When it comes to elite 20th Century designer offerings one of the most celebrated of them all has to be the late Prince of Fashion – Gianni Versace. His flamboyant, original and controversial creations were vibrant and risqué yet adored by all, including celebrities and royalty. Gianni’s ability to revolutionise the industry by breaking the mould with daring, revealing couture has ensured his place as a design icon whose legacy lives on through the innovative and desirable designer label – Versace. Born on 2nd December 1946, Gianni grew up in Reggio di Calabria, Italy, with his older brother Santo and younger sister Donatella. His father ran a haberdashery and his mother, Franca, was a dressmaker who copied French designs for her clientele. Gianni’s love for fashion was definitely influenced by his mother and at an early age he used to help her source decorative items such as precious stones to elaborate her embroidered dresses. Aged 21 Gianni prematurely left college where he was studying architecture, to return to work with his mother as a designer and buyer. His desire to create clothing ensured that the company started to attract a younger clientele with the first star to wear Gianni’s designs being Miss Italy. After five years, in 1972 Gianni decided to further his fashion career and so made the move to the Italian centre of high Fashion, Milan. It wasn’t long before he was discovered by Arnaldo Girombelli who was one of the most influential names in the Italian fashion industry and owned the label Genny. Impressed by Gianni’s designs Arnaldo offered him work in a freelance capacity, and Gianni set about working with materials such as leather and suede. It wasn’t long before he had made a successful name for himself especially once he had presented his signature women’s collection at the Art Museum and was rewarded with the prestigious Milanese Golden Eye award. Gianni then went on to present his first male collection and was soon to become one of the top ranking International fashion designers. The first Versace boutique was opened in 1978, where Gianni sold his own designs and creations alongside other labels, but it soon became apparent that he was outselling all the other brands. One of his creations in the early 1980s, a metal mesh dress, gained great acclaim and was described as giving the look of mercury dripping over a women’s body. Realising that his designs were flourishing, the next inevitable step was to open more boutiques, which he did all around the world. In 1985 Gianni expanded his ranges by adding the Instante label to his couture collections. More affordable, this enabled Gianni to offer his designs to a wider and younger clientele. Success was also very much due to his brother Santo who was responsible for the financial side of the business and his shrewd acumen allowed Versace The Company, to grow in size extremely fast. Very much a family business, Donatella was also heavily involved on the creative side as she too possessed a flair for design which became a huge influence for her brother. Lifelong partner to Gianni, Antonio d’Amico was also involved with the Versace Empire by working as a co-ordinator on the Instante label and Donatella’s husband, Paul Beck was, and still is, a manager of the Versace Company. This family-run company continued to expand and, as we all know, is now an International Designer Fashion label. Much of this success is down to Gianni’s visions and how he reinterpreted the clothes from original paper sketches into stunning works of art worn by both men and women around the globe. Although all the garments created showed great skill in the way they were cut and tailored, Gianni was not particularly good at drawing. He would roughly sketch his ideas and pass them onto his assistants who would create something that a pattern cutter could work from in order to make the garments wearable. Aside from Gianni’s talent to design extravagance flamboyant clothing he also worked and experimented with contrasting fabrics. Teaming leather with velvet and silk with flannel the result was spectacular, especially when decorated (much like his mother did) with beads or stones. Sexuality was also key to the Versace designs; risqué evocative clothing often combined with vibrant loud prints – the garments oozed sex. A Versace creation is a show piece that looked fantastic on the catwalk and gorgeous on the street. Another skill that Gianni possessed was being able to turn his hand to any style and then very cleverly using this to market and promote his ranges by loaning the outfits to celebrities who were sure to be photographed. This cost him far less money than taking out an advertisement in one of the glossy magazines but also proved that his designs were adored by the rich and famous. Because of this genius marketing ploy many celebrities around the world have adorned themselves in Gianni’s clothing. We all remember that dress worn by Liz Hurley in 1994 which was fastened along the side with large gold safety pins but Gianni also designed elaborate stage costumes for Elton John and elegant sophisticated gowns for Princess Diana, making him the first ever non-British designer label that the Princess had worn. Although the business remained successful, problems started to occur in the mid 1990s when family arguments between Gianni and Donatella were rumoured. He was also said to have suffered from a very rare cancer of the inner ear but the most devastating event was in 1997 when Gianni was gunned down and murdered by serial killer Andrew Cunanan outside his ocean-fronted mansion in Miami. The killer then turned the gun on himself and committed Control of the company was passed to Santo with Donatella becoming the head of design but the soul heiress was Donatella’s daughter Allegra, who inherited the Gianni fortune aged just 11. Today Versace is still a thriving company with Donatella at the helm, but no one will ever forget the […]
When we think of Snow White, most of us remember the classic Walt Disney animated film, first released in 1937, and which has terrified small children ever since with its scary witch. However, the story of the film was not something that Disney dreamt up, it was based on a legend and, like similar tales, dates from centuries ago. The Disney version is very like the one which was noted down by the Brothers Grimm in 1857, and is one of the less bloodthirsty versions. One of the earliest written versions stems from 1634, long before the Brothers Grimm discovered it. Not intended for little ones, this tale was gradually enlarged, adapted and added to until it contained such intrigues as an illegitimate baby, cannibalism, witchcraft, lots of blood, murder, poisoning and sexual awakening. Perhaps it is not surprising that when Disney was searching for a suitable subject for his first full-length film, he decided to choose the diluted Grimm version, which he prettied-up and made even more harmless. Even so, it still contains poisoned gifts, attempted murder, witchcraft and the rather dubious concept of a young woman living with seven unmarried men! The Grimm Brothers begin their version with the description of a queen sewing as she watched the snowflakes falling. Not looking at what she was doing, she pricked her finger and a drop of scarlet blood fell. She thought that the red looked pretty on the snow, surrounded by the ebony of the window-frame, and she wished that one day she would have a child with snow-white skin, ebony hair and blood-red lips. In time, the queen did have such a baby, but then died, and the king took a new wife, who became the wicked stepmother. That’s when Snow White’s troubles began; the new queen was jealous and wanted the girl killed, and the story was skilfully and entertainingly brought to life by Walt Disney. When the film was issued, it was a huge success. It was Disney’s first feature film, and the music and colourful cartoons enchanted both children and adults. Many companies, such as Chad Valley, were quick to capitalise on the idea of media memorabilia. The Chad Valley sets were issued in the 1930s, and Snow White stood 16 inches tall, while the Dwarfs were around 6 inches. These calico-bodied dolls had moulded felt faces with painted features, and were very well modelled. Show White wore a pink and blue rayon dress with pink shoes and white underwear, while the Dwarfs had colourful felt outfits. Hair and beards were mohair, and they bore a reasonable facial resemblance to the cartoon versions. If you are very lucky, you might come across a doll with the original card swing tag, but in any case, the dolls should bear embroidered Chad Valley labels on their bodies. Today, a cloth Chad Valley Snow White, together with her Seven Dwarfs, in excellent condition, will cost you in the region of £1000. For most collectors, however, a Chad Valley set is beyond their reach; nevertheless many, more modern but still enchanting, dolls representing the ebony-haired girl and the droll dwarfs are available at just a fraction of that price. A grouping of them makes a particularly colourful collection. Snow White is one of those characters which everyone seems to recognise, and most people have a soft spot for her. The dwarfs are comical in appearance, so a Snow White display is cheerful and bright. Mattel have produced several versions of Snow White over the years, including a very pretty model dressed in her famous blue and yellow gown, which reveals her in a tattered dress, all ready to scrub the doorstep, when the skirt and sleeves are removed. Usually, these Mattel Disney dolls incorporate a Barbie body, but have a specially modelled head to represent the character concerned. For many years the company produced dolls to accompany the various films, but nowadays the dolls are often made by Vivid Imaginations or Simba. In the 1990s, Mattel issued a miniature Snow White, just seven inches high, in their ‘Dancing Princesses’ series. Finely dressed in her traditional yellow and blue clothing, she was mounted on a musical box. Small wheels under the music box enabled her to spin when the box was pushed along. Another Mattel series was the ‘Holiday Princess’ festive set, featuring Disney heroines. Amongst them was a pretty Snow White dressed in a blue bodice and white satin skirt, while the ‘Petite Holiday Princess’ collection contained miniatures of the dolls, with bells sewn into their skirts and a loop to hang them from a Christmas tree. Sets of Dwarfs were also made by the company, including an ingenious Dopey and Sneezy re-enacting a scene from the film when Dopey hid under Sneezy’s long coat. This clever toy had Dopey standing on Sneezy’s shoulders, and wearing an over-size coat which covered Sneezy, making Dopey appear twice as tall. Some of the Mattel dwarfs had colour-change functions; they held a magic ‘jewel’ or other item which changed colour with the application of cold water. The clothes were moulded on to their bodies. Dwarfs seem very popular; a super Sleepy made by Mattel in the 1980s snores as his eyes close. More recently, Vivid Imagination’s sets have include one which depicts them all in their nightshirts! Squidgy all-in-one moulded vinyl sets can also often be found. These date from the 1970s and were probably originally intended as baby toys, but they all add interest to a Disney doll collection. Barbie herself has depicted Snow White several times, as opposed to the character-headed version. A particularly attractive model is the Special Edition Snow White Barbie, from 1999, which depicts her in the classic yellow and blue gown. Barbie has exchanged her blonde hair and pink lips for black hair and bright face paint, and the overall effect is stunning. A doll very similar to Sindy appeared as Snow White, issued by Pedigree in 1978, and it is sought after today by […]
Retro and vintage have become the new buzz words with those eagle eyed collectors who seek out all things dating from the middle of the twentieth-century onwards.
Portmeirion Pottery The name Portmeirion to many people conjures up images of the beautiful Italian style village in North Wales or they find themselves reminiscing the cult 1960s television series “The Prisoner”. To collectors the name Portmeirion is innovative and decorative designs in pottery created by Susan William Ellis. Sir Clough William-Ellis created the idealic Portmeirion village in North Wales back in 1925 to encourage visitors to holiday cheaply in pleasant but unusual surroundings. His daughter Susan had a love for art and had always had made design part of her life but it was not until she began work for the Portmeirion gift shop situated in the village that her designs became her own and Portmeirion pottery started to evolve. Susan married Euan Cooper-Ellis in 1945 and together they ran the gift shop. They bought in cheap souvenirs to sell to the holiday makers but Susan became frustrated wanting to buy more saleable objects that caught the customers eye. Her father had an association with the “Grays” factory well know today for Susie Cooper’s early designs. Susan found a copper plate depicting the picture of a lady in Welsh costume and sent this to the factory, Gray’s then produced an exclusive range of souvenirs for the gift shop from Susan’s design. From then on Susan designed many items including Portmeirion Dolphin – all the earlier pieces bear the yellow ship back stamp. Unfortunately the pottery was losing money and demand from Susan was high as she now had another shop owned by her and her husband in Pond Street, London. In 1960 Susan and Euan made the decision to buy the Grays factory in order for Susan to produce more designs. The following year another pottery was purchased, Kirkhams Ltd. This enabled Susan to concentrate on actually making pottery as well as designing. Kirkhams was very run down and needed modernising, once this was finished, the Grays pottery was sold, all the staff moved to the Kirkhams site and “The Portmeirion Potteries Ltd” was born. One of Susan’s first creations “Totem” was launched in 1963 and is highly sought after by collectors today, reasonably easy to find on the secondary market it was produced by cutting abstract shapes into the moulds. This particular design resulted in putting Portmeirion on the map. Such was the demand that Portmeirion had trouble keeping up with the orders. “Cypher” had been introduced along side “Totem” which again proved an instant hit! “Jupiter” a similar design but with a pattern or small circular shaped impressions was introduced in 1964. Both Cypher and Jupiter were in the shape of the new “Sherif” range. Unfortunately Jupiter had a problem in the glaze – it marked easily when used from certain acid substances such as fruit, so this was quickly discontinued. Examples of this design are now extremely hard to find. Other potteries began to copy the “Totem” design and sell at cheaper prices, causing Susan to come up with more design ideas and to bring the “Totem” range to an end. Samarkand was also available around this time, launched in 1965 again it was extremely popular. All of the early designs were produced in the cylinder shape which is easily recognisable to collectors of Portmeirion today “Magic City” produced in 1966 was probably the most popular design of its time and is extremely sought after by collectors eager to buy pieces on the secondary market, expect to pay from £70 upwards for a coffee pot in mint condition. It depicts scenes inspired by Susan’s travels and is also part of the “Sherif” range. “Magic Garden” introduced four years later was not as successful as “Magic City” but now collectors frantically try to find examples for their collections. Aztec and Phoenix amongst others were produced in the 1960s with usually gold, platinum and copper lustre designs on a black background. Extremely attractive and eye catching these too have a similar value as “Magic City” on the secondary market. The 1970s saw the creation of Pormeirion’s most collected and successful range to date, “Botanic Garden”. This design is transfer printed and is produced in the “Drum” shape. Originally launched in 1972, more than thirty years later this design is still in production and is the main stay of the pottery. Inspiration for this range was drawn from books purchased by Susan. The illustrator of the book “ Morals of Flowers” was William Clarke, a botanical painter; his drawings resulted in the patterns for the “Botanic Garden” range. Floral designs in this range include flowers such as Venus’s Fly Trap, Purple Iris, Spanish Gum Cistus, Honeysuckle, Speedwell and many more. All avid Portmeirion collectors know there are hundreds of different designs and shapes that it is almost impossible to cover all of them, this also applies to the designs in the Botanic Garden range. Rare items such as the Yellow Crown Imperial and Manchineel Tree plates can fetch in excess of £100 on the secondary market with collectors desperate to lay their hands on them. Stephen P McKay author of “Portmeirion Pottery” published by Richard Dennis publications says “Prices are all over the place at the moment due to world wide financial uncertainties. American Botanic Collectors are paying up to £100 for rare plates and the Double Camellia and Austrian Lilies are hitting £200 when they appear. Rare coffee pots are going for £70 to £150 for Magic Garden. All the above prices are typical for E-Bay and Antique fairs, you can still get bargains at local auctions and car boot sales if you can spare the time to look. ” With over forty years under its belt and going from strength to strength Portmeirion is without doubt one of the most successful potteries still in existence today. COLLECTORS CLUB There are dedicated collectors clubs for Botanic Garden as well as the general Portmeirion pieces. Collectors of Botanic Garden are predominantly ladies who have built up their collections over the years, adding new items as they are introduced and […]
‘Fairyland’ may not exist but the idea of an idyllic place inhabited by fairies, goblins and elves certainly is one that appeals to most children and even some adults. While Wedgwood Fairyland lustre ware may not be as unattainable, it is an unusual design and is sought after by collectors all over the world. Pictured right: A Wedgwood Fairyland lustre vase – decorated with the ‘Candlemas’ pattern, of gently tapering ovoid form, richly gilt and painted in colours with vertical bands of climbing elves and panels of fairies in a fantastical landscape, printed factory mark and painted number ‘Z5157/A’, 20cm high. Manufactured by the Wedgwood factory from 1915 to 1929 after original designs by Daisy Makeig-Jones (1881-1945), the ‘Fairyland’ line proved to be popular in the United States as well as in the UK. Credited with helping improve Wedgwood’s struggling profits, Makeig-Jones’ novel designs were far more than ‘pretty patterns’. Daisy Makeig-Jones prided herself on creating stories and hidden worlds with fantastical themes, using rich jewel-like colours and imaginative details. With expressive titles such as ‘Fairy Gondola’, ‘Butterfly Women’ and ‘Leap-frogging Elves’, her work appealed to the public possibly as they offered a form of escapism during the difficult post-war years. Wedgwood stopped the ‘Fairyland’ lustre ware line in 1929 due to an apparent lack of interest. Today the enthusiasm for Makeig-Jones’ work is as strong as it ever was, possibly even more so than when the designs were first introduced in the 1920s. Interest in the artist’s work has been further enhanced by various Art Deco exhibitions featuring examples of her work including one at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in September, 1990; an exhibition of ‘Wedgwood Fairyland and Other Lustres’ at the Long Beach Museum of Art, in September, 2001; and an exhibition comprising solely of her work from the Collection of Maurice Kawashima at the San Diego Museum of Art in 2005. Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre Price Guide A selection of realised prices form auction houses and auctions Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre For Sale Wedgwood Related Wedgwood Collecting Feature NOTICE – This site is not affiliated with Wedgwood TM. The purpose of these pages is to provide information to collectors of Wedgwood.
For collectors of Royal Doulton, Leslie Harradine is a well known name having designed some of the most famous and iconic Doulton figures including the Balloon Seller, Scotties, Sunshine Girl and the popular Dickens Series. He was prolific and modelled figures for Doulton from the late 1920s to the 1950s, as well as initially designing vases for the Lambeth Art Studios. His first figure for Doulton was Contentment with model number HN389. In 1929 he created another model Contentment featuring a Mother and Child sleeping (model HN1323). Although known as Leslie Harradine he was born Arthur Leslie Harradine in Lambeth to parents Charles Percy and Jessie Harradine (nee Tealby) in 1887. He first joined the Doulton Lambeth studio as an apprentice in 1902 working under George Tinworth, whilst at the same time studying at the Camberwell School of Arts. He initially worked in the studios on vases and Toby jugs, but his main interest was in clay sculpture and the design of free standing figures. His designs came to the attention of Charles Noke who was Art Director at the time but as he was not able to model figures as much as he wanted or to start his own factory he actually left Doulton in 1912 to start a farm with his brother Percy in Canada. Farming proved difficult, but when possible Leslie continued to create and paint models from clay. In 1916 Leslie and his brother Percy left Canada for the Great War. He was injured and whilst in hospital he met his future wife Edith Denton whom he married in 1917, and the following year became a father to his first child Jessie. Leslie and his family moved back to England in 1918 with the intention of opening a studio in London. Shortly after his return Charles Noke offered Leslie a job as a figure designer at the Burslem. However, the position was refused but eventually he agreed to work on a freelance basis and in 1920 his Royal Doulton figure entitled Contentment was released. Harradine modelled and created figures for Royal Doulton on a freelance basis for over forty years. He had a way of working peculiar to him and probably only allowed because of his undeniable talent and genius – he would decide what to model and when to send those models in to the factory at Burslem, sometimes up to three at a time, on a monthly basis. It is said that the other designers and painters would all gather round eagerly when his monthly shipment was unpacked to see what he had “come up with this time”. Many iconic and popular models were created, as well as series of models including those already mentioned earlier in the feature the Balloon Seller, Scotties, Sunshine Girl and the popular Dickens Series but also figures from his rendition of The Beggars Opera, and the famous and slightly risque models of The Bather. Many of Harradine’s models stayed in production for many years but some only for a year or two. These models are often the rarest and sometimes the most valuable. Harradine’s last model for Doulton was The Beggar with a model number HN2175 and was released in 1956 and was produced until 1962. Arthur ‘Leslie’ Harradine died on 6 December 1965, in Gibraltar at age 78, leaving an amazing legacy of models and designs that makes him one of the world’s finest modellers. Related George Tinworth – The Greatest Doulton Lambeth Designer
Most Wade collectors know the name of Faust Lang. They know that there were a number of figurines made before the Second World War, which now cost a small fortune, that were modelled by Faust Lang. They know that to discover an authentic Wade Faust Lang figure in perfect condition at a reasonable price would be a great ‘find.’ So just who was Faust Lang and what is so special about his figures? To see a figurine modelled by Faust Lang answers the second question as his models are so full of life and movement and always so very detailed. Unlike any other modeller who worked for Wade, Faust Lang modelled his figurines in wood, sometimes taking many weeks to complete a commission. In fact he never actually worked for Wade but was commissioned by them to produce his masterpieces. Faust Emanuel Lang was a Bavarian, born in Oberammergau in 1887, the son of Andreas Lang, a local wood carver.The beautiful town of Oberammergau is in southern Germany and probably best known for its Passion Play held there every ten years in commemoration of the town being delivered from a plague which decimated Europe in 1632. Both Faust and his father were players in the spectacular at various times but woodcarving was in their blood and it was in this that Faust excelled. In 1911 Faust married an English girl from Brtistol, two years his junior. They had met two years earlier when she was travelling through Europe with her mother and sister in a horse drawn caravan on an adventurous holiday. After their marriage Faust and Una spent the next twenty-two idyllic years together in Oberammergau and it was there that their only child, a son was born in 1925. During the 1st World War which started in 1914, Faust was a medical orderly in the German army and when he came home in 1918 the years were very hard with food shortages and rampant inflation. Faust was a keen sportsman and proficient skier whose relay team won a bronze medal at the first modern Winter Olympics held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1922. In the uncertain times of Germany in the 1930s and probably with the memories of the 1st World War still fresh in their minds, the family decided to move to England in 1934. They initially lived in Mawgan Porth near Newquay in North Cornwall moving to St Ives in 1950. Faust Lang became a British citizen in 1938. In 1938 Faust Lang met a certain Harry Adams, a Scotsman on holiday in Mawgan Porth who had a connection with Wade. Adams recommended Faust to the company who commissioned him to carve a series of what were to become amongst the most beautiful and prestigious figurines ever produced by Wade. The figures were finished in the ‘Copenhagen’ style. With the coming of the Second World War in September 1939, all giftware production was halted at the Wade factories and Faust Lang’s short but productive connection ended. In fact he had already completed a small bust of the thirties actress and singer Gracie Fields which although blocked and samples had been made, never went into production.Faust Lang joined the thriving artist’s colony in St Ives in 1950 and spent the rest of his life in England. He died in 1973 and is buried in St Ives. For more details and images please visit CS Collectables
A decade of tragedy; in the space of a few short years, almost ten million young men died on the battlefields of Europe, with 200,000 losing their lives on the fields of Flanders. Yet it was also a decade of triumph and creativity. Pictured right: Ernst Heubach 1910 bisque When King Edward VIII died in 1910, he was succeeded by his son George V and his wife. George’s elder brother had died of pneumonia in 1891, and so George not only took over as heir to the throne, he also appropriated his brother’s fiancée, Princess Victoria Mary of Teck. It seems to have been a happy marriage and by the time they were crowned in Westminster Abbey in 1911, they had six children, amongst them the future George VI, father of our present Queen Elizabeth. George V and Queen Mary (as she was now known) reigned for twenty-six years. Not long after Edward died, the skies were illuminated by a bright light when Halley’s comet made a spectacular reappearance. At one point the earth actually passed through its tail, causing the press to weave sensational tales of cyanide poisoning as the tail contained a poisonous gas. Naturally, it was a false alarm, though some people maintained it was a bad omen, nodding with satisfaction a few years later after two major disasters of the decade – the ‘Great War’ and the sinking of HMS Titanic – seemed to have proved them right. HMS Titanic was launched with great ceremony on 1911, but just a year later struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage and sunk with a loss of 1502 lives. Pictured left: Vectis Effanbee Miss Coquette 1912 During the earliest years of the decade, beautiful German dolls filled the toy shops. Manufacturers such as Simon & Halbig, Schoenau & Hoffmeister, Heubach and Armand Marseille produced vast numbers of bisque china dolls, often finely painted and exquisitely dressed. The Germans had cornered the market at this time, their faster production methods and flair for business gradually squeezing out the French dolls, but when the war started, there were importation restrictions on their goods, including dolls and toys, which meant British and ‘friendly’ countries needed to fill the breach. Pictured right: Vectis WW1 AM Sailor with medals Half-dolls were beginning to be popular during this decade, often referred to as ‘tea-cosy dolls’ or ‘pin cushion dolls’. Some of them were very delicate, made by famous porcelain manufacturers, and they topped items such as cakes, brushes, pin cushions, powder puffs and tea-cosies. In 1913 Mary Phelps Jacob, an American socialite, constructed the first brassiere from two silk hankies and some ribbon, to wear under a sheer evening gown. At last women could discard their restricting whale-boned corsets (though not without a fight by many shocked ladies). That same year, the zip fastener appeared, honed to perfection from a much earlier invention, as well as the crossword puzzle, which at last gave people something to do during their coffee break. And in 1915 a character was dreamed up by Johnny Gruelle, who would bring pleasure to generations of children – Raggedy Ann. Pictured left: Japanese Bisque Doll 1910 The assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand and his pregnant wife in Sarajevo 1914 was the trigger for hostilities to start. Young men rushed to sign up to fight, all believing it would be a bit of ‘harmless sport’ and be over by Christmas. It wasn’t, of course, and as those fresh-faced youths faced the horrors of the war trenches, their women folk back home had to take over the mens’ jobs in factories, banks, farms and businesses. They were also marshalled to act as auxiliary workers in the armed forces, so freeing the men-folk to fight at the front. The majority of the women had never worked before, and this was an unknown freedom. Not long after the end of the war, women over thirty were given the vote for which the suffragette movement had long been campaigning. The gap in the market due to the hostilities with Germany was swiftly filled by Japan who sent bisque and celluloid dolls to Britain. The majority of these dolls were crudely made of a coarse white bisque. Many little girls enjoyed assembling collections of the smaller dolls which were sold cheaply in toyshops and newsagents. Sometimes the dolls were made completely of bisque, but often their bodies were cloth. These unsophisticated Japanese dolls have a charm of their own, though some of their dolls were very fine and beautifully painted. Pictured right: Deans Rag Dolls Various patriotic dolls, often made from cloth, appeared during the war years, dressed in uniforms such as a ‘Tommy Atkins’ figure to represent a soldier. Sometimes a mother would dress a bisque doll for her child in a replica of her father’s uniform, as a reminder while Dad was fighting at the front. Britain tried to emulate the unavailable bisque German beauties but with little success, with manufacturers such as Goss making various china-headed dolls. Goss dolls were quite pricey, and once the war ended and German dolls were imported again, Goss ceased production. In 1917, the Russian Revolution had led to the abdication of the Tsar, Nicholas II. Refused refuge in Britain, he was murdered by the Bolsheviks six months later, along with his wife and children, as symbols of the old Russia. Over the years, several women have claimed to be Anastasia, the youngest child, who was rumoured to have survived the shooting. Other notable events included the invention of traffic lights in 1911 and parachutes in 1912. In 1919 speedy breakfasts were achieved by the creation of the pop-up toaster. Three years before, the first Women’s Institute in Britain was established in North Wales, while young girls were able to emulate their Boy Scout brothers in 1910 when the Girl Guides’ Association was founded by Sir Robert Baden-Powell. Six years later, he completed the hat-trick by founding the Cubs for younger boys. All in all, this was […]
Toys to Delight – Sugar and Spice Toys by Sue Brewer Is there a difference between girls’ toys and boys’ toys? Well, yes, quite often there is. Sometimes it’s a fairly obvious distinction; as a rule of thumb girls are given dolls, cradles, dolls’ houses, toy brooms, fluffy creatures with long hair and anything pink. Boys tend to be given trains, cars, guns, space toys, science kits and, most certainly, nothing pink! There are exceptions of course, and while children are small they aren’t so fussy; it’s only when they start nursery school that peer pressure dictates the toys they choose. Lots of toys are suitable for both sexes; puzzles, board games, Lego, Fuzzy Felt, puppets and tricycles for example, though even then there can be differences. Puzzles might feature either a girlie picture of fairies or a boy-appealing ferocious dinosaur while Fuzzy Felt will be ballet or pirates. Even Lego can be girl-orientated when it contains pink bricks and small dolls. Of course, the classic toy for a girl is a doll; from earliest times it was assumed that the woman’s role in life was to care for babies and to create a home while man was the hunter or worker. Even today, when women have far more freedom and independence, and are increasingly taking over occupations once regarded as male, small girls are still given dolls. Look round any toyshop dolls of all kinds, from babies to fashion and fairies to mermaids predominate, usually sold in pink boxes or wearing pink sparkly outfits. Many girls’ toys are traditional “ our great grandmothers, even their great grandmothers, might have played with some of them. Things such as toy sewing machines, skipping ropes, tea sets, knitting sets, dolls’ prams, music boxes, clockwork dolls and tinkle tonks. The greatest revolution in toys began just after the Second World War, and was caused by the plastics explosion. Plastics transformed the toy industry “ at last there was a material which was light, colourful, versatile, easy to mould and difficult to break. A further explosion took place in the 1980s with the introduction of ‘collectable series toys’, following on the heels of the Star Wars toys of the late 1970s suddenly manufacturers discovered an exciting way of earning more money. By issuing toys in sets, children would need to buy several before they could satisfactorily play with them. My Little Pony was one of the most popular of the new lines, though many parents and teachers loathed the pastel pink creatures which, they believed, had no play value at all. The ponies had no moving parts, so it just seemed that their young owners combed and plaited the manes and tails. Yet that wasn’t strictly true as most girls created their own imaginative story lines, building up pon y worlds as they bought more and more ponies with names such as Cotton Candy, Applejack and Blossom. Over the years, dozens of different types of ponies made their appearance, often with special features such as rainbow or glittery manes, sparkling eyes, sleep eyes, transparent bodies, thick curly tails, scented or musical. Some featured translucent wings or magic heat-appearing motifs. There were clumpy male cart-horse types, unicorns, sea-horses, flutter ponies (very fragile, with delicate wings which soon broke) and Pegasus ponies too, all made by Hasbro, who had certainly struck gold with this product. Also on the scene in the 1980s was the ‘World of Strawberry Shortcake’, a large range of dolls and accessories, the most popular being a series of scented small dolls, 5Â½ inches high, with slightly overlarge heads. Jointed at the hips, neck and shoulders, each doll was marked ‘American Greetings Corps. 1979′. Strawberry Shortcake and her friends were sold by Kenner, though some were issued through Palitoy. Each character had its own hair colour or style, and, of course, a special fruit perfume so that they smelt of their name. By 1982 there were fourteen little dolls in the range, all with delicious names such as Lime Chiffon, Raspberry Tart, Lemon Meringue, Angel Cake, Apricot, Cherry Cuddler, Butter Cookie, Apple Dumpling, Orange Blossom and Strawberry Shortcake herself. The dolls came with their own pets, and had accessories such as houses, vehicles and shops. This same decade saw Rainbow Brite, Care Bears, Moon Dreamers, Flower Fairies, Sylvanian Families, Fairy Tails and Lady LovelyLocks â€“ all toys carefully designed so that a child needed several of them, plus the various accessories, in order to obtain the maximum play value. Of all the character toys, perhaps Sylvanian Familes was the most successful, offering maximum play value. The little animals first arrived in Britain in 1987 though were copyrighted in 1985; a selection of mice, bear, rabbit and racoon families. They were made by Epoch in Japan, and distributed by Tomy. The two main families were the bears, the Evergreens and the Timbertops, each with ten members, and the adult characters stood around 3.5 inches high. The youngsters were slightly smaller. Nowadays there are dozens of different creatures in the range from penguins to moles. Sylvanian Families are still sold today, now made by Flair, and the buildings and accessories are particularly sturdy and well designed. Many of the pieces of furniture and smaller items are bought by adults who use them in their own dolls’ houses! Dolls houses have been popular for centuries; although most are made for young girls, many have been created for adult collectors. At Windsor Castle is a spectacular dolls’ house which was originally made for Queen Mary in the 1920s, and it is packed with valuable treasures such as miniature hand-written books by famous authors, and tiny items of furniture created by craftsmen. More recently, dolls’ houses have taken a new form, with toys such as Palitoy’s Treehouse, the Matchbox Play Boot and Bluebird’s iconic Big Yellow Teapot, whilst Fisher Price have produced several designs including the Fisher Price A-Frame and a Tudor Style House. Young girls take great delight in imitating their mothers; they love toy vacuum […]
Released during the Great War from 1915-1919 was an impressive set of eleven toby jugs based on the Allied Political and Military leaders by Wilkinson after designs and caricatures by Sir Francis Carruthers Gould. Each of the figures holds an item or is an item and has associated words e.g. Lloyd George holds a cannon shell with the words Shell Out on it (full list below). The set is extremely well designed, made and coloured and each molded figure was polychrome enameled and gilded. The features the retailers mark Soane & Smith, who were based in Knightsbridge. Lord Kitchener, holding a jug inscribed ‘Bitter for the KAISER’, 25cm high Admiral Beatty, holding a shell inscribed ‘Dread Nought’, 26.5cm high Field Marshall Haig, seated upon a tank, titled ‘Push and Go’ to the base, 27cm high Admiral Jellicoe, holding a jug inscribed ‘Hell Fire Jack’, 26cm high Marshall Joffre, holding a shell inscribed ’75mm Ce Que Joffre’, 25.5cm high Lord French, holding a jug inscribed ‘French Pour Les Francais’, 26cm high Lloyd George, holding a shell titled ‘Shell Out!’, 25cm high Marshall Foch holding a champagne bottle inscribed ‘Au Diable Le Kaiser’, 31.5cm high General Botha, holding a jug inscribed ‘Loyalty’, 26.5cm high Woodrow Wilson, with an aeroplane on his lap, the base inscribed ‘Welcome! Uncle Sam’, 27cm high King George V, holding a globe, the base inscribed ‘Pro Patria’, 30cm high A fabulous and rare set not often seen for sale as a full set.