Men’s Jewellery

It seems a strange thing to divulge, but with all our grooming, care products and general pampering us men are becoming a little old fashioned. If we look back in time at the 17th and early 18th century male we find him pampering himself beyond belief.

Late 18th century men actually wore as much jewellery as women, but during the early 19th century, following the lead of the popular British dandy Beau Brummell, trends moved towards more simple clothing and minimal jewellery which was restricted to tie pins, cufflinks and rings.

The tie pin was a long decorative pin fastened to the necktie or cravat. The late 18th century examples are shorter than later ones with fairly simple designs, usually with paste or foil backed gemstones in closed settings. Later the Victorians enthusiasm for novelty was shown in tie pin designs with sporting and hunting motifs as well as patriotic and political emblems becoming popular.

Cufflinks were introduced in the early 19th century and were as popular amongst women as they were amongst men.The design trends generally followed those of the tiepins. The best quality cufflinks are thought to be those produced in the early 19th century, usually 15ct. or 18ct. gold with fine detailing. Later ones had their gold content reduced to 9ct. and were mass produced. In the late 19th century cufflinks were often sold in a sets with matching buttons and press studs.

The most popular rings worn by men were seal or signet rings, originally used for authenticating documents by impressing the seal in wax. Signet rings made before the late 19th century tended to be set with a semi-precious stone and carved with a Coat of Arms or monogram. After the late 19th century these rings became a much simpler 9ct. gold band engraved with a monogram and mass produced almost exclusively for the expanding middle class market.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Toy Soldiers

Last weekend, while Christmas shopping for our many grandchildren, I treated myself to an Airfix (other manufacturers are available) Supermarine Spitfire kit. This came complete with paints, brush, Poly cement and (hopefully) detailed instructions on construction. It is suitable for ages in excess of 8 years, which amply covers me, so I thought why should the grandchildren have all the fun.

As a boy I built many of these delightful models. I felt the glorious pull of nostalgia when I bought the model, which is exactly what our mature toy collecting customers feel when they attend our toy auctions. One thing that really pushes the nostalgia button is a toy soldier.

The first commercial toy soldiers were produced in the mid 18th century on the continent, especially in Germany. They were small, solid, flat and made of lead. By the beginning of the 19th century the lead soldier was becoming more rounded in figure and production was centred on France and Germany.

Throughout the 19th century demand increased and production spread, although still mainly in Europe. But all was soon to change. A very clever Englishman called William Britain developed the hollow cast lead soldier in the 1890s. This sparked what can only be described as a toy soldier revolution as all the continental models lost favour.

The battle of the toy soldier continued however up to World War Two, with Germany, France and Italy still producing this solid model and William Britain and his fellow British manufacturers producing their hollow cast version.

Production stopped during World War Two and when the War was over experiments began with plastic. Production of the lead models ceased in 1966, with legislation regarding the lead paint and strangely enough that is when collecting hollow cast lead soldiers started to become fashionable.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Rookwood Pottery

Arts and Crafts pottery became big business in America after inspiration from the European wares on show at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876 and Rookwood Potteries was where the finest examples of ‘Art Pottery’ were produced.

Rookwood was established in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1880 and from the very beginning focused on making high quality art pottery by employing the best designers and potters available. Artists such as Matt Daly, Grace Young and the Japanese ceramicist Kataro Shirayamadani worked for Rookwood as did Laura Fry who developed and patented the now famous ‘Standard’ clear glossy glaze and William P. McDonald and Matthew A. Daly who painted the highly collectable American Indian portraits.

It was the designs and quality of the decoration that secured Rookwood’s reputation of brilliance ahead of other American potteries such as Roseville, Weller and Lonhuda who were producing simple wares. Rookwood designs were largely inspired by the natural world, flowers in particular, although portraits were also used as decoration mainly the aforementioned Native Indians and the Old Masters. Rookwood was known for their subtly of tone, richness of colour and exquisite painting and these are all reasons why they are so highly desirable today. ‘Standard Brown’ ware was the first major line to come out of the pottery but huge success hit in 1894 with the release of Ariel Blue, Iris and Sea Green.

Most Rookwood pottery is signed by the artist with a date and shape number. From 1886 a RP flame mark monogram was used and each year from 1887 a flame was added to this monogram until by 1900 it had fourteen. Roman numerals were used from 1901.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Pot Lids

During breakfast recently my wife handed me her new jar of jam and asked me to open it. Nothing unusual in that it has been part of our married life for over forty years. What was so distressing was that for the first time in our long and glorious partnership I could not open the jar, eventually having to puncture the top with a fork to facilitate the manoeuvre.

I shall be writing to the manufacturer of my wife’s jam in the near future to protest at the new boundaries of tightness they have introduced, but in the meantime it has concentrated my mind on lids in general.

Before plastic and other packaging materials, toothpaste, creams, pastes etc. were sold in earthenware pots. Today the lids of these have become collector’s items. There are basically two kinds of pot lid, the black and white kind and the coloured kind. The black and white ones were first to be made because initially it was only possible to print a design in a single colour.

One of the most well-known pot makers was F & R Pratt. By the 1840s Pratt and a couple more potteries had managed to develop a technique for printing a design of more than one colour and were producing multi-coloured pot lids before the end of the decade.

Whilst initially pot lids carried information such as name of company, address and product, the coloured Pratt lids gradually became works of art in their own right.

Increasing production costs and competition from newly developed packaging materials meant coloured lids were forced out of production by the start of the 20th century. Because of the relative cheapness of the black and white lids they commanded a much larger market and therefore were around for quite a few years longer than their coloured counterparts.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

1930’s Carlton Ware

Carlton ware has for many years been one of the most popular English factories among collectors and furnishers and the 1930s to the 1960s is one of its most successful eras.

The Carlton Works was established in 1890 by James Frederick Wiltshaw and James Alcock Robinson. Based in Stoke-on-Trent, they became a highly successful and well-known manufacturer of earthenware and china. The company owed a lot of its success to their richly decorated lustre wares with Art Deco and Oriental influences but in the 1930s they branched out into something different with an emphasis on bold block colours and flower and leaf motifs.

The new designs used the floral and foliage themes either to help form the shape of the piece for example vases, bowls and trefoil dishes or as striking, embossed decoration on items such as teapots, jugs and toast racks. These new tableware ranges were hand-painted and continued in production until the 1960s. They are sometimes referred to as Salad Ware or either Floral or Fruit embossed Carlton Ware, but are easily recognizable by their eye-catching colours and bold decoration; particularly impressive when brought together as a group.

The colours used during this period were very bright and again held with the floral, natural themes including yellow, green and pink. Many different patterns were produced, particularly popular include Buttercup, Foxglove and Apple Blossom as well as Water lilies, Anemone and the Fruit Basket.

There were over fifty different patterns produced during the thirty years of production. Many patterns were made in more than one colour, like Buttercup, which is common in yellow but rare and desirable in pink. Some patterns, like Apple Blossom, had a huge range of items produced while others, like Daisy, were limited to just a handful of pieces.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Snow Domes

Last weekend my wife went into a garden centre. As I was with her I did too, although I was unsure of the reason or objective. We were immediately transported to December 24th, the displays for Christmas were everywhere and I have never seen so many snow domes.

Snow domes, or snow globes as we might know them, may conjure up images of cheap holiday souvenirs but they are in fact a popular collectable nowadays and date back further than you would think.

The first documented evidence of snow domes was by Charles Cole, American Deputy Secretary of the Commission of Glassworks, writing about the 1878 Paris Exhibition. Although it is believed that their origins lie with the development of solid glass paperweights in France in the mid-1800s, Cole makes no mention of this. The first ‘souvenir’ snow domes were made for the 1889 Paris Exposition, to commemorate the construction of the Eiffel Tower, with mini Eiffel Towers in them. After all, the real tower was originally supposed to be dismantled after the show. Unfortunately none survive today.

The 1940s saw a boom in popularity for this novelty when mass-produced plastic domes took over from the previously hand-made glass domes. Joseph Garaja patented the assembly of snow domes under water in 1927, aiding this boom.

The glass domes used various substances to achieve the ‘snow’, such as ground-up bone, ceramic dust, sand or ground rice. When the plastic dome came into production, the snow followed suit and was more often than not plastic too. The liquid in the both glass and plastic domes was water but often with an addictive such as glycol to encourage the ‘snow’ to fall more slowly and swirl around before settling.

Snow domes are not always circular with the oval becoming popular in the 1940s as it was found to be less likely to crack. Unusual shapes or examples with forms that surround the globe are popular as are those domes with internal moving or musical parts.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Halcyon Days

I have always found recalling happy events a much easier process than recalling sad ones and I am sure I’m not alone in that. For instance I can vividly remember receiving a Dinky AA van on my sister’s birthday to keep me quiet. I can remember purchasing my very first motor car, a grey Mini van. As my wife has a habit of occasionally glancing at my ramblings, l can say that I remember with joy every detail of my wedding day.

These days are often referred to as Halcyon days. Why? Well it’s all to do with a bird and Greek mythology. The story says that Aeolus, the ruler of the winds, had a daughter called Alcyone and she was married to Ceyx, the king of Thessaly. Ceyx was drowned at sea and overcome with grief Alcyone threw herself into the waves. But, she did not drown, instead she was transformed into a bird and carried to her husband by the wind.

As space and time are limited, that bird is the Halcyon bird who calms the waves and the wind giving peaceful days. Peaceful days are joyful days and joyful days are Halcyon days.

Founded in 1950 by Susan Benjamin, Halcyon Days was a small antiques shop in London specialising in enamel boxes. In 1970 Susan collaborated with Bilston and Battersea Enamels and in 1978 Halcyon Days was granted the Royal Warrant of Queen Elizabeth ll. In 1987 the Warrants of the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales followed.

The company has gone from strength to strength since those exciting early days, but it still produces the lovely enamel boxes favoured by the Royals. They are a subject all of there own and a joy to collect. We have a lovely little collection of Halcyon Days boxes in our next Collectors Auction.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Holmegaard Glass

The Holmegaard Glassworks, over the years, has produced some very collectable pieces of beautiful and inventive glass. It was established in 1825 in Denmark by Countess Henriette Danneskiold-Samsøe. Her husband Count Christian had initially sought permission from the King in 1823 to set up the Glassworks but unfortunately died before the decision to allow such a venture was granted. What a courageous woman the Countess was to carry on regardless.

Originally the Glassworks only produced green bottles but production quickly thrived and advanced and by the 1830s they were making clear and pressed glass bottles as well as tableware. Much of the Holmegaard’s early work is of little note, but the factory became a shining star in the 20th century. This transformation has much to do with the designers employed by the Glassworks including Jacob E Bang in the 1920s and later his son, Michael (how could he fail with such a name) in the 1980s as well as the great Per Lütken who was considered a pioneer designer and huge asset to Holmegaard Glass.

Per Lütken was a perfectionist and well known for making high demands on his glass blowers, never settling for second best. He began working for the company in 1941 and the quality of his designs became a benchmark for Holmegaard, securing their position as a leading Glassworks.

His early work in the 1940s and 50s focused on organic forms sometimes referred to as the plasticity of glass. The vases took inspiration from shapes like teardrops and flower buds and the majority of pieces were made in subtle colours like grey and pale blue known as smoke and aqua.

Later in the 1960s and 70s, he favoured the more robust, geometric designs, famously introducing the thicker, outward rims in his glasses in ranges such as No. 5 from 1970 and Ship’s Glass from 1971. Per Lütken worked for Holmegaard until his death in 1998. Many of these designs can be purchased in the saleroom today for under one hundred pounds.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Sulphide Paperweights

Paperweights have become a very collectable field and within that field are a multitude of different weights. Take for example the Sulphide weight.

A ‘Sulphide Paperweight’ refers to a paperweight which has a shaped “cameo” made from porcelain-like material encased within the clear glass. It involved cutting a hole in the hot glass sometimes through a bubble in blown glass, sliding in the insert which had been previously moulded, fired and left to cool and then resealing the glass or allowing the bubble to close by extracting the air through the blowpipe.

The technique of cameo incrustation or the encasement of porcelain medallions in glass was first developed in France in the early 19th century and it was used in America from 1814 and the United Kingdom from 1817. In 1819, English Glassmaker Apsley Pellatt (1791 – 1863) patented the technique, calling it “crystalo ceramie” in view of its French origins. The technique was not at first used in paperweights but was seen in glass plaques, pendants, vases and other decorative glass items before paperweight manufacturers realised the design appeal.

The three major paperweight manufacturers; Baccarat, Clichy and Saint Louis, all made sulphide paperweights. The value and appeal of these paperweights can depend on other factors besides the individual cameo, including the use of techniques such as detailed and elaborate faceting or engraving and the addition of millefiori (coloured glass rods shaped into patterns).

The objects cast inside the paperweights were most commonly people or animals sometimes both and the best with landscapes included. Many examples feature famous people or capture historical events with images sometimes cast off objects such as coins and medals. Generally, the more complex the design, the more desirable the paperweight as the process of moulding the objects was difficult and creating a single cast for one feature was the job of highly skilled craftsmen.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Meigh Pottery

Collectors are some of the most interesting people to talk to, partly because they love their subject and partly because they love talking. Some of the most interesting collectors are those with a very narrow field and a very deep knowledge. Recently I ran into a fascinating fellow who collected nothing but Meigh pottery jugs.

Meigh Pottery was run successfully by Charles Meigh from 1834 when he took over from his father, Job. Job Meigh worked out of Old Hall Pottery, Hanley, Staffordshire from 1805 producing high quality stoneware and earthenware. Charles continued this business.

The most popular and well known of Charles’ work were the white stoneware jugs with relief decoration. The decoration was primarily Gothic Revival motifs. The designs were actually formed as part of the mould before the pieces were cast. The ‘Minister’ jug was one of the key designs of the time sometimes referred to as ‘Minister Jug’ or ‘York Minister’ although the religious design has no known association with York Minister. Religious scenes in general were common in Meigh’s work as were scenes of sporting events and drinking activities. Larger examples are always more sought after by collectors realising higher prices.

Charles Meigh was greatly admired for the high quality of his designs and intricate moulded work with his factories acknowledged for casting crisp three-dimensional designs that few could rival at the time. Meigh exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and went on to win a medal in 1886.

Charles Meigh traded under many names from starting out in 1834 to the closure of the factory in 1902 and the marks used change accordingly. Up until 1849 there were various marks used but all incorporated his name or initials, when he entered into partnership in 1850 changing the company name to ‘Charles Meigh, Son & Pankhurst’ these initials, CMS & P, were included on the marks, later losing the ‘P’ in 1851 when he traded under simply ‘Charles Meigh & Son’. In 1861 the name changed again to ‘Old Hall Eartheware Co Ltd.’ and finally ‘Old Hall Porcelain Works Ltd.’ in 1886 until closure in 1902.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website