hexagonal caddies and have small lips, the next one from another hexagonal has a slight raised rim and far right is an octagonal caddy top that is straight sided. The sizes are l-r:  2 3/8″ x 1 5/8″ high, 2″ x 1 5/8″ high, 2″ x 1 1/4″ high and 1 3/4″ X 7/8″ high. Note: the two middle Caddy tops are unglazed inside and fit over unglazed stems. Far left and far right tops are glazed inside and fit over glazed stems.

Loop or Hole Shaped Knobs   

This group of knobs on round tops is quite varied but have in common a hole (s) through the knobs. They are from these very rare Canton forms: Chamber Pots, Sweetmeat Stacks, Soap Dishes, Sugars and Covered Teacups. Left to right: the first two are from Chamber Pots, the first having a simple loop the second a triangular or stepped knob. The brass circle ring is from a Sweetmeat Stack of 4 dishes. The ring is bolted through a drilled hole and secured by a screw inside. It is believed this is original to these stacks. Next is a plain loop knob from the top of a 3 piece Soap Dish. Next to last is an unusual, flat top, one hole knob top for a Sugar Bowl. Lastly, a knob with 3 holes is on a top for a Tea Cup.

T Shaped Knob

There is only one Canton form that has a T shaped knob and that is an unusual Sugar Bowl.

Berry Shaped Knobs 

There are 5 different Canton forms that use the berry knob (sometimes called Strawberry knob) on round tops, see above. Below, left to right: Syllabubs then their close cousins the Mustard Pots, Twisted Handled Sugars, Drum Teapots and, Oyster Soup Bowls. The berries have multiple little dot projections that are white on a blue background. There are 3 leaves attached to the berry. Note that all 5 forms have twisted handles that indicate that they are early Canton pieces. The round ball knob replaced the berrys on later Canton as they were easier to make. Note the cutout on the Mustard Pot top.

Asterisk Knobs

We hardly knew what to call these knobs that have only appeared on the very rare Honey Pots and on one example of a curved spout, large Drum Teapot shown below. So, we christened them “Asterisk” knobs. The knob on the teapot top is a rounded blob with a cross decoration and 2 leaves and seems to be a late and poor copy of the berry knobs found on all the other drum teapots we have seen. We considered that this top might have been from some other piece but it fits perfectly. It is 2 3/4″ in diameter.

The two tops from the Honey Pots show again a poorly formed rounded blob with asterisk like decorations.  The tops are 3 7/8″ and 4″ in diameter.


Foo Dog Knobs 

There are 3 different rare Canton forms that use the Foo Dog on round tops, see above for one of the best examples we have ever scene of the Foo Dog. Below, left to right: Squat Cider Flagon, Tall Cider Flagon and  the very rare 3 piece Hot Water Dish. The well formed Foo Dogs on the two flagons are in contrast to the poorly formed dog on the HWD that was made in later times. It has its head turned and looks more like a puppy than a full grown dog. There are traces of gilt on the tall flagon, this is not unusual on the tall flagons.

Persimmon Knobs 

There is only one Canton form that uses what is called the Persimmon knob on round tops, see closeup above. That form is the majestic and highly desirable Lighthouse Teapots, both the straight and curved spout varieties. The Persimmons are roundish with an elongated tail and they have leaves like the berry knobs. The 3 leaves are attached to the Persimmon. The larger the teapot, the larger the top and the better formed are the Persimmons. The smaller top below shows a poorly formed Persimmon. Note that the teapots have twisted handles that indicate that they are early Canton pieces.

Mushroom Shaped Knobs–Part 1 

There are several different mushroom shaped knobs on round tops so we are dividing them into 2 sections and the two in this section below are quite different from each other. The knob on the left has a well done flower design and the one on the right looks like the berry knobs with their tiny white protusions but there are no leaves attached. The diameters are 8 1/8″ and 7 5/8″. In the last picture you wil see that they are a very rare chamber pot and a round hot water dish.

Mushroom Shaped Knobs–Part 2

The round tops below have flatened mushroom knobs on several different rare Canton forms. They are painted a solid blue unlike the examples in Part 1. Left to right, these tops belong to: a large single Sweetmeat Dish (8 1/2″ diameter, they come in several smaller sizes), 3-piece Soap Dish (5 1/4″, the largest soap dish we have seen), Covered Dish (top diameter 4 3/4″), and a Sugar Bowl (3 1/2″).

Acorn and Ball Shaped Knobs

This is the last section of round tops and it is difficult because there are many Canton forms that have knobs that are either acorn or ball shaped or something inbetween. These are mostly late 19th century and some of the ball knob pieces were made into the early 20th Century. In the first group below is an enlarged acorn knob and a group of 5 Canton forms with round tops with acorns. They are left to right with the tops’ diameters: Handleless Sugar Bowl (5 1/4″), Dome Top Butter Dish (5 3/4″), Pear Shape Sugar Bowl (3 3/8″), Ball Shape Sugar Bowl (2 1/4″), and a top from a Water Bottle (3 1/4″).

Next are ball shaped knobs, most blue painted and a few almost plain white. Below is a represetative sample on round tops. These are various teapots and sugar bowls.


Covered Butter Dishes

There are 2 varieties, the Octagonal and the 12 Sided Dishes shown below. In these rare varieties the center sections are virtually the same, the only difference is the shape of bottoms. In these butter dishes there is space under the slightly domed middle inserts for ice to keep the butter from melting. Note the hole pattern of the inserts are the same, 4 groups of 9 holes in square patterns with a larger center hole so a finger may lift out the insert. These holes are not drainage holes but are there to allow the cold air below to cool the butter. The diameters of the inserts shown on the left sides of the pictures are 5″ and 4 3/4″.

Hot Water Dish

There is only one 3 piece Hot Water Dish which is very rare. It has a Foo Dog knob and brass handles. There are no holes in this large 7 1/2″ diameter insert. The insert shown alone in the second picture has a great depth of 2 1/2″. This depth enables the hot water in the bottom section to surround the insert and thus keeping the food within the insert warm.

Soap Dishes

Soap dish inserts are deep to hold bar soaps and the holes are to drain off the watery soap after use. There are 3 Canton soap dish varieties and one has 2 significant size differences. The first  are 2 Round Soap Dishes with flat knob tops that differ in size and hole pattern. As you can see in the first 2 pictures below there is a difference in hole pattern only besides diameter sizes. The first dish’s insert is a large 6 1/2″ diameter and the hole pattern is 4 triangles-10 holes each, a center hole and 4 other holes.  The second picture shows an insert that has a 4 7/8″ diameter and a square hole pattern of 9 holes.

The third Round Soap Dish below has a loop knob on the top and an insert 5 1/4″ in diameter with a somewhat scattered hole pattern.
The last soap dish is Rectangular. The dimensions of the insert are 4 3/4″ wide x 6″ long. The hole pattern is 4 triangles with 10 holes each and 4 other holes.
Covered Vegetable Dishes
There are 2 varieties of the 3 piece Covered Vegetable Dishes.  In the first picture below, the quatrefoil shaped dish with twisted handles has a quatrefoil insert that is quite shallow, 1 1/2″. The insert has no holes and there is no decoration in the insert’s bottom. The insert’s dimensions are: 7 1/2″ wide x 9 3/8″ long.
The second variety has a more oval shape and the dish has square handles. The oval insert is quite deep, 2″. This insert has 4 holes in the rim and there is a house vignette in the insert’s bottom. The insert’s dimensions are: 8 1/4″ wide x 10 1/8″ long.
This is a relatively simple section as there are only 2 differently shaped Strainers. They are the oval strainer for meat platters and the elongated strainers for fish platters. The 2 types are readily identifiable below. The dimensions of the ones shown are: meat–9″ wide x 11 1/2″ long and fish–6 7/8″ wide x 15 3/4″ long. Both of these strainers and platters come in a range of sizes but the fish ones are much rarer. Note: these oval pierced plates are also known as “mazarines”.
Baskets, Reticulated & Solid Sided Fruit
All Baskets are oval in shape as well as their stands. Do not confuse round, retictulated, 8″ dessert plates with these stands. Basket stands come in various sizes as do the stands and the baskets mostly fit snugly on the stands.
The second picture shows the very rare, solid sided, oval basket with its 7 5/8″ wide x 8 3/4″ long stand.
Bonbon Dishes
Bobbon Dishes are rare and quite small and they also fit snugly on their stands. This oval dish has an oval stand that is 4 3/4″ wide x 5 1/2″ long.
These possibly unique pair of Cachepots have hexagonal stands. The footed stands are 6 3/4″ side to side and they are 1 3/4″ high.
Gravy Boats-Double Handled & Twisted Handled
These are 2 very different Gravy Boats, also called Sauce Boats, and their different stands. The first picture shows below 3 double handled boats with their 4 lobe stands. They are rare and the stands are 5 1/2″ wide x 8 1/2″ long.
The second picture has 3 Twisted Handled Boats with their leaf shaped stands. These stands are fairly common and they range in size from 5 1/8″-5 5/8″ wide x 7 1/8″-7 5/8″ long.
 Teapots-Dome Top
Dome Top Teapots, both squat or tall, have round stands that are thicker than same size plates to carry the weight of full teapots. There is a wide range of diameters for these round stands: 3 3/4″ to 7 7/8″. The smallest base diameter for dome top teapots we have seen is 3 1/4″ so, were these stands also used for some other purpose and maybe the largest sizes were used for other teapots, possibly lighthouse teapots? Three tall dome tops are shown below.
Tureens-Soup & Gravy 
The Octagonal Boar’s Head Tureens have octagonal stands. The first picture shows 2 soup tureens, large and medium size with their deep stands.  The stands’ sizes are: 11″ wide x 14″ long x 2 1/4″ high and 9 1/8″ wide x 11 3/8″ long x 1 5/8″ high.
The 2 Octagonal Gravy Tureens in the second picture also vary in size as do their stands. These stands are: 5 5/8″ wide x 7 1/2″ long x 1″ high and 5 1/4″ wide x 6 5/8″ long x 1″ high.
Not shown is the very rare/unique Scupltured Tureen with shell handles. Its stand is an unusual scalloped shape that matches the tureen’s shape. This tureen is pictured on page 222 of Herbert Schiffer’s 1975 book Chinese Export Porcelain.
This very small stand/plate (3 7/8″ diameter) is believed to have been used as a stand for syllabub cups but there are very few known. They also may have been used as cup plates. This stand is footed and has a full and well done decoration for its small size. The bottom is glazed.