Dating staffordshire figures
Cows are too big, milkmaids too small, or vice versa; and exotic animals, such as giraffe or zebra, were often modelled with little or no accurate visual reference of what these exotic animals actually looked like. Human subjects range from poets to circus figures; children to farm labourers; and romantic lovers to royalty.
In addition to exotic animals, which also include lions and tigers, there are also wild and farmyard animals and domestic pets.
It is also a type of porcelain which was known as salt-glazed, or creamware porcelain, but these aren’t the only types produced there.
There is a noted porcelain company named Crown Staffordshire, and Staffordshire is a region that was, (and still is), home to many English porcelain makers.
And then there is also the small detail that it just happened to be the region where the first potteries started in the early 1700’s, and grew into an industry from that first seed or two.
English porcelain was a mix of several types of porcelain, and with the diversity of potteries and porcelain makers in Staffordshire it is no wonder that recognized Staffordshire pieces can be any one of many varieties.
Many of the mass-produced Victorian figures, and subsequent 20th-century examples (producers included the firm William Kent, Burslem, from 1870-1962), are less crisply moulded and have either "wishy washy" or garish colours in comparison to their Georgian forerunners.
My preference for the latter is also underpinned by their vernacular charm: the vivacity of their modelling and decoration is often accompanied by naiveties of form and scale.
It was Horne who, in the early Seventies, introduced me to what was to become one of my favourite collecting fields: early Staffordshire figures.
Before 1840, most Staffordshire figures were modelled "in the round", but during the Victorian era cheaper "flat-back" modelling became prevalent.
The back of a figure was left flat and undecorated on the grounds that, when displayed on a mantelshelf, it could not be seen.
In August 2012, a varied collection of good Staffordshire antique porcelain exceeded all expectations when it was sold at a Devon auction house.
The Staffordshire Pottery was predicted to sell for £70,000 but high demand pushed the hammer price to £107,000.
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It is also worth noting that while well-known makers of the early figures include Thomas Whieldon, Ralph Wood, and William and Felix Pratt, numerous small-scale makers are long lost to anonymity.