The brass basins, dishes and bowls created in Nuremberg, Bavaria in the 15th, 16th and 17th century are often referred to by collectors as ‘alms dishes’ hence the collective term Nuremberg Alms Dishes. Although Nuremberg was the leading centre for base metal production in Europe at the time, the manufacture of brass dishes were also made in Dinant and the surrounding area from Bouvingnes to Aachen, and up to the Netherlands. The Nuremberg brass dishes were exported all over Europe including England. During the period all metals were expensive even brass and the alms dishes produced, although functional, were often purchased by wealthy townspeople who would display decorative domestic objects to give the impression of wealth, style and status to guests. Brass dishes were a less expensive alternative to the silver and gold displayed in the European courts. The dishes were often embossed and decorated with secular and religious scenes including: Coats of Arms; scenes from the Bible such as the fall of man, the annunciation and The Spies of Canaan; inscriptions; scenes from Classical Mythology; stags, flying harts etc. Some dishes are inscribed with an ownership mark which shows that these objects were significant possessions. The dishes were embossed by hammering/beating the brass into a steel die. Other features were punched through. Inscriptions and lettering were often added but these were often meaningless. One of the reasons that Nuremberg became the main centre for the production was the strength of the local guilds. The Nuremberg Guilds Unlike other production centres which were governed by guilds, Nuremberg craftsmanship was governed by the Town Council. The council was made up members of the most powerful Nuremberg families who controlled the standard of craftsmanship within the town. The strictest professions were the trades bound by oath. Craftsmen had to take an oath to follow strict rules of production in order to be able to practice their trade. The Basin Beaters, who made brass dishes and bowls, became an oath bound trade in 1471. Rules included a restriction on the number of apprentices and journeymen each master could have and a regulation that apprentices must be citizens of Nuremberg. This helped to protect the town’s production and to ensure that no one craftsman became more powerful than the rest. (Source V&A) As the dishes went out of fashion at the end of the 17th century many found there way into the churches and were used as ‘alms dishes’. Nuremberg Alms Dishes Price Guide From looking at the recent auction prices there is enormous variation in the value of different Nuremberg dishes. Although some are four to five hundred years old, they were made in such numbers that many have survived and many in relatively good condition. Simpler designs range from £50 / $70 to £200 / $300. A dish featuring St George and the Dragon sold for £4,600 at Halls Auctioneers in 2012. A few more examples are pictured in this feature. Nuremberg Alms Dishes Reference Collections at V & A Nuremberg Basin at https://www.antiquemetalware.org.uk/
As with much of tobacciana the growth of decorative cigar cases relates to rise of smoking. The first use in this country of the word ” cigar” (or ” segar ” as it was often written and pronounced) is ascribed by the Oxford Dictionary to the year 1735. The date is curious when one considers the use of tobacco in its various forms during the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for the Georgian era was the golden age of snuff-taking the equipment for which lent itself admirably to the characteristic extravagance and ornamentation of the period. The studied code of mannerisms associated with the taking of snuff stems equally from eighteenth century etiquette. It must, therefore, be assumed that the cigar was introduced to England by a traveller from abroad, probably Spain. The making of cigars was practised in the West Indies at the time of Columbus’ voyage there in 1492, and had reached Spain by way of the Spanish colonies in South America. Cigar smoking remained an exclusively Spanish characteristic until the end of the eighteenth century, when a factory was opened at Hamburg in 1788; the habit spread rapidly through most of Europe, but was slow in reaching England, largely on account of a heavy duty on tobacco which had been instigated by James I nearly two hundred years before. This duty was considerably reduced in 1829, and cigar smoking rapidly became popular— except among the female members of Victorian society. Indeed, the novelty of smoking was such that Hints on Etiquette, published as late as 1834, roundly condemned the practice in these words :”If you are so unfortunate as to have contracted the low habit of smoking, be careful to practise it under certain restrictions; at least so long as you are desirous of being considered fit for civilised society.” By this time, however, cigar-smoking was firmly entrenched, at all events among the large proportion of the population who had no thought of being considered a part of ” civilised society.” Eighteen-fifteen was the year of change, for the unaccustomed state of peace produced by the victory at Waterloo in that year brought home a horde of soldiers who had spent many years in continuous service in Spain, where the cigar was a universal form of relaxation. The cigars smoked at this time were small, hard and strong. They were, in fact, what we should now call cheroots; the Havana cigar, fat and expensive, was a considerably later importation. As the habit of smoking rose, as it inevitably did, through the strata of society, smokers began to feel that carrying their cigars loose in their pocket was good neither for the cigars nor their clothes. In about 1840 there began to be produced a form of case which became popular among the middle-classes. This was made from two leaves of papier-mache, joined at the sides by means of leather gussets, usually with a separate internal case of thin leather or stiff paper. The vogue for papier-mâché was then at its height, although it had first been made in France before 1770. These cases would be of little interest to the collector but for the decorations which were usually applied to the outer leaves (and very occasionally to the inner case as well). A wide range of subject matter was used for the pictorial decorations on the cigar cases. As well as papier-mache, cigar cases were created in metal, silver, tortoiseshell, mother of pearl and wood. Related Tobacciana Tobacco Colleting
We recently featured the Clarice Cliff Teddy Bear Bookends and have been asked about the Clarice Cliff Cottage Bookends. These were created by Clarice Cliff when she was at the A. J. Wilkinson Ltd (one of the Shorter owned factories in Stoke-on-Trent). The bookends are brightly coloured, often with a bright red roof, and show the back and front of a house. They measure about 14cm high. The example Cottage pictured shows the cottage having a bright red roof and blue coloured windows at the front and yellow at the back. The simple use of colours makes a very effective piece. The side of the book present the cottage against a blue sky with clouds to top right and left. The picture below shows the two side views. Below is another example of the Clarice Cliff Cottage Bookends showing the variety of ways the piece can be painted. Clarice Cliff related A look at Clarice Cliff Clarice Cliff Teddy Bear Bookends Clarice Cliff Bizarre Grotesque Masks by Ron Birks
Imagine sitting down to enjoy a nice drink and whilst taking a sip you look down you are faced with a small frog in your mug. A nice surprise or maybe not! This was the idea behind the Frog Mug which were first produced around 1750 but became very popular during the first quarter of the 19th Century. One theory of how the frog mug came to be made was that a potter who had nearly completed some mugs, had left them to cool overnight. On his return he found a frog sitting at the bottom of one of them. He was so surprised and amused he decided to make a mug with a frog inside based on the idea. They proved so popular the frog mug was created. Most frog mugs feature a frog on the side or on the bottom, and occasionally on the rim. Some frogs have open mouth so when the drink was poured it would also go through the frog’s mouth. There are some examples of larger vessels having multiple frogs and even lizards as well. The earliest frog mugs date to around 1750 and are largely associated with the Sunderland potteries including Brunton & Company (afterwards Moore & C0) who were noted with early examples. One of the most noted potteries for the production of the frog mug was Dixon and Co. Although Sunderland and the north-east were the leading area for the frog mugs, they were also made in the Stafford potteries and the Leeds potteries. The frog mugs created in Sunderland pimarily feature the famous Sunderland lustreware with its pink lustre decorated with black transfer prints often with mottos, phrases and sayings. More popular designs include portrayals of the Wearmouth bridge, Ironbridge and the Crimea. As many of these mugs were used by sailors many had a strong nautical theme and featured sailing ships, the Sailor’s Farewell and the Sailor’s Return. The majority of antique frog mugs made in Sunderland can be bought from around £60 to £200. The main factors affecting price are rarer transfers & motifs and condition. The price of other examples is variable, with great variations in price – from £40 to £1,000. Example pieces and prices have been given in this feature. The frog mug is a quirky, attractive item with great historic interest, and collections can still be created for a modest investment.
Arthur Gredington was one of the leading animal modellers of the 20th Century, not only for Beswick but in the world of ceramics . He was responsible for the creation of nearly 400 models (well over 400 with pieces he collaborated on), some of which will probably be in your own or a relatives china cabinet. Arthur Noel Gredington (1903-1971) was born in 1903 and after studying at the Royal College, at the age of 32, he took a position in 1939 at Beswick as their first resident modeller. Prior to this modellers at Beswick were employed on a freelance basis. His first model was a Deer on Base (model no 696) which was produced in a natural, flambe and blue glazed editions. He was able to design any animal but his speciality was horses and dogs. The 1938 Epsom Derby winner Bois Roussell was the subject of Gredington’s first racehorse and breeders reproduction model for which Beswick were to become famous. Later racehorse models included the famous Arkle. Beswick often produced different colourways of models including Bois Roussell which as well as the original brown was also produced in grey. With variations and colourways the range of Gredington horse models available to collectors is over 200, whereas the actual number of actual designs created is around 70. Gredington’s realism and accuracy in his models made them very popular with collectors and his champion models were especially sought by the farming community. Gredington was also responsible for many comic and licensed designs. These include the Cat Orchestra and Courting Penguins in 1945, In 1948 Beswick secured the right to reproduce a range of 10 Beatrix Potter earthenware characters, the first of which was Jemima Puddle-Duck which was designed by Gredington. Other character included cartoon, storybook figures, character animals and even designs for Disney including the Seven Dwarfs. When Gredington retired in 1968 he left a legacy of creations which are still collected today. Arthur Gredingtona and Beswick related Beswick Girl on Jumping Horse No 939 Beswick Zimmy Lion Price and Value Guide
From Prim And Proper To Fun And Frolic – Dolls from 1900-1910 by Sue Brewer This was a strange decade; the first few years were overshadowed by the death of Queen Victoria. She died in 1901, after sixty-three years on the throne, and initially people found it hard to adjust to the thought of a king, Victoria`s son Bertie, who was proclaimed Edward VII. Naturally, Edward was no spring chicken, he was already sixty-one when his mother died, and, however fond he was of his mother, must have been waiting for this moment for decades. Although she was a reclusive old woman, her death plunged the whole world in shock, for Victoria had been greatly loved and admired; she was not just Queen of England, she was Empress to many far-flung lands. On the day of her funeral, it is said that even the prostitutes wore mourning (but presumably only for a short while!) Edward inherited a kingdom which had grown accustomed to a righteous, majestic, staid monarch (even if Victoria had, as rumours persisted, taken a lover in the shape of dour Scotsman John Brown), but he soon set about changing things. He liked to party, enjoyed his food, loved his drink and adored the ladies – and he didn`t let the fact he that was married get in the way. His long-suffering wife was the delightful, deaf Alexandra. The jolly, fun-loving king became immensely popular, and though his reign was brief, the first decade of the 1900s was very much stamped with his personality. It was a time of change, not only in attitude but in many spheres of development, not least, the doll world. By now, wax dolls which had been so common in the early and mid Victorian years were scarcely made, as manufactures realised the benefits of china, though makers such as Pierotti did continue the tradition for a couple more decades. This was really the era of the bisque doll. Bisque, an un-glazed form of porcelain, resembled human skin, and dolls became stunningly beautiful with large glass eyes, human hair or mohair wigs and delicate painting of lashes and lips. The German manufacturer Armand Marseille produced a doll which was to become a favourite for the next three decades – a pretty girl with the mould number 390 stamped on her neck. At first, she was issued with a body made from kid leather, later from wood or composition. As with many of the bisque dolls, the quality of the body seemed to deteriorate over the years, and later dolls often had more shapeless limbs as marketing became more and more intense. One of the reasons that the 390 girl became so popular was that Armand Marseille understood the importance of mass-marketing, and was able to flood the market with his dolls. By altering height, eye colour, head size, wig length and wig colour, the 390 doll could vary her appearance enormously. She must have been a very accessible doll at the time, certainly if the numbers of the dolls which are still around today are anything to go by. Naturally, there were many other German makers, such as Kammer & Reinhardt, Simon & Halbig, Heubach, Schoenau &Hoffmeister, and Kestner. In fact, the dolls poured from the factories, so causing the French manufacturers some concern. Eventually, companies such as Bru, Jumeau and several others banded together to form the Societe Francaise de Fabrication de Bebes et Jouets (S.F.B.J.) with the aim of increasing productivity, registering its trademark in 1905. The 1900s must have been exciting times; they were a time of invention and development. Perhaps the most important achievement was that by Wilbur and Orville Wright when, on the seventeenth of December 1903, they made the first ever controlled power flight. The brothers took turns in attempting to get their flimsy biplane off of the ground, finally succeeding in making four flights, the longest of which lasted for fifty-seven seconds. By doing so, they opened up the world – today, just over a hundred years later, we think nothing of twelve-hour flights, and man has even journeyed to the moon. Another innovation which changed our horizons was developed by Henry Ford. His 1908 Model T Ford, affectionately known as ‘Tin Lizzie’, was the first car to be produced in such quantity and at such an affordable price that it allowed motoring to be accessible to working-class people, not just the rich and affluent. Domestic life was made easier by the invention of the first electric washing machine, while the development of plastics, such as bakelite, would soon transform our lives. Young boys rushed to join the new Scout movement, formed by Baden-Powell in 1907, and three years later girls had their own organisation, the Girl Guides. In 1905 the Dean`s Rag Book Company was formed, as a subsidiary of a much older publishing company. Initially, the intention was to provide for ‘children who wear their food and eat their clothes’ according to the rag book`s originator! Soon, though, they were producing rag dolls as well, which at first were printed as sew-it-yourself calico panels called ‘Knock-About Toys’, and included a Geisha doll, Red Riding Hood and ‘Dolly and her wardrobe.’ However, it wasn’t long before Dean’s were making the dolls themselves. One of the earliest of the Dean`s dolls was a huge, 24 inch rag doll baby which could wear the clothes of a two-year old, but perhaps the most popular Dean`s rag dolls from the era were Betty Blue and Curly Locks. They also produced dressing-up clothes for boys and girls. Cloth dolls were manufactured by the Steiff company too, who nowadays are more famed for their teddy bears. Usually made from felt, these were often character dolls with glass eyes and stitched or painted mouths. One of the most famous cloth dolls of all time owes his origins to an early 1900s breakfast cereal – Sunny Jim, an old-fashioned gentleman, was a figure used to advertise Force wheat flakes. Later, from […]
With the forthcoming TCM Hollywood Cool auction at Bonhams and the sale of items associated with Happy Days and The Fonz (one of the most merchandised characters of the 1970s), we thought we would take a look at some of collectibles released over the years based on the Happy Days series and characters. Happy Days was an American sitcom television series portraying an idealistic vision of life in the 1950s and early 1960s Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Happy Days was created by by Garry Marshall and was one of the most successful of the 1970s running on the ABC network from January 15 1974 to July 19 1984. A total of 255 half-hour episodes were made spanning 11 seasons. Initially focused on the character Richie Cunningham played by Ron Howard, his family and friends and all their experiences it was a moderate ratings success but began to falter during its second season. The show took a change of direction and began emphasizing comedy and after spotlighting the previously minor character of Fonzie, a “cool” biker and high school dropout the show never looked back and became the number-one program in television in 1976–1977. The show was a hit internationally especially in the UK. The main cast included: Henry Winkler (Arthur ‘The Fonz’ Fonzarelli), Tom Bosley (Howard Cunningham), Marion Ross (Marion Cunningham), Ron Howard (Richie Cunningham), Erin Moran (Joanie Cunningham), Anson Williams (Warren ‘Potsie’ Weber), Donny Most (Ralph Malph) and Chachi (Scott Baio). The Fonz – Fonzie became one of the most merchandised characters of the 1970s Arthur Fonzarelli, a.k.a. The Fonz or Fonzie – Initially a minor character, he was a hugely popular breakout character and was made a series regular. Fonzarelli’s “Fonzie” nickname and comeback phrase, “Sit on it,” were created by the show’s producer, Bob Brunner. Known for being especially cool and for his catchphrases “(H)eyyyy!” and “Whoa!” His coolness gave him special powers, such as making machinery (such as Arnold’s jukebox and other vending machines, electric lights, and car engines) function by pounding on them with his fist, or getting the attention of girls by snapping his fingers. His parents abandoned him as a child and his grandmother raised him from the age of four. (Source: Wikipedia) The Mego Happy Days carded 8″ action figures also included Richie, Potsy and Ralph. Mego also released Fonzie’s Jalopy so the gang were able to drive around. Tuscany Studios created a chalkware The Fonz figure. We are not too sure on the likeness but it is a very rare and unusual item to have. More Happy Days Collectibles Funko released five Funko Pop! models in June 2021 which included: 1124 Fonzie, 1125 Richie, 1126 Arnold, 1127 Joanie and 1128 Chachi. Did you know? Happy Days spawned a number of spin-off TV series including Laverne & Shirley, Joanie Loves Chachi and Mork & Mindy. Related Mork and Mindy Collectibles
In the seventeenth century the Weald area of Kent gave rise to a simple form of pottery based on the red surface-clay found locally. The pottery became known as Wrotham Pottery. Although centred on the village of Wrotham, similar pottery wares were produced by a number of surrounding villages. The initial primitive nature of the pottery can be based on the lack or resources provided from the landscape. The Weald of the 17th Century was a combination of bare heathland and forests, with little farmland. Pictured: A Wrotham Slipware Initialled and dated TYG 1717 – Of globular form applied with twin double loop handle, sprigged with panels of flowers and fleur-de-lys and prunts, decorated with cream coloured slip on a brown ground, dated 1717, sprigged with a panel initialled PC 5½ in. (14 cm.) high. Sold at Christies for £5,000 ($7,955) on 3rd November 2011. Image Copyright Christies. The pottery was therefore simple and practical. It was not until the appearance of slipware that the pottery started to have decoration added. The growth of decorated housewares meant that there was a move to more ambitious objects and not just utilitarian wares. There is evidence that certain potters made objects to order. Pictured: A Wrotham Slipware Initialled Four-Handled Tyg Circa 1630, Initialled Il And Mc, Il Probably For John Livermore – Applied with double loop handles with trailing ropetwists below double bun knops, sprigged with initialled panels and flowerheads in cream on a dark brown ground impressed with scattered star ornament 5 5/8 in. (14.3 cm.) high. Sold at Christies for £6,000 ($9,456) on 3rd November 2011. Image Copyright Christies. The Wrotham Pottery was made by hand or wheel using the local coarse red clay, a lead-glaze was then applied before firing. Decoration was added in the form of lines of dots using slip. This was applied by tube and patterned by the potter. The pale yellow colour of this contrasted with the red and browns of the clay. Pictured: A Wrotham Slipware Initialled And Dated Four-Handled Tyg 1643, Perhaps Thomas Ifield – Of tapering cylindrical form, with double loop handles, applied with ropetwist and studs, sprigged with cream-coloured slip on pale-brown ground with a rectangular panel dated 1643 sprigged with an oak leaf, fleur-de-lys, goats and a mask among dot-ornament and raspberry prunts 5 5/8 in. (14.3 cm.) high. Sold at Christies for £7,250 ($11,535) on 3rd November 2011. Image Copyright Christies. Many of the potters left their initials on the slipware pads on the pieces. There is little known on the majority of potters but the research that has been carried out suggests strong family ties. Names such as Richardson, Hubble, Livermore and Ifield appear to be some of the most prominent potter families. Most of the surviving Wrotham Pottery pieces are now some 300- 350 years old and due to the fragile nature of the pieces only a hundred or so items are thought to exist. Fine examples can sell for many thousands of pounds.
Bjørn Wiinblad – Instantly recognisable, his style is very modern and personal with almost naively drawn, but immensely charming, characters, usually with happy round faces
January 1940 – Britain was at war with Germany. War had actually been declared in September of the previous year, but it was during the 1940s that the effects were to hit home, changing many people’s lives forever. Food rationing began on January 8th, with meat, sugar and butter the first foods to be affected, but as the war took hold more and more shortages became apparent. 1940 saw people restricted to 4oz bacon, 2 oz butter, 2 oz tea, a shilling’s worth of meat (a pork chop and a couple of sausages), 8 oz sugar, 2 oz jam and 1 oz of cheese. People were encouraged to ‘Dig For Victory’ by transforming their flower gardens into vegetable patches, and recipes appeared which used non-rationed products in so-called appetising dishes. Women were urged to ‘Make Do And Mend’ by unravelling woollens and re-knitting them, cutting-down adult garments for youngsters and transforming pillowcases and sheets into underwear. Parachute silk was sometimes obtainable, and in 1941 a Utility Mark, which looked like a pie with a slice taken out of it, appeared on products to indicate they passed government regulations regarding quality and restrictions. No unnecessary trims and embroidery were permitted, even on baby clothing. As items such as stockings became unavailable, young women resorted to staining their legs with gravy browning and getting a friend to draw a seam line down the back with an eyebrow pencil. They prayed that not only would the friend have a steady hand, they would not get caught in the rain. The British faced grim times – huddling in an air-raid shelter while bombs rained down was no joke – while London Underground stations were also pressed into service with many people spending their nights there, safe if uncomfortable. However, it wasn’t all gloom and doom, and a great cameraderie developed, especially amongst Londoners who bore much of the brunt of the onslaught. The younger people, especially, deemed it a great adventure, and would think nothing of racing along the streets while shrapnel rained down, dodging from one doorway to another. My mother and aunts seemed to be out dancing every night, partying with the soldiers on leave – perhaps a release from the horrors they witnessed and uncertainty they faced. No-one ever knew if their brother or boyfriend was going to be the next soldier killed, or if their family would be eradicated by a direct hit from a bomb on the house. In 1944 the terrifying Doodlebugs droned overhead; when the buzzing stopped, there was fifteen seconds to escape before they exploded. Many premises were taken over for munitions work, including doll factories such as Pedigree and Palitoy, and young women would be employed to make aircraft parts or guns; all women under sixty were required to undertake some form of war work. Sometimes, their skin turned yellow with the chemicals they came in contact with, and they were encouraged to use make-up to form a barrier on the skin. Headscarves became fashionable – they were a necessity in the factories to pro tect hair from machinery – as did wedge-heeled shoes with cork soles; leather was scarce, but the cork proved durable. Skirts were worn shorter as fabric was rationed, but hair was often kept long with plenty of curls, as women strove to retain their femininity. Thousands of ‘Land Girls’ worked on farms, and for the first time wore trousers, a freedom which women were reluctant to relinquish after the War. Of course, countless women joined the services and worked alongside their male counterparts in the war zones. Although Britons had to adapt to a more frugal way of life, they were still able to visit the cinema or theatre, and music played a vital part in keeping up morale. Dance halls throbbed to swing music; the American Glenn Miller band was a huge hit with numbers such as ‘In The Mood’, and a crazy dance called the Jitterbug literally swept girls off their feet. Forties’s films and shows included Oklahoma, Casablanca, Bambi, Dumbo, Pinocchio, Easter Parade, The Red Shoes and Brief Encounter. ‘Gone With the Wind’, released the year before, won eight Academy Awards in 1940. Radio programmes such as ‘ITMA’ and ‘Music While You Work’ kept the people in Britain entertained, while in Russia, Prokofiev’s stunning new ballet, ‘Romeo and Juliet’, was premiered. As so many factories had been requisitioned, dolls were not particularly easy to find, and those which were available tended to be of composition or pottery, often cheaply made and with homely faces. Nevertheless, these were the dolls which comforted children through the air-raids, and went with them when they were evacuated. Dolls were also made from cloth, or knitted from old garments, while Norah Wellings made mascot dolls, donating a percentage of the proceeds to servicemen’s organisations. After the War, plastics began to be used by toy companies, and by the late 1940s were becoming increasingly popular. Pioneering developments were made at this time by companies such as Palitoy, Rosebud, Roddy and Pedigree, while Mormit produced a innovative soft plastic doll with detachable limbs for easy drying. Although composition dolls were still manufactured, it was obvious that plastics was the medium which people wanted; these new dolls were lightweight, washable, virtually unbreakable, warmer to hold, and pretty, as the modelling was finer. Other developments included ‘Beauty Skin’, a kapok-filled rubbery plastic patented by Pedigree. After the war, people became a little resentful when goods and clothing were exported rather than being sold ‘off ration’. Christian Dior introduced his ‘New Look, with longer skirts, as there was now no need to conserve fabric, but in Britain, clothes and fabric were still rationed, and would be till the end of the decade. Britain in the late 1940s was feeling a bit jaded, and something new was needed. It came in the 1950s, with a new queen, a futuristic exhibition and a phenomenon known as a ‘teenager’.