Marc Davis – Disney Legend by Tawnya Gilreath Marc Davis is probably the world’s most beloved unknown man. Marc’s fabulous career spans over 60 years, including 43 years at Disney. In 1988, Marc was officially designated a “Living Legend” by The Walt Disney Company which is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a Disney artist. Many of Marc’s creations such as Cinderella, Tinker Bell, Sleeping Beauty, Cruella de Vil and the beloved skunk Flower are fond memories for people throughout the world. Disney utilized Marc’s humor and storytelling abilities in many of their most popular theme park rides. His contributions to It’s A Small World, The Haunted Mansion, and The Pirates of the Caribbean have enchanted millions of visitors. His talent is timeless and future generations will surely cherish his genius as we do today. In addition to being the world’s foremost animator and theme park designer, Marc is also an adventurer and an explorer. He has created hundreds of sketches and paintings of the people and cultures he encountered during his travels. Marc was so intrigued by the art and culture of Papua New Guinea that he created over 400 works of art which capture forever the beauty and mystery of this disappearing world. Since Marc is also an avid collector, he has a special affinity for collectors and understands the difficulties in building an outstanding collection. That is why he has agreed to open his vaults to The Official Marc Davis Collectors Society. From time to time Marc will hand pick previously unavailable works of art that will be made available to members only. All works will be numbered and signed for limited distribution. The Marc Davis Collectors Society is both the key and the vehicle through which Marc Davis treasures will be made available to the public. The organization has a charter that allows only 5,000 founding members worldwide making the membership itself a collector’s item. Founding members receive a hand-signed print of the “Jolly Roger”, a pirate character which Marc and Walt Disney considered for their walk-in attraction, The Pirates of the Caribbean, before it became the ride. This rare item will never be available through normal Disney channels in any form. A one-time membership fee of $275 secures your lifetime membership into this exclusive organization. Benefits include quarterly newsletters, a membership card and certificate, and an invitation to the annual convention. Whether you are a Disney buff or a fine art collector this is the opportunity of a lifetime. To join the Marc Davis Collectors Society or to learn more about Marc’s life and works, visit The Official Marc Davis Collectors Society web site. Membership may also be procured by calling (818) 347-4837 or fax to (818) 347-4793.
Bengo collectables have become increasingly sought after by those of us who, as children, followed his simple, hand-drawn adventures
The Fulper Pottery Company was founded in Flemington, New Jersey in 1899 by Charles Fulper and his sons. However, the pottery had existed since 1815 when the first pottery was created by Samuel Hill. The pottery initially produced a wide variety of utilitarian ware, and drain tiles and storage crocks and jars from Flemington’s red earthenware clay. In 1847 Dutchman Abraham Fulper, an employee since the 1820s became Hill’s partner. He later took over the company. It was not until the early 1900s when William Hill Fulper II (1870-1953) started to experiment with colored glazes and the company started to create some of the art pottery it is famed for. Fulper is credited with inventing the dry-body slip glaze, which was used to create colorful designs on his pottery. He also developed a method of using electric kilns to fire his glazes, which resulted in brighter and more consistent colors. Fulper Pottery’s Vasekraft line was inspired by the work of German potter John Martin Strangl. The line includes a wide variety of vases, bowls, and other vessels, all with Strangl’s signature clean lines and simple forms. The company is especially known for the Fulper lamps-with glazed pottery shades inset with colored glass-were truly innovative forms. The firm’s most spectacular and innovative accomplishments are the table lamps made with glazed pottery bases and shades, which were inset with pieces of colored opalescent glass. These were produced from about 1910-1915 and are very rare, especially in perfect order. William Hill Fulper II was also an excellent advertiser and marketeer and Fulper’s Vasekraft products were sold throughout the United States in the most prestigious department stores and gift shops. Fulper’s pottery was exhibited at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, where it received a gold medal. His work is also included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. During its first twenty-five years, Fulper Pottery was particularly known for its flambé glazes, which were heavily influenced by Chinese and Japanese ceramic traditions. These glazes, which resulted in vibrant and often unexpected colors, helped to establish Fulper Pottery’s reputation for innovative and high-quality art pottery. After World War I, Fulper Pottery began to shift away from its Germanic roots and move towards more Oriental-inspired forms. The company’s designers began to experiment with new shapes and glazes, inspired by the Art Deco movement that was sweeping Europe at the time. The Vasekraft name was changed to Fulper Pottery Artware. These new pieces were softer and more graceful than the functional stoneware that Fulper had been producing up until that point, and they proved to be very popular with the public. In the 1920s, Fulper Pottery was one of the leading producers of Art Deco ceramics in the United States. The company’s designers created a wide range of vases, lamps, and other objects that were both beautiful and stylish. Fulper’s pieces were featured in some of the most prestigious design magazines of the day, and they were popular with both collectors and everyday consumers. In 1925, Charles Fulper died, and his sons took over the operation of the pottery. Under their leadership, Fulper Pottery continued to experiment with new glazes and firing techniques. They also began to produce a line of dinnerware, which was very popular during the Depression-era. The Great Depression hit Fulper Pottery hard, as it did many other businesses. The company was forced to lay off a large number of employees and cut back on production. However, Fulper’s designers continued to experiment with new ideas, and the company managed to survive the difficult economic times. William Hill Fulper II died suddenly in 1928. The company continued to be run with Martin Stangl as President. In 1935, Fulper Pottery Artware production was ceased at the small remaining Flemington location, and that building was utilized solely as a retail showroom for the company’s ceramic products. After 1935, the company continued to be Fulper Pottery, but produced only Stangl Pottery brand dinnerware and artware. Related Fulper Pottery at Auction American Pottery at WCN
Having already attained the accolade and recognition for being France’s premier jeweller, by 1905 Rene Lalique had begun to focus his attention to the possibilities of commercial art glass. Additional impetus came in 1907 after being approached by Francois Coty, the celebrated parfumier, and his neighbour in the fashionable Place Vendome. Coty asked Lalique to design the embossed gilt paper labels for various perfumes, whereupon legend has it that Lalique took umbrage and only agreed on the strict understanding that he was also commissioned to design the actual glass bottles. In agreeing to this demand Coty could hardly imagine how this would send his business into a veritable overdrive, such was the response and increase in demand for those perfumes retailed in bottles designed by Lalique. At this time such bottles were manufactured by Legras et Cie as Lalique did not then have the sizeable glassworks needed for mass production, although Coty had also used the services of the Baccarat factory in previous years. The dramatic success of this venture resulted in a growing procession of recognised perfume companies approaching Lalique in the quest of emulating their competitor’s success. Such pre war commissions came from household names such as Roger et Gallet, Worth, D’Orsay, Arys and Rosine amongst others. Today these early bottles are keenly sought after by collectors as they manage to encapsulate their designer’s uncanny ability of transforming a utilitarian object into a desirable work of art. Such vessels allowed him to develop designs that borrowed from nature whilst making great play of both the mystical and magical elements readily evident in such Coty commissions as ‘Cyclamen’ and L’Effleurt de Coty (The caress of Coty), with the former later reworked with two additional forms of button stopper. Lalique soon recognised that the demand for stylish perfume bottles was big enough for his own ‘Maison Lalique’ creations that were available for the purchaser to then fill with an essence of their own liking. The combined ranges became so extensive that many collectors are content to restrict their collections to just perfume bottles. Initially he had made use of a small glass furnace located on his country estate at Clairfontaine on the outskirts of Paris, but the increase in demand dictated that he should acquire a larger facility. In 1909 he purchased a much larger concern at Combs la Ville that allowed for greater mass production with an estimated workforce of about 50-100 craftsmen and where output continued until closure until 1937. However it was the setting up in 1921 of the present day glassworks in Wingen sur Moder near to Strasbourg in the Alsace region of eastern France that allowed production on a truly grand scale, this time with a workforce that exceeded 500. Rene Lalique might be recognised as a designer who invariably thought ‘out of the box’ and one who recognised the almost limitless possibilities offered by such an elastic medium. In years gone by he has, on the odd occasion, suffered the indignation of having his creations labelled as nothing more than moulded glass. Fortunately, with the passage of time, collectors and design historians alike give a secondary consideration to the method of production and now place primary importance on both design and effect. Lalique was to show himself to be the absolute master of exploring the potential of glass whilst ready to embrace the growing technology and chemical science that allowed him to invariably remain several steps ahead of any would-be competition. The publication in 1932 of his illustrated trade catalogue, reprinted in recent years and an essential for collectors and enthusiasts, manages to give some indication of the sheer variety available to the discerning public of those interwar years. Within the pages, alongside the perfume bottles, can be found boxes, sculptures, paperweights, car mascots, clocks, lighting and all manner of tableware, dishes, bowls, architectural fittings and even glass jewellery. Perhaps the most readily available and affordable, depending on size and colour, are his vases, bowls and dishes, which are amongst the majority of his wares that tend to surface in many of today’s auctions. Desirability here is also decided by rarity and the all important condition of a piece. Having no wish to scaremonger it is worth pointing out that the present day market place has its fair share of repaired or doctored pieces. Consequently it is always prudent to purchase from a respected dealer or auction house. As a broad generalisation, unless considered a rare design, simple clear and frosted glass examples tend to be the least desirable. The addition of coloured staining or ‘patine’ helps to accentuate the definition of a design and adds both to the attraction and value. Again, another word of caution, as some pieces have been subjected to modern day staining. In order to determine old from new it is essential to build up an understanding of the original staining used as well as be aware that such early stains were liable to wear, whereas the modern colours have so far proved permanent. Opalescent glass, i.e. the inclusion of an internal milky blue effect that is invariably synonymous with Lalique glass, is more desirable, with value often enhanced by the intensity of the internal colouration. The overall effect is determined by the thickness of the glass that plays host to a chemical reaction that occurs during the cooling process. Lalique is known to have preferred the use of a demi-cristal which incorporated half the usual 24% of lead oxide used by makers of lead crystal such as St Louis and Baccarat. Demi-cristal offered a less white and softer grey hue to the metal – glass is actually a super cooled liquid but technically referred to as a ‘metal’. It also allowed for greater definition when using expensive steel moulds and was relatively lighter than lead crystal. The milky blue effect was all down to incorporating a tiny amount of cobalt oxide into the glass mix plus two specific fluorites that acted as opacifying agents. When heated, the […]
Maria Longworth Nichols Storer founded Rookwood Pottery in 1880 as a way to market her hobby – the painting of blank tableware.
William Moorcroft might be said to have been born in the right place at the right time, with the benefit of an incredible ability to master all the skills needed to ensure that his business prospered no matter what the economic climate of the times. He was born in Burslem in 1872 and educated at Longport Hall School prior to becoming a student at the Burslem School of Art. His considerable artistic talent led to a move to London where, in 1896, he studied at the National Art Training School, later renamed The Royal College of Art. Young William made good use of his time in the capital by deciding to make an extensive study of both ancient and relatively contemporary ceramics displayed in the British Museum and the South Kensington Museum. We recognise the latter today as the Victoria and Albert Museum. The following year he was awarded his Art Master’s certificate which would normally attract most students towards a career teaching art. However our Mr Moorcroft had set his sights on becoming a potter and, as the fates would have it, was offered the position of designer by the china and earthenware manufacturers James Macintyre and Company of the Washington works in Burslem. He wasn’t slow to see the god sent opportunity and showed no hesitation in eagerly accepted the vacant situation. The pottery made all manner of both relatively mundane utilitarian and decorative ware including artist’s palettes, door furniture and art pottery, alongside insulators and switchgear for the emerging electrics industry. In 1893 the company had enlisted the services of Harry Barnard, the well-respected designer and modeller formerly employed at Doulton’s Lambeth studio, in a bid to introduce art pottery into their repertoire. He was given the task of developing a range of ware that made use of a pate sur pate type of decoration that involved the building up of layers of slip in low relief. The method of decoration had already been well established and perfected at the nearby Stoke factory of Minton and Co. by the former Sevres decorator Louis Solon. James Macintyre decided to name their new designs “Gesso Faience”, but regrettably for Barnard it failed to excite would-be buyers and he eventually moved down the hill to Josiah Wedgwood’s Etruria factory where he continued to develop slip decoration whilst his career underwent a renaissance. Moorcroft’s earliest designs were registered in 1898 and made use of under glaze cobalt blue complemented with iron red on glaze and gilt decoration that enhanced his new and inventive shapes, being retailed under the trade name of “Aurelian Ware”. William’s obvious childhood passion for nature and flora is evident in his treatment and choice of formalised repeated designs, which show a real synergy with the then all-important mentor of many a young art student–William Morris. Undeterred by the failure of “Gesso Ware” Moorcroft recognised the potential offered by slip-trailed decoration and set about producing Arts and Crafts’ inspired floral decoration married to imaginative organic forms. As a result his “Florian Ware”, launched in 1898, established William Moorcroft as the most exciting designer in British ceramics, able to produce in quantity contemporary designs that managed to embrace the traditional Arts and Crafts hand produced ethic. This ethic was promoted initially by Morris and later by the various Guilds that had sprung up in both Britain and the United States of America. As far as Messer’s Macintyre were concerned the most important outcome was that they had struck gold with young Moorcroft and found a highly distinctive art pottery that generated good income. William’s fertile imagination offered a regular flow of quite oftenbreathtaking designs over the next fifteen years that were not entirely limited to all things floral. In 1902 William had produced a design featuring Japanese ornamental Carp specifically for the London retailer, Osler. The firm soon became synonymous with a distinctive palette painted in tones of blue and mauve within slip trailed outlines; such vases carried a “Hesperian Ware” back stamp with other subject matter including Butterflies. That same year that saw the introduction of the first landscape design composed of a frieze of tall trees set amongst an undulating countryside and adapted to fit a variety of vases and dishes of differing size. Eventually labelled “Hazledene” the design proved especially popular through the premier retail outlet of Liberty and Co. William’s friendship with Arthur Lasenby Liberty was eventually to prove of significant importance in 1913 when Macintyre and Co. decided to concentrate upon the lucrative electrical fittings market. With space at their Washington pottery at a premium they decided to close down their art pottery concern and part company with William Moorcroft. It is a matter of debate amongst present day Moorcroft authorities as to whether or not the two parties came to an amicable separation that saw William building his own ‘state of the art’ factory in nearby Sandbach Road, Cobridge, interestingly aided and abetted by the Liberty and Co. connection. New patterns were quickly introduced including utilitarian tableware using a porcellaneous body similar to that used by Macintyre in their electrical output and referred to initially as Blue Porcelain. The speckled blue tableware was a much-needed success that soon became synonymous with Liberty and Co.’s New Tudor Tearooms where it was known as “Moorcroft Blue”. The advent of the First World War led to an increase in export trade allied with government commissions to produce shaving mugs and hospital inhalers for the war effort, thereby allowing William to retain much of his workforce. However, it was in the post war years that he was able to consolidate his position and develop his reputation for producing richly coloured wares that continued to draw upon floral, fruit and landscape inspiration. Unquestionably the most successful design of the interwar years has to be his “Pomegranate” pattern, having been initially introduced in1910. The earliest examples display distinct buff reserves that by the 1920s had given way to deep cobalt blue, and the commercial success of the company […]
Mustard has been around as a condiment for over two thousand years but the first mustard pots appeared in the early 18th century when mustard started to be used in a mixture paste with spices and vinegar. This created a need for specialised pots to be used as container for the selling of mustard by grocers and for use on the dining table. Mustard pots popularity as collectables has grown in recent years. Many people enjoy collecting mustard pots because they are relatively easy to find and many are fairly inexpensive. Plus, they make a great addition to any kitchen décor! The feature also look at some examples along with auction prices and price guide. Mustard pots come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can be found made from different materials including earthenware, stoneware, porcelain and glass. Some are very ornate, while others are more plain. Those offered at grocers were larger than those used on the dining table, and are some of the earliest forms of commercial packaging often being branded such as Colmans. The mustard pots for the dining table were smaller, with many being made of silver or silver plate in the shape of a drum or boat, with an inner liner where the mustard would reside. The liner was often Bristol Blue. The silver and silver plate example are often elaborate with fretting and piercing. The pots would come with a matching mustard spoon and later might often some as part of a complete condiment set. If you’re thinking about starting a mustard pot collection, there are a few things you should know. First, it’s important to research the different types of mustard pots available. This will help you narrow down your choices and find the pots that best suit your taste. Once you’ve decided on the type of mustard pot you’d like to collect, it’s time to start shopping! Antique stores, garage sales, and online auction sites are all great places to find mustard pots. Just be sure to inspect the pot carefully before making a purchase, as some may be in poor condition. Finally, it’s important to properly care for your mustard pots. Store them in a cool, dry place. With a little bit of love and attention, your mustard pots will last for many years to come! Related Exhibits at the National Mustard Museum
Britain is a nation of gardeners; I’ve heard that 80% of houses in Britain have private gardens, covering an area twice as large as Surrey. That’s fifteen million gardens in our green and pleasant land. Every weekend sees thousands of us making our way to garden centres, where we choose plants, bulbs, seeds and sundries to try to make our garden beautiful. Slugs, aphids and caterpillars eat most of them, but gardeners are a tolerant bunch – it’s not just the plants, it’s the general feeling of well-being and of feeling at one with nature which urges us to plunge our hands into the soil to embed yet another plant into the ground. Pictured right: Alpine Strawberry by Roy Kirkham plate Some of us build conservatories, or maybe garden shelters, so that we can use the garden as an extension of our homes even when the weather is inclement. We dot ornaments around the flower beds, nesting boxes and insect homes along the garden walls and we build ponds and fountains so birds can bathe. When we dine in the garden, we use floral plates, butterfly-decorated glasses, flowery cutlery – and all these things can be deemed collectable, whether you use vintage pieces or go for modern or retro designs. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can still create a garden feel indoors by collecting items with a floral or naturalistic theme. I’ve known people who have created an indoor garden by displaying pretty flowered plates against white wall-mounted trellis and hanging a few indoor plants to enhance the effect. Another way of ‘garden collecting’ is to collect old gardening items, from tools to seed packets, and from statues to lawnmowers. The most obvious choice for garden collectables is probably the well-known ‘Botanic Garden’ range of tableware made by Portmeirion pottery. Portmeirion, though, have produced many other beautiful designs which would look stunning at an alfresco meal. Pictured right: 1980s Portmeirion British Birds One of my personal favourites is the ‘British Birds’ design, based on illustrations from the Natural History of British Birds by Edward Donovan, published in 1794. Forty birds were featured in the collection, and because the designs are in a antiquated style the pieces have a timeless quality about them, which is probably why they have remained in production for so long. This pattern was originally conceived in 1974, and sadly is not now sold in Britain, though is still available in America. I acquired my items in the 1980s when visiting the shop in Portmeirion village, but pieces do crop up at collector’s fairs. Pictured left: Portmeirion Strawberry Fair I’m also very fond of the ‘Strawberry Fair’ decoration – perfect for serving scones on a summer’s day – and the ‘Pomona’ design of varieties of fruits. There are many other Portmeirion designs with a ‘garden’ theme, amongst them the recent ‘Hungry Caterpillar’ which is based on the popular picture book by Eric Carle. Incidentally, if you are visiting North Wales, do try to visit the village of Portmeirion. The pottery isn’t made there, though there is a shop selling the current range – but the village is stunningly quirky. It’s as though a slice of a sleepy Italian village has been deposited on a beautiful stretch of Welsh coastline; it’s a restful place and one of my all-time special spots. Pictured right: Meakin Poppy Jug 1960s Many ranges of tableware from the 1960s and 70s employed the flower motif – these were the days of flower power. Think Meakin, for the delicate pink floral ‘Filigree’ design, or the more bold ‘Poppy’, while ‘Topic’, with its blue stylised flowers is classic 60s elegance. Even more stylised is the swirling 1960s ‘Spanish Garden’ from Midwinter, while their ‘Country Garden’, with its pattern of leaves and buds symmetrically curling from either side of a large blue and pink flower, is beautiful. It would be impossible to mention all the floral ranges – practically every manufacturer of tableware has included a floral design at one time – but they range from delicate chintz type patterns to vibrant, bold roses. Pictured left: 1960s Meakin Filigree & Viners Love Story Floral china is perfect for a meal in the garden on a summer’s day, and can be themed with pretty cutlery, such as the 1960s’ Viner’s ‘Love Story’ which bears a design of tiny silver daisies. Don’t forget glasses; there are plenty of beautiful designs to look out for, both vintage and modern, featuring flowers, leaves or butterflies. You could look out for a suitable vintage tablecloth, too – ‘lazy daisy’ stitch was very popular in the 1930s, 40s and 50s and will complement your garden theme. If you’re worried about risking your treasured china in the garden, then there are plenty of modern plastic pieces around – and some, such as the gorgeous retro sixties floral designs which Asda came up not so long ago, might even become future classics! As well as tablecloths, other fabric items can be used outside including cushions, throws and canopies; look out for vintage patterns, such as the large-flowered round-petalled daisy types from the 1960s and the bold flowered orange and deep green 1970s’ designs. It’s best, though, to bring them in at night as they could get damp, and also not to keep them in the sunlight for too long, in case they fade. Floral handbags and scarves, or wicker shopping baskets and hampers look good artlessly dotted around at a garden party or a get-together. They add an element of fun, and are a great way of displaying a collection of traditional or retro items. I’m a Simon Drew fan – he is an artist with a quirky sense of humour. He’s based at Dartmouth where he has a shop and gallery, and many of his designs are based on puns such as a ‘receding hare’ or ‘joined up whiting’. Some of his garden themes, including ‘Incapability Brown’ have been featured in a range of ‘bug proof’ mugs. They come […]
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/
The term Victoriana covers a vast and interesting group of generally low-priced, mass produced wares, typical of the period. Pictured left: A pair of mid 19th C Victorian Staffordshire spill vases. Image Copyright Bonhams. Such wares as Staffordshire chimney ornaments and printed pot lids can still be found at a relatively low price and have a certain unpretentious charm, lacking in the costly porcelains of the period. A wide range of Staffordshire earthenware figures was produced throughout the Victorian era. These figures were manufactured by means of simple plaster of Paris moulds, the original design being kept as simple as possible to facilitate the rapid and cheap production of these pieces. All Staffordshire figures of this type were made in a white earthenware body, with the exception of some rare early models occasionally produced in porcelain. It is an exception to find a marked specimen. During recent years many collections have been formed and research carried out on the many named historical portrait figures in this category. The named portraits cover almost every field, from Queen Victoria down to notorious murderers and included a long series of War heroes and politicians. Many of these can naturally be dated to within a few years. While these historical figures have a special interest, they also have a drawback in that they are being keenly sought after and tend to be correspondingly expensive. Pictured right: A pair of mid 19th C Victorian Staffordshire cottages and covers. Sold at Bonhams for £348, Knowle 2010. Image Copyright Bonhams. Vast scope still exists for the collection of the untitled purely Victorian sentimental figures and groups which prove so decorative, even in the most modern decorative schemes. Charming animals, cottages and castles (often watch stands) were also produced and can still be acquired at a modest price. Although these wares are generally attributed to the lesser Staffordshire potters, many examples were produced in other regions some of the Scottish manufacturers issued many models, including typical Scottish fishergirls. Of the Staffordshire manufacturers, Messrs. Sampson Smith were undoubtedly the foremost producers of these cheap decorative wares. Pictured left: A pair of mid 19th C Victorian Staffordshire spaniel chimney dogs. Sold for at Bonhams for £96, Knowle, 2007. Image Copyright Bonhams. Other types of Staffordshire earthenware include the wellknown dogs made in various patterns. These ” Staffordshire dogs” were made over a long period, the chief manufacturers being Messrs. Sampson Smith of Longton and William Machin of Hanley some late examples being produced by John Sadler of Burslem. In the late 1840’s various patents were taken out by Felix Pratt (and others) for the rapid manufacture and improved method of decorating pot lids, etc., and multi-coloured underglaze printing was introduced successfully for the first time on a commercial scale. The process called for a series of different copper plates each transferring one particular colour on to the transfer paper until the complete picture was built up. This method naturally depended on accurate registration or positioning of each successive copper plate. The Pratt coloured prints quickly became popular, a range of objects decorated in this manner was included in the 1851 Exhibition. Perhaps the best known examples are the ” Pot” Lids, to be found decorated with a vast number of different patterns. Dessert sets, vases, teasets, tankards, etc., were also produced and decorated by this method and offer interesting scope to collectors seeking colourful and reasonably priced wares. Specimens are to be found bearing the signature of Jesse Austin (b. 1806 d. 1879) who was Pratt’s chief engraver for over 30 years and who worked on this specialised type of multi-coloured printing. Pictured right: Mid 19th C Victorian Staffordshire recumbent cats. Sold at Bonhams for £312, Edinburgh 2013. Image Copyright Bonhams. Jesse Austin had earlier been apprenticed at the Davenport Works. He joined Messrs. F. & R. Pratt & Co. at Longton circa 1845. For a brief period he joined Messrs. Brown-Westhead, Moore & Co. after a misunderstanding with Pratts, but soon rejoined them and continued to engrave for F. & R. Pratt until his death in 1879. Apart from original compositions by Austin, many celebrated paintings from both English and Continental sources were reproduced on Pratts earthenware. Other manufacturers made use of this process, noticeably Brown-Westhead, Moore, T. J. & J. Mayer and G. L. Ashworth. The heading” Victoriana “permits the writer to digress and mention some of the other interesting aspects of Victorian ceramics. Parian figures and groups can often be found bearing inscriptions relating to ” Art Unions.” The most important of these was the ” Art Union of London ” founded in 1836. In return for an annual subscription each member was entitled Parian bust of the Prince of Wales, issued by the Crystal Palace Art Union, Circa 1864. to participate in an annual draw the top prizes being works of art (chiefly paintings from Royal Academy Exhibitions) valued at some hundreds of pounds. Other prizes of low value designed by the foremost designers were awarded on a large scale. Pictured left: A Collection of Pratt Ware Pot Lids and Other Victorian Pot Lids. Image Copyright Bonhams. The Art Union movement gained in popularity and was legalised by Act of Parliament in 1846 having previously contravened the laws relating to Lotteries. Various smaller Art Unions were formed, notably the Crystal Palace Art Union. Prince Albert gave the Unions every encouragement. “feeling assured that these institutions will exercise a most beneficial influence on the Arts.” This was indeed the case; the Art Union of London was instrumental in popularising the new parian body, the reproductions of famous sculptured figures and groups in this body being especially suited to the requirements of the Art Union as the copies were cheap and easy to reproduce in quantity. Many special works were commissioned by the Art Unions who, at the peak of their popularity, had vast sums of money at their disposal. Their ceramic interests were not limited to parian wares, prizes in ” Majolica” and the normal pottery and porcelain bodies were commissioned and […]