I have noticed lately that in many ‘trendy’ coffee shops these days there are very few handles on the milk jugs. Being brought up on handled jugs and had the importance of the correct use of a handle drilled into me from a toddler, I find this trend rather disconcerting. Also, as an auctioneer and valuer there is nothing I love more than a good handle. Take Burleigh Ware handles for example.
The period of the 1930s and onwards is generally considered to be the golden era for Burleigh Ware. During this time the factory employed over 500 people and among them were some of the most highly skilled potters and artists available.
During this highly productive era Burleigh Ware expanded into the very recognisable brightly coloured tableware, which sold in vast quantities. Probably some of the best known of these pieces were the bright yellow jugs with sculptural handles in the form of animals and humans. The jugs were all hand painted so each one was slightly different, with the most attractive being the most sought after.
Designers Charles Wilkes and Ernest Bailey are credited with much of the design work on these iconic jugs. They made a huge variety of animals from parrots and kingfishers to butterflies and squirrels and even dragons.
All these jugs can be purchased for very reasonable sums at auction these days, with the animals being particularly affordable. The human characters tend to be more sought after with examples such as the rare guardsman and the sporting designs of the golfer and cricketer being particularly popular.
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
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