Tea Caddies

Isn’t it funny how our habits change as we age. As a young man the only hot beverage I ever consumed was coffee, ‘stand your spoon up’ strong with a splash of milk. As I graduated into middle age, the coffee became a little weaker and a cup of tea was occasionally taken at breakfast time. As I progress further on life’s path, tea is pretty much the order of the day, ‘stand your spoon up’ strong with a splash of milk.

When tea was introduced into Europe in the 17th century it’s popularity rocketed, unheard of profits were made and tea caddies were born. The caddy was such a useful item as it could be kept in the drawing room under the beady eye of the mistress of the house and it could be locked.

Early imported tea was prohibitively expensive for all but the richest in the land, so early caddies were more often than not beautifully made and extremely expensive. The first examples were imported Chinese porcelain and styled like a ginger jar. They had a sliding top enabling tea to be poured in and a rounded cap facilitating easy measurement of a portion.

As tea drinking progressed through the 18th century it’s popularity increased and so did the tea caddies that kept it safe. Originally blue and white Chinese porcelain they were now to be found in wood, Sterling silver, brass and copper. By far the most commonly seen in the salerooms today are the wooden examples. These are a delight to collect, from the plain rectangular to the sumptuous casket. The slightly larger examples had three sections and were fitted with a central blending bowl to mix and blend.

As the 19th century progressed so the price of tea came down. This meant the lock on the caddy disappeared and gradually the tea went from the drawing room to the kitchen and the poor old caddy disappeared for ever.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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

Children’s Books

As a young father, many years ago, one of my greatest joys was reading bedtime stories. I actually loved most of the stories, but really, really loved the voices I invented for all the characters. I thought the children all loved the voices too, but, as with so many things in life, I was wrong, they did and still do, love the stories though.

I think loving the stories so much is why the children’s book is always so popular in the saleroom. They are timeless and nostalgic and collectors love them. There are only so many that sell for high prices though.

If you are lucky enough to possess a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone this is a valuable item. When Bloomsbury came to print it in 1997 they feared they would make a loss and the print run was very small. The perfect scenario for a marvellous investment, a rare book with a big future demand. Further print runs were needed for that book and so future Harry Potter books had enormous first print runs. The investment opportunity was never repeated.

From the modern to the Victorian. Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was first published by MacMillan in 1865 with illustrations from Punch cartoonist John Tenniel. Carroll’s classic is constantly inspiring illustrators to rework the story. Many collectors collect for illustrators and will follow the same story through its many different versions.

Book sales can be hugely influenced by a film version of the said book and this effect can feed into demand for first editions of related titles. For example Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and a signed first edition of the precursor to the trilogy, The Hobbit, breaking auction records

Those are just three examples which hopefully illustrate three different ways a book can have value.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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

Penny Toys

As grandchildren continue to be born and so the Dowse dynasty continues to expand, the wallet of the Patriarch no longer has time to grow a moth, never mind a colony, like it used to. Birthdays and Christmas are bad enough, but then there are all those other things…… If only we still had the penny toy.

Cheaply made from pressed tin and very easy to break, these small toys, measuring no longer than five inches, were affordable to all as they really were sold for just a penny by many street pedlars and market stalls who still made a good profit on them.

Penny toys were in production from the 1860s but peaked in popularity around 1900, largely due to the process of transfer colour lithography that was widely available by 1890. It enabled fine detail and colour to be added to sheets of tinplate very quickly and economically making the toys very bright, exciting and desirable to children.

Many of the Penny toys were produced by well-known toy manufacturers and largely in Germany. German-based Distler, for example, started off as a penny tinplate toy manufacturer before expanding its range.

Penny toys were very small and that actually made them quite difficult for children to play with, especially where the toy involved a tiny detachable piece, like a0 driver, which was tricky to take in and out of a car. Vehicles were a dominant subject matter for Penny toys; they would all move, some needed pushing while the more sought after were fitted with a flywheel allowing them to propel themselves. Penny toys were quite often tiny replicas of larger, more expensive tinplate toys on sale at the time.

There is a good collectors’ market for Penny toys, with very good or mint condition being the most important element in value, closely followed by rarity. Early examples tend to be more popular as the quality of production did decline over time as demand grew. Fine lithography and interesting or intricate designs are also keenly collected.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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

Costume Jewellery

I’ve always been a cup half full sort of chap. Occasionally during my many years on this planet, my cup may have dribbled just below it’s half way point, but usually it can be found languishing between halfway and full. This week however it is overflowing. Easter is here, summertime is here, a hot spell is round the corner, half the adults in the country have been vaccinated and very soon we will be able to socialise once again. Let’s dress up and have some fun, everyone put on your costume jewellery.

Costume jewellery made from non precious materials is often more evocative of its age than precious jewels. Worn since antiquity when the Romans excelled at glass imitation gemstones, this “secondary” jewellery exhibits impeccable craftsmanship and clever use of strong period style at relatively low cost. Costume jewellery sold now usually dates from the late 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and is by and large British or European.

Jewellery set with cut and polished lead glass in imitation of gemstones was first created in France in the 1730s by the jeweller Georges Frederic Stress. This paste jewellery was often cut and backed with foil to give colour and depth and then set in silver in dish like coilet settings. These jewels were popular in France and Britain and in Spain they were even worn in court.

Paste jewellery is very collectable and reasonably priced, although Georgian paste is considerably more valuable than the mid to late Victorian examples and will always realise higher prices, especially the earrings.

Pinchbeck, which is an alloy of copper and zinc, was invented around 1720 by the English watchmaker, Christopher Pinchbeck, as a substitute for gold. It was the perfect partner for paste, as it could be intricately chased, engraved and coloured just like fashionable gold work. Popular designs included wide mesh bracelets, muff chains and hair ornaments. Other imitations exist but genuine Pinchbeck is characterised by its rich burnished colour and matt surface.

Later 19th century gilt metal, often erroneously called Pinchbeck, was ideal for less expensive versions of fashionably extravagant jewellery, lockets, bracelets and brooches.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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

Dinky ‘Hovis’ Delivery Van

When Covid is a little more under control and we can once again have great big family gatherings and one family decides to play guess the advert, how quickly would they guess from the words “a cobbled hill” and “a boy with a bike”? Pretty quickly I would say. Now I can take or leave the Hovis bread loaf, to me it tastes much the same as the next loaf, but the Hovis Boy with a Bike advert is one of my all time favourites.

Those days between the wars are perfectly remembered in forty seconds of commercial television and during the time the advert is portraying, Dinky were producing a series of delivery vans for the delivery boy to dream of driving.

The series I refer to is Series 28 and it was produced between 1935 and 1936 with letters after the number corresponding to the advertising logo on the van side. One such van had a Hovis logo on its side. That was van 28x.

The problem with cars and vans produced by Dinky between the wars is not only that they have had over eighty years of sticky fingers and sandpits, but also that a great many of them suffered from metal fatigue. Briefly this is the inclusion in the metal mixture of impure alloys and it led to corrosion, cracking and crumbling of the vehicles. This was particularly common between 1938 and 1941, but for some reason also badly affected Series 28.

Taking all that into account it is no wonder, therefore, that our toy specialist John Morgan was very excited at the prospect of selling a series 28 ‘Hovis’ delivery van, with only slight fatigue. John is very easily excited, as I expect most toy specialists are, but when it exceeded the top estimate of £250 to sell for £806, including buyers premium, he was, as the dictionary defines, in a heightened state of energy. Collectors just love rarity and nostalgia, even with a bit of crumbling.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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

Duesbury Derby

When John Noakes was a presenter on Blue Peter it was one of the finest periods in the history of Blue Peter. When Jaguar produced the E-type Jaguar it was one of the finest periods in their history and when Kellogg’s Rice Krispies first snapped, crackled and popped onto the shop shelves in 1928 many said it was the best period for the Kellogg company.

Every company has its finest period and the same can be said for the Derby Porcelain Factory.It all began in 1786 when William Duesbury the younger succeeded his father and steered the factory through its best and most significant period. The young William was a multi talented man. He possessed a wonderful eye and an enviable appreciation of the artistic, but almost as important were his very effective managerial skills. Production was aimed at only the wealthiest customers with every piece finished to the very highest standard.

Derby specialised in cabinet wares, particularly cups and saucers or cabaret sets (too expensive to use and produced simply to be admired). Derby’s glaze was creamy white and very soft, producing a delightful and subtle feeling, unlike other English porcelain. Consequently the demand for Derby of this period today is higher than many other porcelains.

The decoration in panels or reserves was created by some superb artists including Zachariah Boreman and Thomas Hill focused on landscapes, Richard Askew famous for figures and William Billingsley, the greatest of all English flower painters. Derby rediscovered the charm of botanical designs and flower prints were also copied onto dessert services.

Sadly William Duesbury died far too soon, at only 34, but he left a factory which had become one of the finest in Europe.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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

Royal Worcester Animals

There is something just a tiny bit unsettling about walking through a field of cows. Recently, on a hike through the glorious Derbyshire countryside my wife and I found ourselves in just such a field, with the said cows approaching us at what can only be described as a fast gallop. Without hesitation or consultation we both struck up our own gallops and bounded for the safety of the style exit.

The whole exciting experience with our cows meant that the rest of the walk was taken up by me regaling my wife on the wonderful Worcester animal figures championed by Kerr and Binns.

In 1851 W. H. Kerr and R. W. Binns purchased the Worcester company, which had been producing some of the most wonderful wares since the mid 18th century and started a new era in it’s history. The new owners introduced a new material, Parian, into the manufacture of Worcester porcelain. This material was long lasting, more easily coloured and gilded and most importantly very adaptable to produce the detailed modelling that Worcester is valued for in salerooms today.

This naturally led to an expansion in the production and consequently the demand for figurines which up until then had not been a primary element of Worcester sales. They began trading as Worcester Royal Porcelain Company Ltd. in 1862 and employed trained sculptors rather than factory workers to do their modelling.

Royal Worcester Animals are still very popular today. Collectors often collect in series including British Birds, Prized Cattle and Tropical Fish or more exclusive examples such as Netsuke Animals. Alternatively the more devoted collector may collect works by a particular modeller including James Alder, David Fryer or Dorothy Doughty who was most famous for her Bird collections.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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

Rings

“Popped the question” is a strange expression, but one in very common use. It is many years since I popped my question and because of my devilish good looks, debonair persona and ownership of a mini van, the answer was always going to be yes. My future father-in-law’s answer was never quite so certain though as he never really liked my mini van. I gave the future Mrs Dowse my great grandmother’s engagement ring, which she treasures, but it means therefore that with the exception of her wedding ring I have never actually bought a ring for my wife.

Rings have been worn since ancient Egyptian times. Signet rings engraved with a personal seal are associated with power and status, while plain gold wedding rings are tokens of betrothal. Wedding rings have been given or exchanged since Roman times and from the 16th century it has been customary to use a plain gold band.

Before the discovery of large deposits of gold in the USA in the 1840s and diamonds in South Africa in the 1870s, jewellery that was no longer fashionable was often dismantled, melted and the stones refashioned to follow changing tastes. This makes rings before 1800 reasonably rare.

In the early 19th century half hoop and cluster rings were introduced and they remained fashionable throughout the century. Snakes, symbolising wisdom and eternity, were a particularly common motif in the mid 19th century, especially after Prince Albert presented Queen Victoria with an emerald set snake engagement ring in 1839. Serpent rings consist of one, two, or three bands with single or double serpent heads, often set with diamond or ruby eyes.

New patterns introduced in the 1890s reflected the late Victorian and Edwardian revival of interest in 18th century court styles and jewellery of this period is characterised by the use of delicate settings.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering 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 Crested Ware

As I drive across this wonderful county of ours in search of the Antique, I listen to all sorts of things in my car. Spotify, library books on line, a somewhat selective approach to radio two, local radio, radio four and radio four extra, to name but a few. Last week I happened to be listening to a program about successful entrepreneurs who have made it very big. It seemed to me that each had a very good starting idea and were in the right place at the right time, but they all had something else. To use an unfortunate phrase, they had an ‘X’ factor.

In the world of the Antique, one such man was Adolphus Goss. Well, Adolphus, bless him, made the most of the late Victorians and their sudden love for seaside travel. He gave them all something to buy and take home from their seaside excursions. He gave them crested ware.

W. H. Goss & Co first produced crested ware in 1888 from their “Falcon Works” pottery in Stoke-on-Trent. A typical piece of Goss crested ware had a white, creamy glaze and a coloured transfer of a Coat of Arms. A genuine Goss has a printed mark, featuring an image of a falcon above the name “W. H. GOSS.” Hundreds of different pieces were made from traditional vases to top hats, clogs and tiny kettles.

The success of their heraldic china souvenir business was huge, with large scale production needed to meet high demand. It is believed that by 1910, approximately 90% of homes had a piece of Goss crested ware adorning their mantelpiece or sideboard. Adolphus Goss built up a huge network of Goss agents across the country to market and sell their crested ware. It began with the up- and-coming seaside resorts, but very quickly every town and city had its arms produced on Goss china ready for the tourist trade.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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

Pelham Puppets

My mother was a lovely lady, but she was also a very strict disciplinarian, especially in my early years. It was therefore somewhat out of character for her when on my sister’s eighth birthday she bought me a present to unwrap. I learned years later that it was to keep me quiet. I must have been a very naughty boy.

That year I was six and it was the only time I ever received a present when it wasn’t my birthday. Perhaps six was my rebel year and it was kept in check with a Pelham puppet. That was my present. I still have the puppet, but a rebel child would never keep the box, which was bright yellow as were all the boxes after 1955. The puppet was the Clown, one of the more common examples produced by Bob Pelham and his happy band. It’s a good job I didn’t realise at the time that it was a common puppet or I may have had a little tantrum, defeating the object of the gift.

The Pelham Puppet story is a lovely one and to put it into just a few paragraphs is impossible. It began as Wonky Toys in 1947. Called Wonky because during the war Bob Pelham made donkey models from strung wooden beads which led to his nickname ‘Wonky Donkey Officer’. Originally the firm made simply strung wooden toys. However, a threatened court case from another toy manufacturer claiming the manufacturing rights to the toys Bob was producing led to a change of name and direction and Pelham Puppets was born. The company began with just four employees and ended with a factory full of loyal passionate workers, until it closed in 1986.

Collectors today categorise the puppets by the type of head that sits on it’s boney wooden body. Some of the puppets are very common like the clown I received on my sister’s eighth birthday and these are relatively cheap to buy. Others which are much rarer like the Bookworm family, can be worth many hundreds of pounds each.

As always condition and boxes play a vital role in determining the value of a puppet along with rarity. Nothing is ever more exciting to an auctioneer than two determined collectors perusing one rare puppet that neither of them currently own. Pure joy.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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