Cats are surrounded with superstition, black cats especially so. In ancient Egypt, cats were revered, the black ones being most omnipotent of all.
Mary Gregory Glass Mary Gregory Glass is a charming style of enamelled figure glass, popular in Victorian times and now being re-discovered. The distinctive feature of Mary Gregory Glass is the painted and enamelled scenes of Victorian children in silhouette, dressed in their best clothes, playing games and having fun. (see below for example Mary Gregory scenes). Pictured: Mary Gregory blue glass vase featuring etched boy and girl by a river. Sold for $455 (£375) on ebay.com January 2017. The commonest scenes are children holding of flowers, but there are many more lively occupations: fishing, catching butterflies, blowing bubbles, bowling a hoop, watering the garden, flying a kite, sailing a boat. The children can be found standing, sitting, running and lying flat on their stomachs. They climb trees, tend sheep, unkindly carry birds on strings and play a variety of games. However, the name Mary Gregory is misleading being both a designer and the generic name given to the style of glass from around 1850 to 1900, and from both Europe and America. Miss Mary Gregory (1856-1908) was an enameller, working in the 1870s and 1880s, decorating glass for the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company. Pictured: Mary Gregory cobalt blue pitcher and pair of glasses. The pitcher features a girl holding flower surrounded by ferns, and pair of glasses feature boy and girl facing each other and offering flowers. Sold for $174.95 (£143.67) on ebay.com January 2017. Ornamentation on European Bohemian coloured glass became popular during the mid-19th century. It was between 1850 and 1860 that child figures were first used in this kind of decoration, and with much delicacy and grace. White enamel was chiefly used and was laid on heavily and lightly, with skilful brush-work, to produce at best an almost stereoscopic effect. Pieces from this period include decanters, jugs, drinking glasses, bottles and boxes, vases, trays and many other useful and ornamental vessels which were made in a diversity of colours, and showing a variety of the children in differing scene, but with a marked kinship between them and a sameness in the treatment of their rustic settings. Pictured: 1800’s Mary Gregory emerald green pitcher. Original c1800’s Emerald Green water pitcher, with a handpainted white enamel scene. Ruffled rim, applied handle, and pontil mark on bottom. Sold for $465.00 (£371.60) on ebay.com December 2016. In a search for documentary evidence about the production of glass decorated with child figures the only reference to be found came from America, where the name Mary Gregory has become a generic name for all the glass within the Victorian age which is enamelled with figures of children. Carl W. Drepperd refers to it as such in ” The A.B.C. of Old Glass ” (1947) and Mrs. Ruth Webb Lee, in her ” Nineteenth Century Art Glass ” (1953), gives an account of her research into the person of Mary Gregory and a page of illustrations of Mary Gregory style glass from an American collection. So, by a strange stroke of fortune, this name has come to cover the somewhat earlier and the finer European child figure glass: the only known artist now stands in history for the earlier nameless ones. In descriptions of glass pieces will be Mary Gregory style, Mary Gregory manner, or in the manner of Mary Gregory for example. So, paradoxically, the finest examples of Mary Gregory glass are Bohemian from factories such as Hahn and Moser, and date from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards. The different kinds of Mary Gregory style vessels seem to have no end: in fact, almost any object made of glass could be so decorated. There is also diversity of colour of pieces. Red is much sought after, and is to be found in all shades from a rich ruby, through. cranberry to palest pink. The glass may be flashed or stained with copper red or even painted, and there are shaded reds developed with the use of gold. The cobalt and turquoise blues, and the viridian, apple and canary greens show much diversity, even to a shading from clear to canary glass which may have entailed the unusual use of silver. Amber Mary Gregory glass is to be found and, very occasionally, a fine, light amethyst. Sometimes high quality pieces of clear glass turn up, but more often the colourless pieces are debased examples. When the enameller has stretched his terms of reference to include coloured faces and hair and even clothes, this extravagance seems rudely to sever the decoration from the simple beauty of the glass design. Again, except for some of the earliest Bohemian pieces, this use of colour in decoration is usually only found on debased examples. Mary Gregory glass is still, from the collectors’ point of view, not too easy nor yet too difficult to find. Its painting gives it an aura of intimacy and it has a pliable decorative value which makes it at home in any environment. Mary Gregory Glass Scene Examples Mary Gregory Glass related Mary Gregory Glass Price Guide / Value Guide
Clarice Cliff is well known for her range of colourful pottery but she was also responsible for other items such as the Clarice Cliff Teddy Bear Bookends. The Teddy Bear bookends date from the 1930s and were sold in pairs and show a teddy bear sitting holding on to plinth with their legs in the air. The bears wear a ribbon collar and sport a fine bow. The bookends were produced in variations including differing colours of the bears, the ribbon & bows and most importantly the plinth. Patterns on plinths include Sunburst, Black Umbrella, and Blue W. A white bear and green bow are the most common set. Wedgwood re-issued the Clarice Cliff Teddy Bear bookends in a centenary limited edition of 150. The Bizarre bookends show the bears in the popular white form with green ribbon and bow. Clarice Cliff related A look at Clarice Cliff Clarice Cliff Cottage Bookends Clarice Cliff Bizarre Grotesque Masks by Ron Birks
The Cube Teapot was a combination of modern design, successful advertising and British innovation. This made the Patent Cube Teapot a revolution of its day. Now it is a rare and stylish collectable item that conjures up images of the times when “everything stopped for tea”. The Cube Teapot was a quest to find the “Perfect Teapot”, one that did not drip tea when poured and was easily stored away when not used without the worry of the spout being chipped. Many companies had tried to create this perfect item but rather than change the whole design they had just concentrated on one of the defects. It was only when the Cube Teapot came onto the market that the all the problems were solved. The entrepreneur Robert Crawford Johnson was responsible for the design of this revolutionary new teapot and registered “Cube Teapots Ltd” in 1917. He perfected the sought after design, one that did not drip, poured easily and was chip resistant, together with easy stacking for storage. With no spout or projecting handle the cube teapot looked exactly as it sounds – a cube. Even though it was registered in 1917 the first teapot was not actually put in to production until 1920 and it claimed to be the climax in teapot construction. The first company to produce this teapot in earthenware was “Arthur Wood” of Stoke-on-Trent. But by the mid twenties this company was not the only one to make the cube and there were variations on cubic designs by other companies who were not all producing under licence. As with any successful innovative idea there are always rivals and copies, and Johnson sought on different occasions to take legal advice although he was unable to take any actual action against his rivals. James Sadler and Sons as we know today are specialists in novelty teapot designs had produced many ranges of teapots such as the “Nesta” range which were popular with the restaurant trade as they stacked neatly on top of each other, another of their designs was the “Handy Hexagon” an almost identical design to Johnson’s cube. Johnson aware that the problem needed to be tackled decided that the only course of action was a strategic marketing plan. In 1925 he formed “CUBE Teapots Co., Ltd” and embarked on the marketing and distribution of the cube teapot and similar tea ware. Percy Aspinall was one of the directors and emphasised in his campaigns that the original article was far more appealing than any imitation. A huge marketing campaign was launched to help retailers sell the product, it included colourful showcards and booklets but the most exciting was a moving display in the window of the Leicester Showrooms of a lady perfectly pouring from the cube. This campaign was a huge success with anyone who is anyone wanting a cube teapot and the companies producing under licence increased to include big names such as Wedgwood & Co Ltd and T.G. Green & Co. Ltd. There had been a continual growth of tearooms in Britain, a place where ladies could acquire refreshment in a public place. Lyons Corner Houses are probably one of the most well known and the country’s largest and with such an expanding tea business the cube teapot was exactly what the industry had been waiting for. The Cube not just popular in cafes and restaurants became used at sea on the Transatlantic Ocean Liners. This is the epiphany of the twenties to me, drinking tea out of a teapot whilst cruising the oceans at a time where transatlantic travel was the only way to go! The Cunard Line was one of the companies using the tea ware although other vessels that were not Transatlantic Liners used it on board as well. Probably the biggest contract for the teapot was when Cunard wanted the Cube supplied on its greatest liner Queen Mary. Used by all from First Class downwards it was a daily occurrence to see people sipping their morning tea having been poured from the Cube Teapot. Because it was only the shape of the teapot that was patented potteries could decorate it how they pleased. There are many differently decorated pots, my favourite being the bold bright colours of T.G. Green but variations on decoration go from one extreme to the other. The most commonly found Cube teapots today are the simple plain white ones, or the Ivory Banded Cubes used on the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth which were supplied by Brain’s Foley China. Unusual decoration such as the “Shagreen” effect again by Foley or the Grimwades earthenware models are a lot harder to find on the secondary market, recently a plain Grimwades model sold for £40. As with all good things they have to come to an end and the demise of the Cube was in the early 1950s when other modern teapot designs became popular. I believe that the key to its success was definitely the high volume of self-promotion. It was also a modernist design at a time when change was accepted and welcomed with opened arms. I am always on the look out for affordable and unusual collectables and the Cube teapot definitely sits in that bracket. Although a good mint condition one is hard to find I think the hunt would certainly be worth the effort because image how you could impress any guest that might pop in on the off chance for afternoon tea! THE CUBE TEAPOT FACTS. DID YOU KNOW? · Minton’s supplied Cunard Liners Mauretania and Aquitania · Myott and S. Fielding & Co. Ltd supplied the QE2 · T.G. Green famously known today with collectors for Cornish Ware produced the Cube palette and cup. · Foley China Works supplied bone china Cube Teapots to both Queen Mary and QE2. · George Clews and Co. Ltd produced stoneware Cube sets for the state rooms on board Queen Mary. · It was said that the cube was the largest sale of any patent teapot […]
Bisque china dolls are those tranquil faced beauties we see featured on the Antiques Roadshow, with glass eyes, hand-painted features and, often, ‘double-jointed’ limbs.
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea a cult classic and we take a look at some of the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea collectibles, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea merchandise and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea toys that have appeared over the years. We also look at some auction results and some guide prices. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea first appeared as a film from 1961 that tells the story of the crew of the submarine Seaview as they battle against a giant sea monster. It later appeared as a cult classic TV series that aired in the 1960s (running from 1964-1968). The show followed the adventures of the crew of the submarine USS Seaview as they battled villains and explored the depths of the oceans. The Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea toys and merchandise that have been released over the years are highly sought after by collectors. Some of the most popular Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea collectibles include the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea action figures released by Mattel in 1964. These Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea toys are highly detailed and feature articulated limbs, making them a favorite among collectors. Over the years, there have been various Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea collectibles, toys and merchandise items produced. These include action figures, model kits, lunch boxes, t-shirts, comics and more. Other popular Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea collectibles include Irwin Allen’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea trading cards, which were released in 1964. These cards feature photos and information about the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea tv show and movie. These appear to be quite rare in sets and high graded cards are available for upwards of $10 each card. There were 66 cards in the set. A set of 66 in good condition is estimated at $350-$500. Some of the more popular Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea collectibles include the Mego action figures which were produced in the 1970s. These are highly sought after by collectors and can fetch high prices at auction. Gold Key created a series of 16 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea comics from 1964 to 1968. Gold Key Comics was known for their adaptions of popular television shows and movies, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was no exception. The comics were written by a variety of different writers and artists, giving each issue its own unique feel. The TV Series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is a 1960s American science fiction television series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea TV Series created and produced by Irwin Allen. The show starred Richard Basehart and David Hedison. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was originally broadcast on ABC from September 14, 1964, to March 31, 1968. During its run, it was one of the most popular shows on American television. It was cancelled after its fourth season due to low ratings. However, it remains a cult classic and has been syndicated in many countries since its original run. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was inspired by the success of Allen’s film The Lost World (1960). Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s premise is similar to that of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, however, rather than a submarine Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s protagonists use a state-of-the-art nuclear submarine, the Seaview, to investigate strange occurrences and fight evil forces. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was also notable for its time for being one of the first television series to be shot in color. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s theme song, “The Voyage”, was composed by Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s musical director, Leonard Rosenman. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s opening credits sequence featured footage from Allen’s film Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965). What to collect? If you are thinking of starting a Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea collection, then there are a few things you should consider. First of all, you need to decide what items you want to collect. There is a wide range of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea collectibles available, so it is important to narrow down your focus. Once you have decided on the type of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea collectibles you want to collect, you need to do some research. This will help you to find out what items are available and how much they are worth. Collecting Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea collectibles can be a fun and rewarding hobby. It is important to remember, however, that these items can be valuable investments. So, it is important to do your research before you start buying Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea collectibles. Related The Time Tunnel Collectibles
You see them every day. They fasten your shirt together, hold your pants up, and maybe make a fashion statement on your new sweater. Buttons! Almost everyone has some buttons stashed away in a box or jar. They can be plain and simple, or truly elegant works of art. Due to our natural hoarding instincts, buttons find their way into nooks and crannies in our homes. It is time for them to step up and take their rightful place as a popular collectible. History of Buttons Buttons have been in use for hundreds of years. In very early times, clothing was fastened with ties or pins, but gradually toggles and buttons as we know them came to be in use. Many ancient burials have included buttons or button-like objects. In the Early and Middle Bronze Age, large buttons were primarily used to fasten cloaks. By the 13th century, buttons were widely in use, mainly as decoration. As most clothing of that time period was closed with lacing or hooks, garments didn’t use buttons as methods of closing on a regular basis until the last half of the 16th century. Most of the buttons from this time period were small, but over the next century or so they became larger and very ornate, often using precious metals and jewels. During the 17th and 18th Century, most buttons were worn by men. By the 18th century, buttons were becoming larger, and had even more elaborate designs. Buttons continued to make a fashion statement and the button-making industry hit such a high standard that the period from 1830-1850 has become known as the Golden Age. As mass production techniques progressed, and new synthetic materials were developed, the general standard declined. From 1860 on, women have been the main consumers of “novelty” buttons. A button is officially an object that can be used to fasten garments, with either a shank (usually a loop) on the back used to sew the button to the clothing, or with holes in the center to allow thread to pass through the body of the button. Design of Buttons Buttons have been made from almost every material found in nature or created by man. Metals are one of the most popular materials, including everything from iron to gold. Another popular material used in button making is mother of pearl, or shell of any kind. Bone, ivory, cloth, glass, stone, cinnabar, horn, antler, leather, papiér maché, ceramic, celluloid, Bakelite, and wood, plus any combination of these, have been used to fashion these miniature works of art. One of the most interesting and misrepresented materials used in buttons is jet. This is a naturally occurring mineral, with a carbon base. It is lightweight and fragile, so surviving examples are very hard to come by. Queen Victoria started a fashion in 1861 by wearing black jet buttons to mourn the death of her husband Albert. Since jet was such a rare and expensive mineral, black glass came to be substituted by the rest of the population for their mourning attire. Consequently, black glass buttons are still very common today, but are often mislabeled as “jet” buttons. Adding to the confusion were a number of companies that made black glass buttons and marketed them as “French Jet.” One way to test whether that black button you found is jet or glass is by giving it the floating test. Glass buttons will sink to the bottom in a glass of water, but the lightweight jet buttons will float. Fashion of Buttons Throughout the years, the decorations on buttons have reflected both the fashion and passions of the time. Nearly everything has been pictured on a button. Animals are one of the most popular subjects, along with plant life and objects like belt buckles and hats. Some buttons are shaped like the item they portray, and are known as “realistics” for their realistic appearance. Others simply had the design engraved, stamped, painted or enameled on the surface of a conventionally shaped button. Many of the antique buttons feature very detailed paintings in miniature. A rare and very unusual type of button is called a “habitat.” These have a metal back, with a dome shaped glass cap. But what makes them special is what is UNDER the glass. These buttons include dried plant and animal material, usually arranged to create a natural looking scene. Sometimes whole insects were used. Because of their age, and lack of preservation techniques used in the past, these buttons are rarely seen, and often in poor condition. A good quality habitat button will often sell for several hundred dollars. People and their many activities is another popular subject. Architectural objects like buildings, bridges and monuments also decorated many buttons. Political candidates, opera stars, and fairy tales are richly represented, and are favorites with collectors. Some buttons even portray risqué subjects. Buttons produced for George Washington’s inauguration are some of the most sought-after buttons in the United States. Uniform buttons fall into a special category all their own. Most of us automatically think of the military when we think of uniforms, but there are an amazing variety of uniforms in our society. Both Police and Fire Departments have their own buttons, often with the name of the city stamped on the front. Bus lines, airlines, shipping lines, city or state employees, hotels, railroads, banks, and even schools have their own unique buttons. A related field is Livery buttons. These buttons were worn by servants in large households, usually in England, and had the family’s coat of arms or crest on it. There are many collectibles related to buttons. It is not unusual to find a button collector that also hunts out belt buckles, cuff links and studs, buttonhooks, netsuke, or bridle rosettes. These are another way to add variety to your collection. Passion One advantage button collecting has over many other collectibles is that many of them are very reasonably priced. They can range in price from a few cents for […]
Do you remember Cassy? Cassy was an innovative little doll who became popular in the early 1990s, manufactured by the Hornby company. A few years before, Hornby had enjoyed a huge success with their Flower Fairies – dainty dolls who inhabited their own small world – and obviously, they hoped to do the same with Cassy.She was released amidst a torrent of publicity in 1992; slim, petite and just seven-and-a-half inches tall. Cassy was available with assorted hair colours and styles – sometimes her hair was long and sleek, and sometimes it was worn in a thick mass of curls. On special occasions it was piled high on top of her head in a kind of beehive style. Her pretty face featured painted blue eyes which looked straight ahead, a tapered chin and pale lips. The back of her neck was marked ‘Hornby 1991’. Cassy’s facial expression varied, and the Hornby brochure declared ‘Her moods are reflected in many differing expressions, from broad smiles to that unique, pensive look.’ The doll was fully poseable with joints at the neck, shoulders, hips, knees and waist, enabling her to sit, bend, straddle a pony or assume graceful ballet positions. However, the most innovative thing about this little doll, and the reason for her name, Cassy, was her unusual packaging – she arrived inside a transparent cassette, similar to the kind of boxes used to hold video tapes. Alongside the doll were a brush and a stand as well as a colourful backing card printed with a room setting. It was also possible to purchase sets of furniture for the doll, packaged into cassettes. This furniture was well-made from plastic, and often featured light or sound. The cassette cases were not just a practical gimmick for shop display purposes – they could be clipped together to build up into a large play-set, a brilliant marketing ploy, as the more you bought, the bigger the house for your Cassy dolls! Each cassette measured ten inches tall by six inches wide, and was hinged, just like a normal video case. Bases and roofs were sold to make the cassette-houses more realistic. These bases were complete with decorative edging and fencing, and they ensured that the structure was firm. Pretty pink roofs provided the finishing touch. Everything was held together with plastic clips to make a sturdy and versatile structure. In addition to the small cassette packs, it was possible to buy large boxed sets such as a ballet studio, disco, house, riding school or, the ultimate, Cassy’s country home – it saved time to get them this way, rather than gradually buying the individual cassette units. These boxed sets contained additional features, including dolls in special costumes. The disco contained a dj’s console with flashing lights and a Cassy doll dressed in a metallic-look jacket over a purple catsuit, while the balle t studio pack came with a roof, base, and two cassettes containing a barre, a mirror and a Cassy wearing a delicate lilac tutu. The stable set was enormous fun, because the horse-trough was fitted with tiny red buttons, which, when pressed, enabled you to hear the horses walking, whinnying and huffing. It came with plenty of accessories such as tack, brushes, rosettes, and an all-important broom and rake to enable Cassy to muck out Stroller, her palomino horse. Without doubt, Cassy was a young lady from a wealthy family; her lifestyle was reflected in the lilac quilted satin draped bed, gold plated bath taps, and dining table set with ornate silver cutlery and candelabra. She had a fully-equipped kitchen which included a microwave oven. Buttons on the hob of her glass-fronted cooker pinged the microwave, or made the sound of food frying, while buttons on the fridge caused the phone to ring and the food processor to whirr. Her top-of -the-range country house was a huge double-gabled building, with two attics and a stable, featuring plenty of lights and sound. As with the other buildings, this could be purchased all in one go, or built up from the various cassette units, and the ingenious design meant that all the fittings, even the lights, could be repositioned. Everything folded down and clipped neatly inside its cassette, ensuring that small accessories were kept safe. Cassy’s clothes were superb, especially her evening dresses and disco outfits. Everything was well-detailed, and made from fine, colourful fabrics, often floaty chiffons, sparkly lurex or layers of net. Even the ballet tutus were trimmed with narrow satin ribbon, and their skirts were of finely pleated net over white, lilac, or turquoise leotards. Many of the outfits featured a novel characteristic – an unusual puff sleeve on the right arm, the left arm being bare. This could be seen in all the tutus, as well as in several dresses such as a full-length silver gown in the ‘Special Occasion’ range, with detachable pink and purple chiffon panels. A froth of chiffon was gathered on the right shoulder, while an unusual finishing touch was the narrow pink and mauve plait fastened across the top of Cassy’s head, to match the dress. Some of her most elegant outfits were the sheath-type fitted gowns which flared below the knee, and the lavish, silky ballgowns. When she went to the disco, Cassy opted for a gold lame mini with pink satin overskirt, a silver and black dotted jacket worn with a swirly cerise skirt, a gold and black shimmering dress with fitted bodice and full skirt or a blue handkerchief-pointed spot net dress with a navy bodice. A purple catsuit was included in with the disco studio. She adored colour – her casual clothes were in shades of orange, pink or purple, and of course, being the early nineties, she was the height of fashion in her pink and green shell suit! Outfits could also be bought separately, in blister packs, which often also contained a plastic easy-to-dress ‘mannequin’, which allowed the garment to be displayed if required. Packs of hats, shoes and […]
Barbara Millicent Roberts is fifty years old this year, yet she is looking younger and more glamorous than ever. How does she do it? It’s just not fair. This American icon, with her huge family of friends and relations, is famed world-wide and recently a megastore dedicated just to her opened in China. Blonde, beautiful, and above all, very pink, her wholesome image beams from toyshops, enticing even the youngest children to ‘want a Barbie’. Recently, a crowd of young upstart Bratz dolls tried to steal her thunder, and for a while they succeeded – but our heroine wasn’t having any of that. She took them to court and sued them. So, where did Barbie come from? Who dreamt her up? And why is she still so popular? Pictured right: 1959 Barbie Although this may sound a shocking thing to say about an international icon, Barbie’s origins are slightly salubrious, perhaps not as pure as she likes to make out. In the late 1950s, Ruth Handler, wife of Elliot Handler, a co-director of Mattel, was visiting Switzerland when she came across a kind of fantasy doll being sold in tobacconist shops. The dolls were sold to appeal to men, and were often used as mascots to adorn cars and trucks. They were based on a ‘good time girl’ who featured in a cartoon strip in ‘Bild’ newspaper, a German publication. The character’s name was Lilli. Today, collectors often refer to these very early figures as ‘Bild Lillis’. Ruth took back selection of the dolls to America, with the idea of producing a teen doll to appeal to girls. Mattel inspected the dolls, and from them created their own version, slightly less hard-faced and with less makeup. Ruth christened the doll Barbie, after her own daughter, and in 1959 launched her at the American toy fair. However, Barbie didn’t meet with much approval; the buyers for the stores demurred over introducing a glamour doll which had a voluptuous figure and pouting lips but which was intended for a young girl. Not wanting their new project to become a flop, Mattel screened a short black and white advertisement in the middle of a children’s television programme, which featured Barbie and her outfits. That was all it took – girls across America were hooked, suddenly they all wanted a Barbie doll of their own. In 1961 she acquired a boyfriend, Ken, and three years later, a younger sister, Skipper. Since then, many more additions to the Barbie family have been made. Pictured left: 1962 Barbie Pictured right: Barbie Can Can Even so, at first, not all the world was Barbie mad, and once Pedigree’s Sindy doll arrived in 1962, it was Sindy who was to dominate the teen doll market for almost twenty years. Even so, when Barbie finally did find her foothold over here, she was adored by thousands of girls, many of whom were won over by her high heels, curves and sophistication, as opposed to Sindy’s sweet girl-next-door look. The very early Barbies still had a rather ‘hard’ look, with red pouting lips, black lining around the eyes and arched brows, even though they had been toned-down. Barbie’s first outfit was that, now iconic, black and white striped swimsuit, teamed with high heels and gold earrings. Initially, the dolls weren’t sold in Britain, but in 1967 a Hobbies Annual supplement contained a section devoted to Barbie which stated, ‘America’s most popular (and certainly the most heavily advertised) range of fashion dolls, has recently been introduced into Europe with amazing success. Barbie, her MOD cousin Francie and her younger sister Skipper, are a range of beautifully made dolls with the most exclusive wardrobes yet seen. Barbie and Francie can wear each other’s clothes, so start with either doll and add-to as you go along. All models supplied with a pedestal stand’. Over the years, Mattel softened the Barbie doll features more and more, making her appealing to youngsters, and, certainly by the 1980s, she had become very popular in Britain. Toyshops soon had aisles of Barbie pink boxes, and Barbie demonstrated her versatility as she became a doctor, a vet, a dentist, an Olympic ice skater, a swimmer, a fashion model, a rock star and an astronaut. She also appeared with James Bond, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and in Star Trek – all in miniature, of course. Above all, though, Barbie became a fashion icon. In 1984 she celebrated her 25th anniversary, and appeared in a special ‘Crystal Barbie’ outfit, a doll which every small girl wanted. The long dress was made of a kind of pearlised fabric which shimmered in the light, and Crystal Barbie became one of the decade’s best selling Barbies. A decade later, ‘Totally Hair’ Barbie was released, the biggest-selling Barbie to date. She wore a multicoloured mini dress and her hair reached down to ankles, measuring 10.5 inches, the longest-haired Barbie ever. Pictured left: Barbie Totally Hair At the end of the 1990s, the ‘Generation Girl’ series of Barbie and friends was introduced, showing Barbie as we had never seen her before, with a street fashion look. Barbie’s face has altered a lot over the years; today, she has a much softer, gentler look than the original 1959 doll. She has also extended her family circle considerably, acquiring sisters Skipper, Stacie, Kelly, Krissy, Tutti and brother Todd, as well as a myriad of friends and relations. Cleverly, Mattel began to issue special collectors’ editions, and top-of-the range Barbies, some of which sell for two or three times the price of a standard Barbie doll, while others, wearing outfits created by top designers, can cost hundreds of pounds. These are in addition to the basic ‘pink-box’ dolls, the dolls intended for children. Nowadays, the Barbie collectors’ market is booming, with a huge variety of fashion, retro and themed dolls being issued, most of them destined never to be played with – or indeed, never removed from their packaging. Naturally, to celebrate her fiftieth anniversary there are […]
Masons Ironstone China The 19th Century saw a massive growth in the British pottery industry with the production of functional, durable and decorative ceramic tableware. The durable nature of the pottery being produced and the ability to use transfer-printing, meant that customers still wanting Oriental patterns could now have the patterns on a much more dense, and stronger “china”. Pictured: A Mason’s Ironstone Part Dinner Service Late 19th Century, Impressed And Black Printed Ironstone China Marks Each piece with a figural chinoiserie vignette within a paper scroll and oyster ground punctuated with floral sprays and cartouches of precious objects. The set comprised over 100 plates, platters, dishes etc. Sold for $50,400 at Christies, New York, 2006. Image Copyright Christies. The manufacturing process could also be scaled up and the production moved to large factories, the cost of items was reduced and a new market of aspiring middle classes could now afford household china for everday use. This move supplanted the more delicate Chinese style porcelain that was common at the time. One such material was ironstone – a hard, dense and durable, slightly transparent white earthenware. The first form of ironstone was thought to have been manufactured by William Turner around 1800 at the Lane End potteries at Longton, Stoke-on-Trent. A number of potters were experimenting and it was also known as semi-porcelain, opaque porcelain, English porcelain, stone china and new stone. Pictured: A William Mason blue and white dessert-plate and three Mason’s Ironstone dishes Circa 1820, the dishes with printed and impressed MASON’S PATENT IRONSTONE CHINA marks The dessert-plate printed with the ‘Furness Abbey’ pattern, within moulded arcading and broad borders of scrolling cartouches of landscapes divided by passion-flowers and convolvulus, the dishes of leaf-shaped form with double-scroll handle, printed with the ‘Blue Pheasant’ pattern (all with riveted repairs and slight chipping, and staining to first) The first 7½ in. (19 cm.) diam., the second 9 5/8 in. (24.4 cm.) wide (4). Sold for £688 at Christies, London, 2009. Image Copyright Christies. Ironstone was first patented in 1813 by Charles James Mason, the son of Miles Mason. The Mason’s were a family of potters and had been developing a number of potting techniques at their works at Lane Delph, Fenton. The patent was No. 3724 was for a process for the “Improvement of the Manufacture of English Porcelain’, IRONSTONE PATENT CHINA”. The initial patent was for 14 years and was not renewed. Other companies such as Davenport and Hicks, Meigh & Johnson started producing similar wares. Pictured: Eight Mason’s Ironstone Jugs Circa 1825-35, Black Printed Marks Of octagonal form and graduated in size, painted with Oriental figures within shaped cartouches on an iron-red tiled ground The tallest 7½ in. (19 cm.) high (8). Sold for £688 at Christies, London, 2009. Image Copyright Christies. At the time the patent was taken out the ownership of the company was transferred to Miles Mason’s two sons and became known as G. & C. Mason or G. & C. Mason & Co. Family members include Miles Mason, his sons William Mason and Charles James Mason, and George Miles Mason.The company enjoyed enormous early success and continued to introduce new wares and designs. However, a change in fortunes saw Charles James Mason declared bankrupt and the firm close in 1848. Charles James Mason started a new factory at the Dasiy Bank Pottery but he died in 1856. At that time all the Mason patterns and moulds passed to Francis Morley. Morley and the Ashworth family formed a partnership during the period 1858-60, at the Broad Street works in Hanley. In 1862 Morley retired and passed everything to Ashworth including the Mason patterns, copper plates, moulds and trade marks. The company was acquired in 1884 by John Shaw Goddard and remained in the Goddard family until 1973 when the firm joined the Wedgwood Group. Masons Ironstone Related Masons Ironstone at Auction The Mason Family of Potter MILES MASON Miles was born in December 1752 in the village of Dent, Yorkshire. By 1769 he had moved to Chigwell where he was a neighbour of the Farrar family. On 13th August 1782 he married Ruth Farrar at St. Gabriel’s, Fenchurch Street. He was aged 30 but she was only 16 years old. After the marriage Miles became tenant-in-chief of a fine house and other properties at Chigwell Row, Essex which had previously been let to his late father-in-law by the Lord of the Manor of Barringtons. Apparently he never lived there. On 8th September 1783 Miles became a Freeman of the Glass-sellers’ Company and took the Livery on 23 September 1784. He was the founder of the Mason company and was producing porcelain of a high quality from the early 1800’s. He started by taking over the business of selling imported china which had been started by Richard Farrar, his father-in-law, in London in about 1783. Much of the porcelain sold was of the shape and design of the very popular Chinese export market porcelain. At this time a producer of such wares was called a ‘chinaman’ – a producer of china. By September 1784 he had taken over the china business of Richard Garrett. In 1793 he moved with his family from Fenchurch Street to 41 Finsbury Square and it was at this time that he was master of a City Livery Company. In 1796 Miles had moved to 25 Queenhithe near Blackfriars and it was a this time that he became a partner in three different partnerships and was involved in the manufacturing and retail sides of the pottery trade. One partnership was with Thomas Wolfe of the Islington China Manufactory, Folly Lane, Liverpool, a manufacturer of earthenware, a second with James Green of Upper Thames Street, London, a wholesale pottery-dealing company and thirdly a partnership was formed with George Wolfe so that he could make eartherware at Lane Delph. In June 1800 he dissolved the partnership with Thomas Wolfe, due to the heavy duties that were imposed by the Government in 1799 on […]