Staffordshire Figures

We all have our favourite things. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens have never been on my list, but custard on fruit pie and warm summer evenings certainly have. If I had to make a list of my favourite things it would be endless and up there near the top would be the early Staffordshire figure. What an absolute joy those figures are.

The production of Staffordshire figures began during the reign of George lll in about 1780. The early figures are much better quality than their Victorian cousins and so always command a much higher price. By the early Victorian period the figures were so popular that corners had to be cut and production techniques altered to increase output. Demand remained high until the end of the 19th century.

To produce a model a skilled designer sculpted an original. From this a mould was made and this would produce about 200 models. The older the mould the more worn the details on the model became and this affects the price paid by collectors today. Quality from one factory to another can differ greatly. The flatback figure (with no detailing or painting on the back) was the result of even further cutbacks.

Staffordshire figures provide a social history of the period. They cover every type of person from the notorious rogue to the Royal family, celebrities, fictional characters, military heroes, sportsmen, and politicians.

One of the most popular models were dogs and in particular the seated King Charles spaniel. No Victorian parlour was complete without a pair of these comforter dogs by the fire. They are mainly white with painted features and of varying sizes.

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

Victorian Jugs

In an attempt to keep healthy my wife and I have introduced water as one of our evening meal beverages. This requires a jug on the table and hence a little extra preparation. I am somewhat doubtful about the longevity of this new custom as the preparation seems to be falling upon me. It does however make me contemplate the jug as an artefact.

A few years before Victoria came to the throne moulded jugs had developed into an art form. Almost every potter of the time began producing them and on the whole all followed each other as the moulded jug developed and changed throughout the century.

The jugs of the 1830s were moulded in a crisp and deep relief. Apart from a few angular exceptions the body was generally round. In terms of decoration, this was a period when designs and inspirations seemed limitless. Hunting scenes were popular, as were religious, mythological, historical and even drinking themes. But inspiration was also found in books, poems and art. In fact almost every aspect of Victorian life.

By the latter part of the 1840s the earlier distinctive pedestal foot had become a foot rim and the lip was a little less flared. The body was still essentially round and the relief had become more shallow. The new trend in design was naturalistic plant life, with some jugs being completely covered, examples being the Cob of Corn jug and the Pine Cone jug.

By the 1860s the relief was very shallow and the naturalistic designs were replaced with stylised flowers and foliage. By the time, towards the end of the century, that the Art Nouveau style had arrived the moulded jug had largely had its day.

Made usually in earthenware, stoneware or Parian the moulded jug makes a lovely addition to any collection which is why they have always remained popular in the auction room.

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

Goss China

Carrying out chattels valuations sees me traveling all over the region and last Saturday I was in the beautiful Cathedral town of Ripon (where £2.00 sees you safely parked for 24 hours) to visit the property of an older lady who has now gone into a home. This lady loved her Goss china, but sadly she is in the minority these days. Could this be the time to invest?

William Henry Goss was chief designer at the Spode works in Stoke-on-Trent by the time he was twenty-five, but he was not happy and decided to branch out on his own.In the 1880’s, Williams son, Adolphus, joined the company. He was no potter, but he was an ideas man with a flare for marketing. His father had been producing specially commissioned commemorative pieces bearing heraldic emblems and he saw an opportunity to expand.

Adolphus realised that such wares would make great souvenirs for the mass market who, taking advantage of increased wages, were taking more holidays and day tripping on the growing railway network. He worked his way round the country over the next 20 years making contacts until he had a network of more than 1000 local agents. Each agent was responsible for promoting their local coats of arms which could be put on up to 600 small, mass produced named models. The local agents could ask for their symbols to be placed on just about anything.

Goss also produced a popular series of hand painted buildings, known as the Goss Cottages; examples included Shakespeare’s House and Robert Burns’ birthplace. However the heraldic crested wares still made up the bulk of the company’s sales. These wares became less popular after the First World War and in 1929 the Goss family sold out to a competitor Arcadian China.

Standards slowly fell and eventually the factory closed in 1944.

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

Hummel Figures

To the collector the value of their collection is often the last thing thing they are concerned about and I have often thought that an ideal subject for a new collector would be the charming Hummel figures of children. They can be acquired at reasonable cost and they are a vast and interesting subject.

These endearing figures were developed from drawings by a Franciscan nun Berta Hummel drawn for the Goebel Company in Bavaria. Introduced in 1935 Hummel’s figures were an instant success. By the time she died in 1946 she had drawn around 600 sketches, which was enough to keep the company producing Hummel figures for decades.

Hummels from the 1950s and 1960s are the cheapest on the market. Earlier pieces, groups and larger figures are more desired and so more expensive. The more recent or common a figure is, the more vital the condition becomes in determining value.

Many of the figures are made in more than one version. For example, “Weary Wanderer” was first produced in 1949 but has been made regularly ever since. The rather rare version with blue eyes is more valuable than all the others. Also “Puppy Love” which is one of the first models to be produced and therefore rare and valuable still has a rarer and even more collectable example which faces right instead of left.

Factory marks help in dating Hummels. During the 1930s the firm used a script “Goebel” mark under a crown. After 1950 a “V” mark with a small bee was used and from 1960 the bee became further stylised as a simple dot with triangular wings.

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

Tea Services

It is a sad fact, even in our retro loving world and even though a slight increase is perceptible, that a large percentage of tea services from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have limited value. The service which upsets many with its lack of value is the one with gilded outlines which is inscribed “genuine 22ct gold”. Sadly this cannot be scraped off and “weighed in” for scrap to give the service at least some value.

The gold used to decorate ceramics is always 22ct and it is applied by mixing and heating. One of the earliest forms was honey and gold, ground together and painted onto the article. When fired at a low temperature the result was thick and rich and could be tooled. By the 1770’s mercury gilding was taking over which led to a much thinner, more delicate result.

Had there been an enthusiastic health and safety department operating in the 18th century they would have been very busy investigating unexplained deaths of kiln workers resulting from the poisonous nature of the mercury used in the gilding process.

The other tea service which upsets people with its lack of value is the late Victorian printed and painted service. These have all been owned by a “great great” relative and are often complete,8 because they were rarely used. The reason they are worth so little is that every home had one and now few homes want one

With the resurgence of the “cup-cake” and an ever growing interest in baking and decorating cakes, cups, saucers and tea services are making a little bit of a comeback. Perhaps now is the time to start buying them again.

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

Eric Ravilious

I adore Christmas and New Year beyond measure, but I also adore getting back to work. I love the anticipation and excitement, wondering what I will see next, who I will meet next, what stories will there be to tell of 2020. In 2019 we sold a commemorative mug for the Coronation of King George VI in 1937. Coronation mugs usually make just a few pounds if we are lucky, but this one made £650. Why? Because it was designed for Wedgwood by Eric Ravilious.

Eric Ravilious was a very interesting man and his work is well worth collecting. He was born in 1903 and brought up in Sussex, where his parents ran an antiques shop. In 1919 he won a scholarship to Eastbourne School of Art and then in 1925 another scholarship to travel in Italy. I have never won a scholarship so am in awe of anyone who does, but anyone who wins two……

Returning from Italy with a glowing tan and a great deal more life experience Eric held his first exhibition of watercolour drawings in 1933 in London. He sold over 50%. His second exhibition at the same gallery in 1936 saw him sell 75%, an incredible success. During the 1930s Eric was staunchly anti fascist, so in addition to his own exhibitions, he lent work to the ‘Artists Against Fascism’ exhibition.

Eric was engaged as a war artist by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee in 1939 and between then and being lost in action in September 1942 he produced some of his best work. The body of Eric Ravilious was never recovered.

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

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