What’s it Worth – Free Antiques & Collectables Price Guide
Free Antiques & Collectables Price Guide
Free Antiques & Collectables Price Guide
The Chessell Pottery was founded in 1978 by Sheila and John Francis in the pretty village of Chessell on the Isle of Wight.
No porcelain has been more misunderstood than that made at the New Hall factory at Shelton. It is by no means scarce, but very obvious specimens of it (on the present knowledge of its characteristics) are still sometimes ” identified ” as Lowestoft, Torksey, Wirksworth, ” cottage Bristol,” or conveniently as one of the several porcelains whose existence in notable quantities is open to doubt. Alternatively, such a porce lain as that which was made by Miles Mason, when unmarked, is often called ” New Hall,” with some excuse so far as the later ” bone paste ” of the latter factory is concerned. Just as Liverpool was once the repository, as it were, of doubtful mid eighteenth century pieces, so is New Hall, all too often, of similarly puzzling ones of the early nineteenth. Pictured right: An English Porcelain Lavendar Ground Part Tea And Coffee Service, Iron-Red Painted Mark For New Hall, First Half 19th Century. Sold for $1,375 at Christies, New York, April 2014. Image Copyright Christies. The beginnings of true New Hall porcelain were prompted by the early nineteenth century policy of the Staffordshire industry of supplying to working folk the kind of ware which had formerly been made only for the wealthy and the middle classes. The Potteries had always concentrated on the making of fine earthenware, the only eighteenth century porcelain maker of note being Littler of Longton Hall. So when Champion’s patent for making hard paste ” was apparently purchased in 1781 by a company of five Staffordshire potters, something quite new was set afoot. Available evidence seems to show that production was first at Tunstall, but that a year later, owing to dispute between the partners, a move was made to the Shelton works of Hollins, War burton, & Co. The next important date is about 1801, when John Daniel joined the company. It was soon after then that the making of ” bone china,” the standard ware of the Potteries, began. It is impossible to set hard and fast dates for a sudden change over from the old Bristol paste to the new (both 1810 and 1812 have been suggested) and it is more reasonable, and probably more accurate, to suppose that both were made side by side until about 1815, after which year the bone paste only was used until the closure between 1825 and about 1830. Certainly there is reference in an 1812 catalogue to ” real china.” Picture left: An English Porcelain Assembled Transfer-Printed And Enriched Part Tea Service In The ‘Lady In The Window Pattern’, New Hall, Pattern No. 425, Circa 1820. Sold for $500 at Christies, New York, January 2009. Image Copyright Christies. How can this ” real china ” be identified? Despite the fact that Champion’s patent had been bought the New Hall ware made under it is not of such good quality as fine Bristol, being more like the ” export ” Chinese as typified by “Chinese Lowestoft.” There is a similar greyness in the New Hall paste, though less pronounced, and it is seldom disfigured by the ” pits ” and firecracks that so often detract from the Oriental. Whereas the thin Chinese glaze is commonly minutely pitted, that of the English factory is uniformly thin and clear, though often ” bubbled ” inside the foot rim. Apart from the body, consideration of the decoration is usually sufficient to suggest Chinese or New Hall provenance. That upon the former, though inferior to that upon the ware intended for home use, is nevertheless marked by fine, detailed brushwork, whereas the English decoration consists for the most part of simplified, conventional, almost careless patterns. Much Chinese ” export ” ware, in deference to Western preference, carries decoration in which details are picked out in gold, but this was sparingly used at New Hall, being reserved for compara tively few patterns. Finally, much New Hall ” hard paste ” porcelain can be identified by the presence of a mark, a painted pattern number in black, brown, orange, pink, or green, sometimes pre ceded by a script capital N or the letters ” No.” Naturally enough, at first at any rate, many Bristol shapes and patterns were retained; but as time went on, in keeping with quantity produc tion, a limited range of both was decided upon, notably as regards the tea wares which appar ently comprised al most the whole output. Let us first consider the tea pots, of which four shapes are well known. (1) Vertical sides to a lobed, diamondshaped section, earshaped handle, eightsided spout, convex lid with inverted pear shaped knob pierced with a steamhole, and fit ting snugly inside a projecting, upright rim. (2) Waisted, elliptical section, ordi nary ovalsectioned spout, convex lid with flattened top, solid knob, and wide flange projecting beyond the rim, and with a steamhole at one end. (3) Vertical sides to a plain oval section, same spout as No. 2, and the same lid fitting flush inside the rim, but with the steamhole in front, midway be tween knob and rim. (4) Boatshaped body, rim flar ing high and wide and blending into the upper handle terminal, with the same lid as Nos. 2 and 3. It was the usual practice to provide each teapot with a stand, shaped to fit the section. The cream jugs correspond in shape to the pots, but two additional shapes are known. One is very common indeed, and was one of the inherited Bristol models, shaped like a helmet, and not to be confused with a similar Lowestoft form, and the other is shaped like an inverted truncated cone with a waisted neck, wide flaring lip, and thick, solid base. It should be noted that the jugs belonging to the lobed teapots often have downward tapering, instead of vertical sides. Pictured right: A New Hall Large Bowl, Circa 1790, The interior painted with trailing iron-red peony and pink chrysanthemum beneath a pendant berry border and gilt line rim, the exterior with four flower-sprays and scattered […]
Most people recognise pieces of Szeiler – even if they don’t know what they are. A contradiction in terms? Maybe, but any visit to an antiques centre or collectables fair will result in the sighting of several of these charming pieces nestling quietly amongst brighter ceramic figures, waiting for their subtle appeal to be noticed. And once you’ve noticed, you’re hooked! Many people must have fallen for one of these attractive sculptures without even reading the backstamp, and only later seen the oval Szeiler logo. A typical Szeiler piece will be a small animal, such as a cat, dog or donkey, modelled in a slightly stylised pose with smooth contours which entice you to touch, and probably it will be decorated in light beige, white, or the palest of blue. Joseph Szeiler was born in Hungary in 1924. Though his original ambition was to become a veterinary surgeon, he was forced to give up his studies at Budapest University because the country was in such turmoil. After fleeing to Austria, he arrived in Britain in 1948, and worked at various potteries in the Midlands, including Wade Heath, where he was employed as a caster. Joseph obviously enjoyed the work because he decided to study ceramics and learn all he could about modelling, until finally he was skilled enough to have his own business. He went to work for an esteemed freelance modeller, C S Lancaster of Burslem, who taught him the various processes involved, including mould making and casting. Joseph also attended evening classes at Burslem School of Art. By 1951 he was in business, working from a small rented room in Hanley, but as he had no kiln he had to carry the heavy boxes of greenware for a mile to the local tile factory which fired the pieces for him. He modelled small creatures, decorating and glazing them himself, and his love of animals is evident in his work. Four years later he had earned enough money to open his own factory at Burslem where he produced not only animals, but also tableware, vases and other small pieces, and employed six people, including two of his fellow countrymen. One of Joseph’s most popular lines was the sad-eyed dog. These melancholy sitting spaniels with ultra-large heads came in a variety of sizes, and are still favourites with today’s collectors, who attempt to get the full range – more difficult than it sounds, as new sizes are still being discovered. It seems that much of the ware hasn’t been fully researched or listed, and though collectors are doing their best by noting everything they find, unknown pieces are still coming to light. Many of the creatures have a ‘cartoon-type’ sweet appearance, such as the spaniels mentioned earlier, and a range of cats (actually referred to as Bighead cats in an early Szeiler catalogue), which came in various colours such as tabby, grey, black or Siamese, and stood two-and-a-half inches tall. A ‘Nightie’ cat was a Bighead standing, wearing a long nightdress, and a Puffy cat was plump and round, and decorated with coloured spots! Another charming model featured a kitten with a drum, demonstrating to perfection Szeiler’s classic beige/ white/blue colouring. Bears included a range of adorable chunky cubs, about four inches tall, sitting upright with their forepaws casually resting on their hindpaws. Another played peek-a-boo by peeping cheekily through his legs. Donkeys must have been in demand, too, judging by the variety produced by the company. Many of them had ultra-long ears, vulnerable to breakage so always check before you buy to make sure they haven’t been repaired. As with the dogs, donkeys can be found in many sizes in both sitting and standing poses. Donkeys pulling carts were also made, once again showing off that attractive colour scheme. The enormous variety of creatures produced by the factory included foxes, zebras, pigs, deer, goats, chimpanzees, kingfishers, penguins and lambs. Giraffes were particularly attractive with caricature type faces and the distinctive beige and blue colouring. Horses, too, were popular and were featured in several poses including grazing, standing, lying and rearing on their hind legs. As well as the sad-eyed character spaniels, numerous realistic models of dogs were made such as corgis, poodles and collies. The catalogue also lists ‘Tubby dog’ and ‘Podgy dog’! A popular piece in the 1960s was a scared mouse inside a brandy glass, with an inquisitive cat attempting to climb inside, and one wonders how many homes still contain those Szeiler-made cat and mice. Some of the animal ranges were fancifully decorated with a floral design, and these could form a super collection on their own. Floral elephants, cows, pigs and, perhaps nicest of all, yawning hippos, would bring a smile to any ceramics display. The Nationality Series was an intriguing range featuring a collection of dogs dressed to resemble various countries. Each little dog was mounted on a base bearing its name written in script, and was modelled with great humour. George was an English bulldog wielding a cricket bat, Ping a Chinese pekinese with a conical straw hat, Gwen a Welsh corgi in traditional tall black hat, Jock a kilted Highland terrier and Pierre, a beretwearing French poodle clutching a baguette. Studio Szeiler also produced an enormous range of tiny white oval vases, edged in gold, each bearing a transfer print. These vases must have been sold in every souvenir shop across the country, judging from the huge amount around today – and they were still being produced in the late 1970s, as they could be obtained commemorating the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Though lacking the charm of the skilfully moulded animals, they would form an inexpensive collection, and, as with the figures, look best when they are grouped. They measure three inches in height (though some are slightly taller), and would only have held a very tiny posy. The tremendous range of subjects included dogs, cats, owls, butterflies, flowers and birds – it seems that any transfer available was used for these […]
We take a look at some of the Christmas Collectables, Christmas Collectibles and Christmas gifts available for Xmas 2018. Royal Doulton Royal Doulton has several festive offerings including their annual Christmas Figure entitled Christmas Surprise, their 2018 Father Christmas entitled Santa Christmas List and the annual petite figure Glad Tidings. Also available are two new models from the Carol Singers collection: Angels from the Realms of Glory and Here We Come A-Carolling. We especially like Santa’s Christmas List which is a colourful study reflecting all the magical charm of the festive season. The jolly Santa reads from a scroll bearing the names of the children he’s leaving gifts for under the flamboyantly decorated Christmas Tree. For more details visit Royal Doulton. Jim Shore Heartland Creek Jim Shore does create wonderful festive items and colourful items. White Woodland Santa is a new addition to the White Woodland Collections from Heartwood Creek by Jim Shore. Standing at 48cm tall, this impressive piece features Mr Claus with his arms out-stretched, holding a piece of bark in his hands. At either side of the log are small woodland creatures including a squirrel and two birds. His feet are surrounded by other creatures, with the piece depicting a white rabbit and grey raccoon. There are a number of new pieces in the White Woodland collection whose colours feature muted winter tones of ice blues, silvers and greys, creating a coherent look that will complement other items across the range while working harmoniously in any home off-set against existing festive décor. For more details visit Enesco’s Heartwood Creek by Jim Shore. Swarovski Silver Crystal The release of the Swarovski annual Christmas ornaments, stars and editions are always keenly anticipated. The 2018 Christmas editions include the SCS Christmas ornament, annual Christmas ball and a Kris Bear annual edition. The Annual Edition Ornament 2018 has been designed by Verena Castelein and is in golden crystal with 156 facets, and comes with a golden satin ribbon and a specially designed metal tag engraved with ‘SCS’ on one side and ‘2018’ on the other. The Christmas Ball edition is very nice and has been designed by Stefanie Nederegger. The Christmas Ball Ornament, Annual Edition 2018 showcases a delicate shooting star, a symbol of dreams and wishes, inside a hand-made, mouth-blown glass ball. Small hand-glued crystals add extra sparkle and make each piece truly one-of-a-kind. The 2018 Kris Bear Christmas Annual Edition shows the Kris Bear in an active pose, decorating a colourful crystal Christmas tree with a golden crystal star on top. The edition has been modelled by artist Viktoria Holzknecht. For more details visit Swarovski.com. Lladro Lladro have released three versions of the Lladro Christmas Bell and three versions of the Lladro Christmas Ball. These classic designs both feature new decoration inspired by musical instruments. In matte porcelain and decorated in three different colours. For more details visit Lladro.com. Steiff The Sweet Santa Musical Teddy Bear by Steiff is a limited edition teddy made in white mohair. It is a limited edition piece, has the white ear tag and the trademark Button in Ear – gold plated, and is being produced in an edition of only 1225 pieces. It stands 27cm tall and plays Jingle Bells . Very sweet. Visit https://www.steiff.com for more details.
Emerging from the Dark Ages, scholars concerned themselves with matters of magic, issues of theology and creative – if nonsensical – arguments such as the Flat Earth Theory. Pictured right: W&R Carlton Ware 3″ NEW MIKADO 2814; 4 3/4″ CHRYSANTHEMUM 2930; 6″ PARROT 3018 vases Among those who queried the absurd, Thomas Aquinas is thought to have been the first to ask that fabulous, unanswerable question, How many angels can dance on the point of a very fine needle, without jostling one another?” Perplexing himself with such paranormal nitpicking must have been disappointing, for it appears that the number of angels has never been ratified. Perhaps he should have gone out more? But just as medieval mystics exercised their brainpower on these metaphysical musings, similar unfathomable mysteries still abound in the 21st Century and cannot be dismissed. For instance, fervent Carlton Ware collectors may reflect upon spatial complexities, not to mention the impracticable infinite, in asking, “How many pieces of china can Carlton Ware enthusiasts stuff into their cabinets before a collection reaches critical mass?” Contemplating this conundrum is indicated if one is confronted by the incredible shrinking domain combined with an ever-expanding Carlton Ware display. Drastic solutions may therefore be considered: stop collecting altogether and live in minimalist bliss; or buying a stately home – none of which is possible at this time. Other options are taking up philately instead; or pruning ruthlessly and with great sorrow. Nevertheless, a more pleasant – albeit somewhat temporary – measure is to think small and buy petite, pint-sized, even miniscule pieces; and consequently live happily for a lot longer. Fascination for miniatures has featured in the art of many civilisations throughout the ages. Over the centuries Far Eastern and Asian cultures produced quantities of fine, intricately carved figurines and minute, bejewelled curiosities; these delicate trinkets are collected worldwide today for their beauty and fine craftsmanship. One example is the Japanese netske (or netsuke), a small toggle that was used to counterbalance the container (or inro) worn suspended from a sash by men to store items of everyday use, in the absence of pockets. The netske became an item of high fashion, skillfully wrought from ivory or wood into teeny animals, birds and sea creatures, portraits of dancers and demons or droll cameos of characters from everyday urban life. These superbly crafted netske are avidly sought after by collectors and continue to be worn by the Japanese on ceremonial occasions. Diminutive and decorative works of art, including mini-portraits painted on porcelain, were produced, admired and sought after throughout European high society for hundreds of years; however the Victorians, who obsessed over just about everything, took the art of the miniature to new heights. Divine, yet useless knick-knacks, for example the ubiquitous cameo, exquisite little sewing kits or tiny booklets bound in gold and studded with precious stones – enclosing nothing more than pages of ephemera such as weather forecasts and phases of the moon (a classic combination of the sublime and ridiculous) – were all the rage. From its inception in 1890, the Carlton Ware works naturally produced something for everyone: from the gloriously huge – Derek and Jane’s magnificent 25″ jardinière and stand (first showcased in CW3’s quarterly magazine The Carlton Comet issue 5), to the tiniest – this rare, BROWN LUSTRINE handled pot which stands a mere 1½” high, shown here with a 2½” BLACKBERRY butter pat dish and a 1½” Clarice Cliff Autumn Crocus quatri-footed dish. Souvenir ware was manufactured for ease of transportation, and was therefore characteristically of minimal dimensions. This area of collecting is a category of its own and was the subject of an article in Newsletter # 22. Many potteries produced tiny replicas of their larger wares, some perhaps as tradesmen’s samples. These small pieces demonstrate how their patterns were reduced accordingly, while others depict only a portion of the overall design. W&R 3″ spill vases Back row: Carlton Ware MIKADO 2881; MAUVE LUSTRINE; MIKADO 2881 Middle row: PARROT 3027; Cubist Butterfly 3190 Front row: Moonlight Cameo 2946 Crown Devon’s Sylvan and Royal George Lustrine were first introduced at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. The sailing dinghy on this tiny blue Lustrine snuff box represents only a small element of the overall seascape depicting a majestic galleon in full sail. The elegant and enduring Crown Devon Royal George pattern commemorates an historic and mighty 18th century 100 gun warship of the same name. Crown Devon snuff boxes Left: pale blue Lustrine Royal George; Right: Rouge Sylvan Lustrine Butterflies (2½” diameter x 1¼” high) Daisy Makeig Jones for Wedgwood Flying Humming Bird mottled blue and orange lustre bowls (front: 2½” diameter x ¾” high; back: 1½” diameter x 1″ high) The stunning Sylvan Lustrine and its sister design Rural Lustrine also enjoyed continuing popularity over many decades. The wonderful Sylvan butterflies, hand-enamelled in brilliant colours on mottled blue or ruby lustre ground, were wreathed by lavishly gilded ivy leaves and, on larger pieces, fluttered past gold “pointillist” style tree trunks. Crown Devon Lustrine Royal George & Sylvan Lustrine Butterflies snuff boxes (2½” diameter x 1¼” high) Created for Wedgwood in 1917 by the celebrated artist, Daisy Makeig Jones, Flying Humming Birds formed part of the Ordinary Lustre series, which preceded her fêted Fairyland Lustre ware. Numbers Z5088 and Z5294 were allocated to the Flying Humming Birds patterns which, with their own exclusive border of Flying Geese, became a highly successful range. Wedgwood Flying Humming Bird bowls pattern Z5294 with Flying Geese exterior border Children’s or dolls’ tea sets were produced over the years but few survive, having been sacrificed whilst fulfilling the purpose for which they were intended. For this reason, an entire vintage children’s tea or coffee set is a rarity and, to remain intact, must have been carefully replaced in its box once the well-intentioned benefactor had departed; or stored reverentially in a cabinet, safe from the clumsy attentions of its young and rightful owner. This delightful Carlton Ware children’s tea set […]
Jumeau was a French company, founded in the early 1840s, which designed and manufactured high quality bisque dolls. It was founded by Louis-Desire Belton and Pierre-François Jumeau in the Maison Jumeau of Montreuil-sous-Bois, near Paris, France. While Belton did not remain with the company for long, under Jumeau’s leadership (and later, under the leadership of his son, Emile), the company soon gained a reputation for dolls with beautiful faces and “exquisite” clothing which replicated the popular fashions of the time. Pictured: French Bisque Bebe Triste, Size 14, Emile Jumeau with Original Couturier Costume c1867 – 26″ (66 cm.) Bisque swivel head on kid-edged bisque shoulder plate, perfectly oval-shaped face with appealing plumpness to lower chin, small blue glass enamel inset eyes with darker blue outer rims, dark eyeliner, painted lashes, mauve-blushed eye shadow, feathered brows, shaded nostrils of aquiline nose, closed mouth with well-defined lips enhanced by accent lines, pierced ears pierced into head, blonde mohair wig over cork pate, kid body with shapely torso, gusset-jointed arms, stitch-jointed legs, ice-blue silk antique gown, undergarments, blue kidskin ankle boots, bonnet. Condition: generally excellent, body sturdy and clean. Comments: Pierre-Francois Jumeau, circa 1867, the portrait-like model was likely created for exhibition at the Paris 1867 International Exposition. Doll from The Billie & Paige Welker Collection Image Copyright Theriaults. The Jumeau company first emerged as a partnership between Louis-Desire Belton and Pierre-François Jumeau in Paris in the early 1840s. In 1844, Belton and Jumeau presented their dolls at the Paris Exposition (at which they received an honorable mention), but by 1846 Belton’s name was no longer associated with the dolls, and Jumeau was trading in his own right. A bronze medal in the 1849 Paris Exposition followed, as did an appearance at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, at which the company was awarded a First Place Medal. Through much of this period, the firm sold only their own dolls to wholesalers, although during the 1850s and 1860s, the company moved into selling wax dolls imported from Britain. Pictured: French Bisque Bebe Triste, Size 14, Emile Jumeau with Original Couturier Costume – 30″ (76 cm.) Bisque socket head with very full cheeks and chin, large blue glass paperweight inset eyes with heavy upper eyelids, dark eyeliner, painted lashes, mauve-blushed eye shadow, brush-stroked and feathered brows with decorative glaze, shaded nostrils, closed mouth with outlined and accented lips, dimpled chin, separately modeled pierced ears, blonde human hair over cork pate, French composition and wooden fully jointed plump body with straight wrists. Condition: generally excellent. Marks: 14 (head) Jumeau Medaille d’Or Paris (body). Comments: Emile Jumeau, the wistful-faced Bebe Triste, circa 1884. Doll from The Billie & Paige Welker Collection Image Copyright Theriaults. At the Paris expositions and the Great Exhibition in London, Jumeau dolls received their commendations due largely to the quality of the clothing, and no special significance was attached to the dolls themselves. This changed in 1867, when at the Exposition Universelle of that year, the company was awarded a Silver Medal, and “special mention was made of the doll’s heads”. 1867 was also the year that Pierre-François’ son, Emile Jumeau, joined the company. By 1873, when they were awarded a gold medal at the Vienna Exposition, the company was producing their own bisque dolls in their factory in Montreuil. Pictured: Extremely rare and large Pierre Francois portrait Jumeau bisque shoulder head fashion doll – Having the features of a character lady, fixed blue glass eyes, with delicate shading to lids, closed slightly smiling mouth, moulded pierced ears and long blonde mohair wig, swivel head to kid leather body with separate fingers, wearing ivory silk and lace two piece gown, under garments, lace up boots and straw bonnet, 66cm (26in) tall. Image Copyright Bonhams. Although the Jumeau firm had won commendations, very few Jumeau dolls can be securely identified dating before the 1870s. However, by 1877 Emile Jumeau had produced the first Bébés (or dolls in the image of a little girl). With realistic glass eyes and “stylish fashions” produced by costumiers, thousands of Bébé dolls were produced for an international market. Pictured: French Bisque Portrait Bebe by Emile Jumeau – 12″ (30 cm.) Pressed bisque socket head, large grey/blue glass inset eyes known as “wrap-around” with spiral threading and pronounced black pupils, painted lashes, dark eyeliner, rose-blushed eye shadow, feathered brows, accented nostrils and eye corners, closed mouth, outlined lips, pierced ears, blonde mohair wig over cork pate, French composition and wooden eight-loose-ball-jointed body with straight wrists, pretty antique aqua silk costume, undergarments, leather slippers. Condition: generally excellent. Marks: 8/0 (head) Jumeau Medaille d’Or Paris (body). Comments: Emile Jumeau, circa 1878. Doll from The Billie & Paige Welker Collection Image Copyright Theriaults. In 1878, the Jumeau company won a Gold Medal at the Exposition Universelle (1878). The award was proudly advertised on the bodies, boxes, shoes and even the dress labels of the dolls. Jumeau won a number of other high awards including the prizes for the best dollmaker at both the Sydney International Exhibition (1879) and Melbourne International Exhibition (1880) in Australia. The dolls were internationally sought after as luxury items and status symbols. The firm also was regarded as an industrial success, with production figures of over three million dolls annually by the mid-1890s. The “Golden Age” of the Jumeau factory lasted for two decades, from the late 1870s to the late 1890s, when the competition from German dolls sent the firm into financial difficulties. The Jumeau dolls from the later 1890s are of more variable quality. German dolls in the 1890s were cheaper than the French, but still well-made and much loved by little girls, even if they were by no means as elegant or graceful in face or costume as the best Jumeau dolls.
We all love a bargain, so it`s a bonus when one doll suddenly becomes two! It`s a lot more common than you might think – many dolls can be altered in appearance, giving extra play value, as well as novelty interest. Children love it when a sad doll becomes happy, or a doll in tatters is transformed into a princess, and numerous people nowadays are building up collections of `transforming dolls`. There are several ways in which a doll can change its appearance. Probably the most commonly-found are the topsy-turvy dolls, which consist of two half-dolls joined at the waist, sometimes with an extra doll attached at the back for good measure. Other transformable types include two-or-three-faced dolls, dolls with interchangeable heads, and dolls whose expressions change because their rubber faces are moulded over a moveable wire armature. The easiest topsy-turvy dolls to find are those made from cloth. Sometimes they are dolls which tell a story, such as Cinderella in rags turning into the belle of the ball with a flick of her skirts, or maybe Red Riding Hood who changes to grandma. The wolf might be incorporated too, giving even more value. The principle in all these dolls is the same – they wear long skirts and beneath them you`ll find another head and body, rather than a pair of legs. Recently, Jellycat, produced a topsy-turvy Alice in Wonderland doll who changes from Alice into the Queen of Hearts. Jellycat dolls are beautifully and elaborately made, and their other exciting upside-down dolls include the Frog Princess, Nursery Rhymes, Cinderella and the Enchanted Garden. Another maker, the North American Bear company, issue dolls which changed from witches to fairies and from Goldilocks to the Three Bears, amongst other innovative designs, while during the 1980s Peggy Nisbet made porcelain topsy-turvy dolls. One was Cinderella, who turned from rags to riches, the other was `My Fair Lady`, which altered from poor Eliza Doolittle to posh Eliza dressed for Ascot. Souvenir Topsy-turvys often seen, such colourful stockinette dolls from the West Indies, whose costumes change when they are reversed. Another form of costume doll has a moulded felt face with painted side-glance eyes, and turns from a Spanish senorita into a peasant girl. A few years ago, an Australian company called Milly Molly brought out a rag doll which turned from white to black, the idea being to promote racial harmony. Their slogan was ‘We may look different but we feel the same’, and the marketing theme was a ‘reconciliation doll for world peace’ The idea behind these charming dolls wasn`t new; the white to black theme has appeared many times, not just in cloth dolls but those made from other mediums too. Topsy-turvy dolls can be cloth, composition, plastic, china or celluloid. The American Madame Alexander doll company made a composition doll – a kind of plaster – in the 1930s, which consisted of a pair of dolls joined at the waist, one sprayed black, the other pink. The first had pigtails of black woolly hair, while the other doll`s hair was moulded and painted. These early Madame Alexander dolls change hands for around £150 in good condition. Plastic topsy-turvys i nclude a Roddy from the 1960s, with joined torsos. This was possibly a prototype, as few are around. A simple way of changing a doll`s appearance is to make a cloth doll with two fronts. This method was used for an attractive doll, Bobby Snooks, made by the US company, ToyWorks in the 1980s. On one side he is a smart soldier, but turn him over and he`s tattered and torn after battle, complete with a plaster on his nose. For years, manufacturers have puzzled how to produce dolls which change their expressions. Swivel-heads were often used in antique china dolls; the doll`s head might have two, or even three, faces, and a twist of a knob turned the head to reveal the desired expression. During the 1970s and 80s, this method was revived and a number of `cheap and cheerful` multi-faced bisque china dolls appeared in the shops. These dolls are now becoming sought by collectors, as the early ones are so expensive. The same technique has been used with plastic dolls. In America, they were particularly popular during the 1950s and 60s, and companies such as Ideal issued a series of them such as a soft-bodied girl with a knob on her head hidden by a bonnet. Her three faces changed from sleep, to smile, to cry. One of the most delightful two-faced dolls of recent times was made by Falca in the 1980s. She was a sturdy, 22 inch baby and her two faces – one happy, one miserable – were beautifully and realistically moulded. In addition, she featured a crying/laughing sound chip which, rather cleverly, would only operate when the correct face was forward! Various companies have made vinyl face-change play dolls from time to time, such as a small, 8 inch, unmarked Hong Kong baby dressed a blue floral hooded suit who featured a large knob on top of his head which, when turned, allowed three expressions. Another doll, `Toni Two`, was sold in packaging which boasted, `Turn my head and I`m mad, turn my head and I`m glad`. Toni Two was a toothy toddler wearing a red striped dress. Doll-designer Marie Osmond has featured two-face dolls in her collector`s range, including Missy, a beautifully-dressed doll in a turquoise gingham frock and mob cap, whose expression can be changed from happy to sad. Another way of changing faces is to model the doll`s head on a wire frame, using thin soft plastic, such as in the case of Mattel`s 1960 `Cheerful Tearful` or their later `Saucy` doll. Cheerful Tearful`s expression changed from a smile to a pout when her arm was raised, and she looked cute. In contrast, Saucy was hilarious. Operated in the same manneA collection of Dressel and Kister shoulder head and half-dollsr, she rolled her eyes, grimaced and made the most […]
Crackers About Christmas by Tracy Martin No festive dinning table would be complete without one of our greatest British traditions – Christmas crackers. Each year we all gather around and politely ask the person sitting next to us if they would pull a cracker. Then out floats the corny jokes, the even more tacky gifts and of course the unflattering coloured paper hats. Whether this is a tradition you love or loathe collecting unused Christmas crackers is an explosive collectors market which would never have existed if confectioner Tom Smith hadn’t discovered a sugar coated sweet. Tom Smith – The Bon-Bons Tom Smith discovered the ‘bon-bon’ (sugared almond) sweet whilst on a trip to Paris in the 1840s. Wrapped in twists of coloured paper he realised this sweet would sell well in London as up until that point most were sold loose in paper bags. Proved right the bon-bon was a renowned success but only over the Christmas period with the problem being sales virtually stopped once the festive season had come to an end. In order to encourage orders all year round Tom added a small love moto which he placed within the paper. Once again sales were most successful around Christmas so with this in mind Tom decided to develop his seasonal sweet wrapping and cash in. A flash of inspiration came one day after he had thrown a log onto his burning fire as a big crackle exploded from the log which made Tom jump. This sound was the necessary spark that he had been looking for in order to enhance his ‘bon bon’ and make it more desirable to the buyers. The only problem being that Tom had to find a way to recreate the bang which would add excitement to this sweet. An Explosive Success After two years Tom finally discovered that if a strip of saltpetre, something that is familiar in today’s crackers, was pasted to two pieces of thin card at each end was pulled the friction created a spark and then a crack. He had to do much experimenting though because sometimes they burst into flames, thus ensuring Tom had a few burnt fingers. By 1860 Tom Smith had finally perfected his cracks resulting in his ‘Bangs of Expectation’ being born. Keeping the sweet and the moto inside but adding this noise gave his new confectionary a little more excitement which proved popular with the children and amusing for the adults. The buyers couldn’t get enough of this new novelty sweet and he became inundated with orders. Tom then began to refine his concept. He kept the moto but no longer placed sweets inside the paper, instead he added surprise gifts. Tom then renamed his new innovative novelties as Cosaques because the noise made was similar to the sound of the Cossack’s cracking whips as they rode through Paris during the French and Prussian wars. The Cosaques or as we know them today -crackers, were such a phenomenal success that Tom took the idea overseas. This wasn’t such a good move as one Eastern manufacturer stole his idea, copied it and shipped a consignment of crackers to Britain just before Christmas. Tom was horrified but wouldn’t be beaten so he set about designing eight different varieties of cracker, working day and night with his staff they were ready in time for Christmas and were distributed right across the country. After this there was no looking back as Tom was now the biggest manufacturer of Christmas crackers. Cracker Collecting When it comes to the serious business of collecting Christmas crackers there are a few key things that collectors look for. The design on the cracker and the box imagery is important, also what novelties can be found inside define much of the rareabilty and of course the obvious point that people only want boxed ones that haven’t been pulled. As with collecting anything condition is also important and the better the condition – i.e. not too much fading to the crackers or box, no tears and still with their surprises inside – the more money can be commanded. Early Crackers Throughout the Victorian period there were many themes to the boxes of crackers with Japanoserie being one of the most prolific. Inspired by the popular operas of the time such as Madame Butterfly and The Mikado these cracker boxes were decorated with images of Japanese Geisha girls and inside the surprises were miniature versions of Japanese pottery. These Japanese inspired crackers continued right thought to the outbreak of the First World War and Tom Smith crackers often featured Oriental themes. Topical events were also often used such as the ‘Votes for Women; Suffragettes. There were two different boxed sets produced – the ‘anti’ packs which made fun of the women and the ‘pro’ packs which joined allegiance with the women as they were made in the purple, green and white house colours of the Suffragette movement. However, even if a few boxes of these crackers survived they would be near impossible to find as both collectors of Christmas crackers and those that collect Suffragette memorabilia would be fighting to own them. The ‘Bank of Love’ crackers released by Tom Smith in 1884 was a popular choice with young people holding parties as the crackers box depicted a bank where you find love. So if the party hosts or guests were looking for a potential wife or husband these crackers was the perfect ice breaker. The same design was also reissued as the ‘Toy Bazaar’ and ‘Lowther Arcade.’ The early 20th Century brought a whole host of fresh ideas for cracker box imagery and the crackers themselves. On 22nd November 1922 the archaeologist and Egyptologist, Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings. On 16th February 1923 he opened the tomb and first saw the sarcophagus of this Egyptian King. This discovery fuelled the public’s interest in Egyptology and Tutankhamen ephemera were available everywhere – including on boxes […]
Bécherel The City of Books. One of the highlights to a recent trip to Brittany was a visit to Bécherel The City of Books also the Village of Books. Being a collector of first editions, antiquarian and children’s books it was exciting to visit the 15 or so bookshops all within a short walk of each other. Located northwest of Rennes, Bécherel officially became a Book Town in 1989 when the first Fête du Livre was held; it is now an annual event, which takes place at Easter and is complemented by a series of events throughout the year including a reading festival in October. Sadly my visit did not coincide with an event or the book market that takes place on the first Sunday of every month. The tourist information office (Maison du livre et du tourisme) has an excellent map of the village detailing the places of interest and most importantly the bookshops and their book subjects and specialities. Each shop has their own appeal and character. Most are in old shops and houses with many rooms and winding corridors. The village is full of character and every bookshop and related shops are within a couple of minutes walk, with some next door to each other. So what was I looking for as being a French town the majority of books are in French. There were small collections of English books in the shops but I was looking for Asterix, French comics and vintage French Agathie Christie books which have fantastic covers. The Librarie Abraxas and Pochoteque Abraxas has over 125,000 books including sections on literature, sci fi, manga, thrillers, children’s books, science and humanities. I also found a great selection of Asterix and French comics at Le Donjon, and a great selection of Agathie Christie and The Saint (Le Saint) books at Les Perseides (which also has a small cafe). The only problem I had was not having enough time to do fully explore every bookshop. You could happily spend a couple of days in Becherel. If you love books and are in the region Becherel The City of Books is a must.
Wemyss Ware Wemyss Ware (pronounced Weems) is named after the castle situated on cliffs between East Wemyss and West Wemyss in Fife, which was the home of the Grosvenor family who became patrons of the Fife Pottery in Gallatown, near Kirkcaldy. The Fife Pottery was built in 1817, traditionally the Fife Pottery had paid its way by producing useful domestic wares, and it was not until the 1880s when the production of the hand-painted earthenware, with characteristically bold decoration, recognised today as Wemyss Ware began. The first piece of Wemyss Ware appeared in 1882 on the initiative of Robert Methven Heron. R. M. Heron had studied painting at the studios of the Edinburgh artists of his time and had travelled extensively in Europe. The production of Wemyss style pieces, particularly with traditional subjects such as the cock and hen patterns, had already begun when R. M. Heron brought back to the pottery six continental artists to augment the staff at the Fife Pottery. Five returned, and the one who remained was Karel Nekola, who became chief decorator and instructor at the pottery. Karel Nekola introduced a new style of ware to the pottery which was initially fired at a low temperature in order to produce a soft ‘biscuit’ body which would be able to absorb the colours from the decorator’s brush. It is this initial firing which is responsible for giving Wemyss Ware a body which is very fragile. After being painted and dipped in a soft lead glaze the pottery was again fired at a very low temperature, this time so as to avoid spoiling the brilliant colours. Wemyss Ware was decorated with natural subjects, such as flowers, in particular the red cabbage roses, but also buttercups, honeysuckle, sweet peas, carnations, Canterbury bells, thistles, irises, violets; and fruits are to be found including: cherries, plums, apples, pears and oranges may be seen, but also rare fig pattern, or lemons and grapes. Pictured: A Wemyss ‘Cabbage Roses’ ewer and basin – The basin painted by Karel Nekola, ewer 16cm high, 19cm diameter, both impressed WEMYSS and with green painted Wemyss mark, ewer with blue printed T.Goode & Co mark. Sold at Bonhams, Edinbugh for £275, August 2011. Image Copyright Bonhams. Wemyss Ware was a instant success, and with interest shown in the pottery by the Grosvenor and other Scottish families, Wemyss became an exclusive, expensive product much sought after by the affluent. Thomas Goode & Co. the well-known Mayfair china shop, became the companies sole retail outlet in England. Goode’s would often request special shapes and designs. Pictured: A large Wemyss Ware pig, with sponged black markings, the details picked out in pink, 46cms long, impressed WEMYSS WARE, R.H. & S., and bearing red printed retailer’s mark for T.GOODE & Co. Sold at Bonhams, Edinburgh for £1,995, December 2004. Image Copyright Bonhams. Karel Nekola continued to work at the pottery until disability prevented him and even then continued working at home, using a small kiln which was built for him in his garden, so that at his death in 1915 he had completed 30 years arduous service for the pottery. Edwin Sandland became chief decorator to the Fife Pottery following the death of Karel Nekola. Edwin Sandland, was from a family of potters and was a decorator in the Staffordshire area, and was posted to Perth during the Great War. He joined the pottery until his own death in 1928. New designs were introduced at this time and typical Wemyss motifs were painted over an all-black ground. Another innovation was to paint the design over splashes of various colours thus producing a gaudy effect. At the same time means were successfully found to raise the temperature of the final firing and so produce a glaze which was free from crazing. Despite new designs and new techniques the great economic depression of the 1930s meant that the pottery ceased trading in Fife. Wemyss Ware at Bovey Tracy 1930-1957 Thus the Fife Pottery came to an end in 1930, but Wemyss Ware secured a kind of extended life when the patterns and designs were taken over by the Bovey Pottery Co. of Bovey Tracey in Devon. Here Joseph Nekola, Karel Nekola’s son, following in his father’s footsteps, continued the familiar style of painting on a harder, whiter body, under a brilliant glaze which was free from crazing. A number of pieces produced during this time are marked as “Plichta.” Jan Plichta was a Czech immigrant that sold and exported wholesale glass and pottery, and items he ordered from the Bovey Pottery were marked with his name. Wemyss decorators produced items for Plichta, which sometimes leads to confusion, but in general Plichta items are inferior in quality. One of the lead apprentices at the pottery was Esther Weeks who went onto become head decorator in 1952 when Jospeh died. The pottery at Bovey Tracy closed in 1957. Wemyss Ware and the Griselda Hill Pottery Ltd® In 1985 Griselda Hill started producing Wemyss Ware® back in its birthplace in the heart of Fife. Griselda was inspired by the memory of her grandmother’s Wemyss® pig, which she discovered to have been made locally when she moved to Fife in 1984. The first product was a cat modelled on an example in Kirkcaldy Museum, and over the years since then the Pottery has developed a range of Wemyss Ware® which can easily stand alongside the originals. Pictured: A modern black and white Wemyss Ware pottery cat from the Griselda Hill Pottery Ltd®. This and other cats etc are still available at https://www.wemyssware.co.uk/ As with the original Wemyss Ware®, the success of the Pottery is based on the quality of the hand painting and the beauty of the designs and colours. All the artists have been working at the Pottery for over fifteen years, and have become very skilled at their work. While some new technology has been introduced to minimise production problems and environmental pollution, the techniques of hand decoration remain the same as ever. Being hand painted, each piece is unique. Pictured: A modern small clover Wemyss Ware pottery pig from the Griselda Hill Pottery Ltd®. This and other animals etc are still […]