by John Hall
whimsey a small fanciful object or trinket created by a glass-blower or potter
Wade Whimsies first appeared in 1953 and were a product of the need
for new retail lines as the Wade potteries lost contracts in their
traditional industrial ceramics market. The result was a series of
miniature porcelain animal models. Wade had produced a miniature
figure series in the 1930s and the Whimsies were thought to be a good
marketing idea. They became popular very quickly being affordable,
extremely cute and collectable.
The Whimsies initially came in boxes of four and five. Ten sets were
produced up till 1959 and then Wade stopped general production,
but continued manufacturing Whimsies as promotional premiums given away
with various products. There popularity endured and in 1971 Wade began
to market the Whimsies as a retail line again.
Unlike the earlier series, the new sets came in individual boxes, although
it was still possible to purchase a full set packaged together.
12 sets were produced up until 1980, and production continued until
1984 when the Whimsies were again taken off the market.
A total of 109 Whimsies were produced in 22 main sets. The first sets ranged
from a general selection to themed boxes such as pedigree dogs, farm
animals, zoo animals, North American animals, and polar animals. The
second series had similar themes along with birds, big cats and sea
creatures. It has been noted that the quality of the second series
is below that of the first, with slightly less detail and poorer
Whimsies have become quite collectable with the majority of the second series
fairly easy to come by and still not very expensive. The rarest of the
second series is the Sea Horse. The Whimsies from the earlier first series are
more difficult to locate and hence are more valuable. Some of the more
collectable pieces from this series are the Swan and Shire Horse.