Charlotte Rhead is well known for her Art Deco and colourful designs and in this feature we take a look at Charlotte Rhead tiles. Charlotte Rhead created a great number of tike designs ranging from buildings, landscapes, sea scapes, animals, and people especially women. Each tile was unique and tube-lined by hand, then decorated and then glazed. Some tiles are seen to be collaborations with other designers including Charlotte’s own father Frederick Rhead.
Who was L Rhead?
Many of Charlotte Rhead’s signed pieces are signed L Rhead. The L is for Lottie Rhead (a shortened form of Charlotte).
Charlotte Rhead Tiles price guide
Below are a selection of Charlotte Rhead tiles sold at auction. There are great variations between prices which relate to when the item were sold, the subject matter and the condition.
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You see them every day. They fasten your shirt together, hold your pants up, and maybe make a fashion statement on your new sweater. Buttons! Almost everyone has some buttons stashed away in a box or jar. They can be plain and simple, or truly elegant works of art. Due to our natural hoarding instincts, buttons find their way into nooks and crannies in our homes. It is time for them to step up and take their rightful place as a popular collectible. History of Buttons Buttons have been in use for hundreds of years. In very early times, clothing was fastened with ties or pins, but gradually toggles and buttons as we know them came to be in use. Many ancient burials have included buttons or button-like objects. In the Early and Middle Bronze Age, large buttons were primarily used to fasten cloaks. By the 13th century, buttons were widely in use, mainly as decoration. As most clothing of that time period was closed with lacing or hooks, garments didn’t use buttons as methods of closing on a regular basis until the last half of the 16th century. Most of the buttons from this time period were small, but over the next century or so they became larger and very ornate, often using precious metals and jewels. During the 17th and 18th Century, most buttons were worn by men. By the 18th century, buttons were becoming larger, and had even more elaborate designs. Buttons continued to make a fashion statement and the button-making industry hit such a high standard that the period from 1830-1850 has become known as the Golden Age. As mass production techniques progressed, and new synthetic materials were developed, the general standard declined. From 1860 on, women have been the main consumers of “novelty” buttons. A button is officially an object that can be used to fasten garments, with either a shank (usually a loop) on the back used to sew the button to the clothing, or with holes in the center to allow thread to pass through the body of the button. Design of Buttons Buttons have been made from almost every material found in nature or created by man. Metals are one of the most popular materials, including everything from iron to gold. Another popular material used in button making is mother of pearl, or shell of any kind. Bone, ivory, cloth, glass, stone, cinnabar, horn, antler, leather, papiér maché, ceramic, celluloid, Bakelite, and wood, plus any combination of these, have been used to fashion these miniature works of art. One of the most interesting and misrepresented materials used in buttons is jet. This is a naturally occurring mineral, with a carbon base. It is lightweight and fragile, so surviving examples are very hard to come by. Queen Victoria started a fashion in 1861 by wearing black jet buttons to mourn the death of her husband Albert. Since jet was such a rare and expensive mineral, black glass came to be substituted by the rest of the population for their mourning attire. Consequently, black glass buttons are still very common today, but are often mislabeled as “jet” buttons. Adding to the confusion were a number of companies that made black glass buttons and marketed them as “French Jet.” One way to test whether that black button you found is jet or glass is by giving it the floating test. Glass buttons will sink to the bottom in a glass of water, but the lightweight jet buttons will float. Fashion of Buttons Throughout the years, the decorations on buttons have reflected both the fashion and passions of the time. Nearly everything has been pictured on a button. Animals are one of the most popular subjects, along with plant life and objects like belt buckles and hats. Some buttons are shaped like the item they portray, and are known as “realistics” for their realistic appearance. Others simply had the design engraved, stamped, painted or enameled on the surface of a conventionally shaped button. Many of the antique buttons feature very detailed paintings in miniature. A rare and very unusual type of button is called a “habitat.” These have a metal back, with a dome shaped glass cap. But what makes them special is what is UNDER the glass. These buttons include dried plant and animal material, usually arranged to create a natural looking scene. Sometimes whole insects were used. Because of their age, and lack of preservation techniques used in the past, these buttons are rarely seen, and often in poor condition. A good quality habitat button will often sell for several hundred dollars. People and their many activities is another popular subject. Architectural objects like buildings, bridges and monuments also decorated many buttons. Political candidates, opera stars, and fairy tales are richly represented, and are favorites with collectors. Some buttons even portray risqué subjects. Buttons produced for George Washington’s inauguration are some of the most sought-after buttons in the United States. Uniform buttons fall into a special category all their own. Most of us automatically think of the military when we think of uniforms, but there are an amazing variety of uniforms in our society. Both Police and Fire Departments have their own buttons, often with the name of the city stamped on the front. Bus lines, airlines, shipping lines, city or state employees, hotels, railroads, banks, and even schools have their own unique buttons. A related field is Livery buttons. These buttons were worn by servants in large households, usually in England, and had the family’s coat of arms or crest on it. There are many collectibles related to buttons. It is not unusual to find a button collector that also hunts out belt buckles, cuff links and studs, buttonhooks, netsuke, or bridle rosettes. These are another way to add variety to your collection. Passion One advantage button collecting has over many other collectibles is that many of them are very reasonably priced. They can range in price from a few cents for […]
Collecting Horse Brasses. The use of horse brass dates back to the pre-Roman period with a complete set of horse trappings with amulets, found in North Africa in 1932. Although the early forms were mostly made of bronze, some have been discovered made of silver, or gold inlaid and inset with semi-precious stones, those of brass belong to a much more recent period. Just when these brass ornaments began is a matter of conjecture, but it is recognised that they are more or less replicas of trappings that were used in pagan times, before the Christian era. Pictured left: A Collection of Victorian and Later Horse Brasses – Late 19th and Early 20th Century – Comprising one large leather strap with a crowned ‘W’ brass above a column of four single brasses; one long strap with four brasses; four small straps with brass studs and single pendant brasses; eight brasses mounted on leather backings; thirty two loose brasses including an 1882 ploughing prize brass and an 1887 jubilee brass; three swing brass finials, two loose buttons and a leather purse. Sold for £625 at Christies, London , January 2009. Brass was not made in England until the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First, and brass casting which was introduced in the seventeenth century, was not utilised for small objects until a hundred years later. The early hammered pendants of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are so rare, that they are highly prized. Horse brasses therefore came into general use about the time of the Napoleonic wars, and were prominently displayed on state occasions, and at festivals, fairs and other happenings of English life. In the coastal areas and Scotland, brasses were often made of nickel as the salt air affected the brass. Pictured right: A Collection of Horse Brasses 19th/20th century – Including examples depicting animals, the coronation of George V and Elizabeth II, together with eleven books relating to collecting horse brasses. Sold for £120 at Christis, London, December 2006. Silver was also used in the manufacture of the “brasses” and used mainly by the wealthy to display family crests or initials. Later horse brasses were cast in moulds or stamping from a sheet of brass. Casting was the earlier method and the studs or getts were used to remove the finished piece from the mould and then attach to the leather or file down. Often the cast brasses have the remains of these getts still showing. Many reproduction brasses also have the impressions of the old studs as an integral part of their manufacture. Pictured left: A quantity of horse brass face-pieces and mounted leather martingales, late 19th or early 20th century comprising; various pierced designs some commemorating Queen Victoria’s 1897 Jubliee and Edward VII’s coronation, other emblems including the geometic sun, crescent moon, the prancing horse, the Prince of Wales feathers, elephant and castle; a quantity of flyterret’s and saddle flyer’s; a selection of brass mounted leather martingale’s and other leather straps. Sold for £823 at Christies, London, July 2003. Horse brasses were used for both decoration and for protection for the horses. Horses were very important and their owners believed that the early amulet designs of the brasses kept evil spirits from harming the horses who were unable to protect themselves. The earliest designs were symbols and shapes which had specific meanings to ward off the evil and to bring good luck. Tradition has it that the ancient Greeks and Romans considered the crescent moon as a sign of good luck. From this belief thousands of horse trappings have borne this device. The sun god whose countenance was revered and held in awe by the ancient Persians who often sacrificed a horse in its honour, was most popular as a symbol. Many of the oldest horse brasses depict the stars, after the manner and belief of the Three Wise Men, who relied on one for guidance. Others include mythological motifs including the sacred lotus and the lyre of Apollo. Pictured right: A Group Of Twenty-Two English Horse Brasses, late 19th/early 20th century, of various shapes and sizes now mounted in a giltwood frame – frame: 18in. (45cm.) high, 63in. (160cm.) wide (22). Sold for $1,673 at Christies, New York, October 2003. British horse brass designs included: bull’s head with horns, and the horse, either rampant or passant on the Saxon banner. Clubs, hearts, diamonds and spades in their turn have all been made use of on brasses. Only occasionally are seen brasses in the shape of crosses unless they are of modern make. Any old pendants bearing this Christian sign are presumed to have survived from the days of the Canterbury pilgrims. Later the brasses began to portray more obvious designs and represent current subjects and events, often grouped together on leather straps to tell a “story” about the owner or his trade. Pictured left: A large collection of horse brasses – length of longest strap 20in. Sold for $183 at Bonhams, Los Angelese, Feb, 2010. Farmers would have agricultural objects like a tree, an owl or barnyard fowl. Some brasses would illustrate, the marks if various trades, when churns, barrels and even a railway engine would be rep-resented. It should be realised, however, that there is a subtle difference between old brasses and those of today. Early types were worked by craftsmen who used solid plate and faithfully reproduced exact replicas of horse brasses which had been used from time immemorial, and rarely did they deviate from the traditional designs. Pictured right: A quantity of 19th and 20th century brass horse brasses to include RSPCA merit brasses from 1927, 28, 29 & 33, a London Cart Horse Parade brass 1907 and assorted others. Sold for £192 at Bonhams, February 2008. Horse brasses have often been employed to indicate the calling of the owner. On farms of titled gentry, this fact would be shown by brasses bearing the family crest or some heraldic device such as a bear, lion, unicorn or elephant; in hunting circles the stag, fox or hound would be appropriate. The demand for horse brasses parallels the use of 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 […]
Have you considered complementing your doll collection with picture postcards? There are thousands of designs available, and as they take up so little room, you won’t get guilt feelings each time you buy another. Picture postcards became popular in the 1890s, reaching their peak in the early 1900s, up to the end of the first world war, but even today, millions of cards are sent each year. In the days before telephones were commonplace, a postcard was the ideal medium for sending a quick message, and in Britain it was possible to post a card in the morning inviting a friend to tea the same day, and they would receive the message in plenty of time. Today, of course, it can take several days for a card to reach its destination, and so the cakes would turn stale and the tea grow cold and stewed before the invitation reached your friend. Cards served the same purpose for which we now use the phone, text message or email; they enabled people to keep in touch by brief communications. Nowadays we mainly tend to send picture postcards when we are on holiday, but at one time they were used for many different purposes including birthday, Easter and Christmas greetings – it wasn’t until the late 1940s that the folded greetings card became the norm. As you form your collection, you will no doubt discover that the majority of dolly cards you accumulate are of the greetings type. Dolls made an excellent prop for a child to hold, or even as a decoration to enhance a vase of flowers, and they featured quite extensively. They were used to increase the appeal of images of puppies, kittens, babies and beautiful young women, and also appeared in drawings and cartoons. A doll was a perfect subject for a child’s birthday card, and, in an era which was unashamed of showing sentimental feelings, dolls appeared alongside poems and ballads which are usually too sugary for today’s sophisticated tastes. All these, of course, are gems for today’s collector of doll-related postcards. One particularly popular theme is a praying child, kneeling at the side of the bed, with her (or sometimes his) dolls arranged neatly alongside, all ‘praying’ too. This image occasionally appears with a verse: Please God do make my dollies good They’ve been so naughty all today. I think I heard you say you could If I would teach them how to pray. I make them kneel with hands right up And say their prayers after me But Susan prays best on her head She breaks if Mother bends her knee. Many of the cards are photographs, usually sepia in tone, and, as well as being attractive, are particularly important to doll collectors because they make it possible to identify the doll depicted; something which can’t generally be done with any degree of certainty in a drawing. Extra interest can be added to a display when a doll is seated next to a postcard depicting the same kind of doll, especially if you dress your example in similar style to the doll shown on the card. Postcards can serve a practical purpose too. They are a visual guide to the types of dolls and the clothes they wore, as well as a guide to the fashions in children’s wear. Many of the boys depicted on the cards appear far older than their years due to their style of dress – thick formal jackets, long trousers, waistcoats and high collars. Some of the dresses worn by the little girls are delightful, with plenty of frothy lace and frills. No doubt today’s modern tot would turn her nose up in disdain if she was made to wear such a garment, which is why it’s fun to find modern examples showing 2000’s children with their dolls to add to your collection. It isn’t easy, though! However, a good start is to look through modern holiday postcards in the hope that a child and her doll was playing on the beach or walking along the prom when the photo was taken. Postcards can also be used as provenance – if the cards are dated, postmarked or stamped, it means that the doll shown on the front can be authenticated – it could be earlier than the date on the card, but will never be later. For example, if you had been told that a certain type of doll was not issued until 1927, but you come across a postcard featuring that doll and bearing a stamp franked with a postmark of two years before, you can be certain that the doll must have been made in 1925 at the latest – and maybe before. Cards add to our knowledge as well as providing a slice of social history; when telephones became more popular during the 1930s and 40s, they featured alongside dolls, as did motorcars, radios and televisions. A slightly different, but important, genre, are those postcards sold at doll museums and exhibitions which are basically straight depictions of dolls without flowery trimmings, pretty children, kittens or roses. These are useful as identification aids. Frequently, messages on the backs of the cards make interesting reading, even though you do get a feeling of eavesdropping. Early holiday cards often say that the sender is ‘having a grand time’; but later, ‘grand’ is substituted by the more modern term ‘lovely’. Some people didn’t like the thought of the postman reading their private mail, so they wrote the messages upside-down. Others alternated the lines of writing, wrote crossways or even used a code. At first, postcards cost a halfpenny (in old money) to send inland, which rose in 1918 to a penny. In 1940 it was doubled. Now of course, it costs 23p to send a postcard (2nd class delivery). It is amusing to see the oh-so-casual way which children treat their dolls on the cards, especially when you realise that the doll depicted is now classed as a collector’s item, not […]
Readers who were children during the 1950s may well have fond memories of a very rare type of doll – the Beauty Skin. Made by Pedigree, these lovely dolls were certainly not rare at the time. On the contrary they were very popular, especially with young children, because they were so soft and cuddly. Sadly, though, the dolls had a fault – they tended to disintegrate after a few years of play. Pedigree Beauty Skin dolls first appeared in the late 1940s, and were popular until the mid-1950s. They came in four sizes, but the smallest had a rubber head, unlike the hard plastic of the larger sizes. These rubber-headed dolls were 9” high, while the hard plastic headed versions were 14”, 16” and 20”. Although their heads were hard plastic, their bodies were made from a soft thin rubbery latex material and their limbs were of a similar substance, stuffed with kapok. They had pretty faces, often with flirty eyes, and most had moulded hair. Gradually, after lots of loving and cuddles, the latex would split or turn brittle, and the kapok would emerge, leaving a split and empty arm. Eventually, the dolls would be so damaged that they would be thrown away, which is why they are so rare today. Some people tried to stop the splits with sticking plaster, but this was a disastrous thing to do, because once stuck to the latex it could never be removed. It would turn grubby and unsightly. Sadly some owners of the dolls still resort to this method of stopping the kapok emerging, today, but it is not recommended. If you are lucky enough to own one of these dolls, but it has split, then the best thing to do is to place a soft garment on the doll – cardigan or leggings, depending on where the split is – and then handle it as little as possible. Just leave it alone, and hope that it doesn’t get worse. At the time, Pedigree recommended that talcum powder should be rubbed in to the latex, but I am wary of this treatment, unless the doll is actually sticky, as it could dry out the latex even more. Sun, warmth and the rigours of handling played havoc with that delicate skin, and modern central heating dries them out, too. (Most people in the fifties didn’t have to worry about central heating; they made do with a coal fire downstairs and cold bedrooms!) I called my first Beauty Skin baby Jeannie, and loved her very much, but eventually she was so damaged, I couldn’t play with her. So when I was asked what I would like for Christmas – I must have been about six – I asked for another soft doll, just like Jeannie. I found Isabelle on Christmas morning wearing a white satin dress, lying in a little blue-draped metal crib. I loved Isabelle dearly, and I had her for many years, even though her right arm slowly, but completely, disintegrated. I used to take her on holiday with me, and she rode in my doll’s pram. Eventually the day came when my mother decided I was ‘too big’ for dolls, and so most of my babies had to go. Isabelle had to be put into the dustbin – no-one would want a doll with a perished arm – though Mum kindly offered to do it for me, knowing how much I loved that doll. When I started collecting dolls, I searched everywhere for a Beauty Skin, and kept a lookout at all the doll fairs, but no luck. Then one day, about six years ago, my daughter and I visited our local Collectors’ Centre. Suddenly I saw her pick up a doll from a table, and turn to me in triumph. She had found me a Pedigree Beauty Skin! Apart from one tiny crack in the rubber skin on the palm of one hand, she was perfect, and was the first one I had seen since my beloved Isabelle was thrown in the dustbin all those years ago. She is slightly larger than my original Isabelle, and her face is a little different, but her fingers, her toes, the way her moulded hair is shaped into little curls around her forehead, are just as I remembered. My Beauty Skin wears her original white satin-edged cotton romper suit, and takes pride of place in my doll cabinet. Now, though, she normally has a light cotton dress and jacket placed over the top of her romper, just to ensure that when she is handled no damage can get to her skin. A couple of years later, my daughter came hurrying over to me at a doll fair, to say she had found another, smaller, Beauty Skin! This one was just 9” high, and was immaculate, with a soft head, rather than the hard plastic head of the larger-sized Beauty Skin babies. Still boxed and wearing her blue dress, bonnet and socks, she must have been ex-shop stock. Then, recently, I came across yet another large Beauty Skin. This one, although not in such perfect condition as our other doll, is, I believe, unplayed with, but poor storage has caused her to disintegrate on one thigh. However the facial colouring is wonderful, with cheeks as pink as the day they were painted. She is 16” tall, wears her original lilac and pink romper suit and lacy net socks, and comes with her box and even the delightful letter which Pedigree gave to all the new young ‘mothers’ of Beauty Skin babies. This delightful ‘hand-written’ letter reads: ‘My Dearest Mummy, I love you, I hope that you will love me too. Be careful not to let me fall, I am a Baby – after all! To keep me always fresh and sweet, Just sponge me over, top to feet, Then gently dry and powder me, And I’ll be clean as clean can be,. I’m ready Mummy Dear for fun, And go to sleep […]
Most of us have heard of Holly Hobbie, but perhaps Sarah Kay and Betsey Clark are slightly less familiar. All three artists specialised in drawing greetings cards, lending their names to the characters they drew, which were later issued in doll form. The Betsey Clark character is an old-fashioned miss, quite distinctive with her pointed, elfin-type face, teardrop-shaped eyes, high forehead and wispy blonde hair caught up with a thin ribbon into a bunch on top of her head. Pictured right: Betsey Clark doll She is a poor waif, with patches on her clothes and oversize shoes. This adorable child was created by her namesake, Betsey Clark, who lived in Amarillo, Texas. Betsey showed early promise for art and design, winning awards for drawing while still a child. In the early 1960s she began work at Hallmark cards, producing greetings card designs which depicted her so-called Whimsical Waifs. These soon caught the public’s imagination. Later, various dolls featuring her characters appeared, to the delight of both children and adults. Additionally, the German company of Goebel were commissioned by Hallmark to produce a series of Betsey Clark figurines for collectors. According to a collector’s site on the internet, Betsey proclaimed that she loved to ‘work off in a little bitty corner, with the drapes pulled around me’. She died in 1987, but her enchanting characters live on. A range of Betsey Clark dolls was issued by Knickerbocker in the 1970s. Amongst them was an 8″ tall vinyl-headed, soft-bodied girl, dressed in a pretty pale blue outfit of patterned dress and striped apron. Her apron bore two patches. The pale colouring of the dolls’ features and clothing reflected the delicate hues in Betsey Clark’s illustrations, and the attractive box featured a picket fence, topped with a robin, with the Betsey doll standing behind. A verse on the box read, ‘Betsey’s the very best kind of a friend, whenever you need her, she has time to spend. You can tell her your troubles when something goes wrong, and wherever you go, she likes going along! She can make you smile brightly when you’re feeling glum, when you tell her your secrets, she’ll keep every one! She can make almost anything more fun to do, and she’s coming to stay and have fun times with you!’ Betsey was also available as a small all-vinyl doll and as a rag doll, while in 1985 a delightful 6″ porcelain collector’s doll was created. Betsey Clark dolls seem more difficult to obtain here in Britain than those of Sarah Kay and Holly Hobbie, which is a shame as they are very cute with their wistful faces and large, sad eyes. Artist Sarah Kay seems to be something of a recluse. Apparently, she shuns all publicity, preferring to talk through her delightful portrayals of little girls in old-fashioned summer dresses and mob caps. Often confused with Holly Hobbie, Sarah Kay’s creations tend to wear clothes featuring spotted fabrics, while Holly Hobbie uses patchwork and small floral prints. Pictured left: Sarah Kay doll She lives in Australia, and trained at art college before joining an advertising agency. When her daughter Allison became very ill, Sarah needed something to soothe her worries, and began to work on a series of drawings featuring carefree children in an idyllic, old-fashioned country setting, gaining her inspiration from her own childhood, spent on her grandparents farm. The drawings were noticed by the Valentine Greetings Card Company, and were produced as popular cards and stationery. Pedigree decided to manufacture dolls based on the little girls in the drawings, producing a range during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some of the most delightful had vinyl faces with round, painted eyes and softly coloured lips. A few freckles were scattered across the bridge of the nose. Pictured right: Sarah Kay Pedigree doll Sweet Thoughts These dolls had rooted hair and soft bodies, and stood 13″ tall. They had names such as Gentleness, Tenderness, Sweet Love, Sweetness, Cheerfulness, Happiness, Joy, Affection, Kindness and Sweet Thoughts, and each wore a different colour or pattern; for instance, Gentleness wore mainly green, Tenderness blue, Sweet Love red and so on. Several versions were available including rag dolls in assorted sizes, and Pedigree also marketed a nightdress case, shaped like a Sarah Kay doll, under the Burbank name. Sometimes the dolls wore bonnets or mob-caps, while others had straw hats. In their 1979 catalogue, Pedigree proclaimed, ‘The most beautiful rag dolls ever. High quality material. Detailed replicas of world famous greetings cards.’ The House of Anri, founded and maintained by the Riffeser family over several generations, is famed for its creative range of wooden figurines, which are made at St. Christina, located in the Dolomite mountains of South Tyrol, Italy. Amongst their products are ornamental models of Sarah Kay characters. These delightful pieces are hand-carved from Alpine maple and are extremely popular. Several kinds of Sarah Kay jointed wooden dolls have also been carved, including Martha, a sweet little girl, 14″ tall, made in a limited edition of 750. She has the trademark freckles across her nose, and is dressed in a typical Sarah Kay outfit of cotton frock and bonnet. As you might expect, these painted, wooden creations are expensive, but they are extremely beautiful and collectable. Most famous of the three designers is Holly Hobbie. During the 1960s, people became intrigued by her designs featuring a little girl, facing sideways, dressed in a long patc hwork frock, with a large bonnet totally obscuring her face. This pose tended to create an urge to see the expression which lurked beneath the brim. Grannies, especially, adored this nostalgia theme, imagining it was their granddaughter lurking under that floppy bonnet, and the whole concept happily coincided with the fashionable look of the day – long, floaty dresses, small prints, Laura Ashley, country style, femininity and pastel shades. Pictured left: 1975 Knickerbcoker Holly Hobbie doll Holly Hobbie created her designs for the American Greetings Card Company for many years, featuring children in […]
The Van Briggle Pottery was founded in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1901 by Artus and Anne Van Briggle. The Van Briggle Pottery they established continued production of pottery for over one hundred years, and was until the company’s closure in 2012 the oldest continuously operating art pottery in the United States. The Van Briggle Pottery was noted for its Art Nouveau styles, Arts and Crafts colours, distinctive matte glazes, and its floral, figural and tiles of Anne Van Briggle. The Van Briggle’s pottery were awarded high honors from prestigious sources, including the Paris Salon, the Saint Louis Exposition, the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, and the American Arts and Crafts Exhibition in Boston. Artus Van Briggle was born on March 21, 1869, and his family lived in Ohio which was one of the main areas for ceramic design in America featuring potteries such as Roseville, McCoy, Weller, Hull and Rookwood to name a few. It was in fact Rookwood Pottery where Artus was destined, after first attending the Cincinnati Art School and later a position at the Avon Pottery where he was initially introduced to the ceramic arts. His skill and talent were recognized by Rookwood founder, Maria Storer, who became his benefactor, even sending him to France to study art at the Académie Julian in Paris. Whilst in Paris, Artus was exposed to new styles of art and techniques and took a great interest in an early matte glaze from the Chinese Ming Dynasty; a type that was lost to history. It was also in Paris where Artus met his future wife, fellow American student Anne Lawrence Gregory, an accomplished artist in her own right. Artus and Anne returned to America in 1896, where he continued at Rookwood experimenting with recreating the lost Ming Dynasty glazes. Artus was to eventually develop the “matte glaze” used at the Rookwood Pottery. This was a flat but textured glaze, often painted on soft colored clay, which used “sea green” for aquatic and floral motifs. This pale blue-green glaze was usually applied over a soft yellow, bluish or red base. Artus left Rookwood Pottery in 1899, suffering with tuberculosis, and moved to Colorado Springs. Whilst in Colorado he was able to develop his Art Nouveau influenced pottery and after two years of trials and experimentation he perfected his matte blue glaze based on an ancient Chinese process that had long been lost to history. The VanBriggle.com website says of Artus’s discovery ‘one day in the spring of 1901 he reached into the kiln, with the anticipation known well by countless potters throughout the ages, and finally held in his hands the perfect, rich, matte-glazed pottery he had sought for so long – the first pieces created in centuries, the first ever on this side of the world. Against the odds of failing health and a pursuit which no western artist had ever achieved, he succeeded; his passion was realized – a lost art was now reborn. The world would once again see and touch of the soft marble-like glazes first known by ancient Chinese masters half a world and so many generations away.’ With his new glaze and graceful Art Nouveau designs, Artus opened The Van Briggle Pottery in 1901. He was joined by Anne Gregory and they married in 1902 who was to have a major input in all aspects of the pottery as well as design. Van Briggle’s pottery and designs received national and international acclaim and in Europe’s the were proclaimed, “A supreme discovery in modern ceramics.” Artus and Anne established hundreds of Art Nouveau styles of pottery under the Van Briggle name. The Despondency vase won Van Briggle wide acclaim and first place at the Paris Salon in 1903. A display at the 1904 Centennial Exhibit in St. Louis won Van Briggle more awards and greater international fame. Artus Van Briggle died in July 1904, at the age of 35. Anne continued the pottery using the forms created by Artus as a foundation and adding more designs of her own. It was only after the death of Artus that the company started making hand pressed tiles. The tiles featured Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau designs. The tiles were very popular, especially among local builders who used them in the booming Colorado housing market and the tiles also decorated the facade and interior of the new pottery (designed by Dutch architect Nicholas Van den Arend) that was opened in 1908. Production of tiles at the pottery continued until 1920, with most of the limited production being for architectural use. For collectors access to Van Briggle tiles is limited and when do they appear at auction they achieve good prices. For collectors it is the early pieces that command most interest and highest prices for collectors notably the work of Artus. Early production was always limited and ‘one prominent collector has suggested that only about 400 pieces total were made prior to his death’ (Rago and Perrault). Although the Van Briggle Pottery continued production for over one hundred years in one form or another according to Rago and Perrault the last pieces of collecting merit date to 1932. Pieces attributed to Artus and Anne can sell for many thousands of dollars – the record price for an attributed Artus piece is his classic prototype Lorelei piece whilst he was a decorator at Rookwood. The 7 1/2-inch-tall vase is incised ‘A. Van Briggle 1898,’ and has a Paris Exposition Universelle 1900 label sold for $187,500 at Rago Arts and Auction Center’s 20th Century Decorative Arts and Design Auction in June 2016. Van Briggle Pottery Reference Rago, David and Perrault, Suzanne, How to Compare and Appraise American Art Pottery (Miller’s Treasure or Not?), 2001 VanBriggle.com web site Van Briggle Pottery on Wikipedia click here
Robert Harrop created this wonderful set of official Roald Dahl figurines based on the illustrations by Quentin Blake in 2003. There are 27 figurines in the collection featuring all of Dahl’s most famous characters with RD01 being Willy Wonka. As with all Harrop figurines they are very accurate and a true portrayal of Blakes illustrations. The Roald Dahl Robert Harrop collection is very collectable and is one of the few collections increasing in value. Robert Harrop Roald Dahl figurines RD01 Willy Wonka RD02 Charlie Bucket RD03 The BFG RD04 Mr Twit RD05 Mrs Twit RD06 Matilda RD07 Georges Marvelous Medicine RD08 Fantastic Mr Fox RD09 The Grand High Witch RD10 The Enormous Crocodile RD11 The Giraffe, the pelly and me RD12 Alfie RD13 James and the Grasshopper RD14 The magic finger RD15 Miss Trunchbull RD16 Violet Beauregarde RD17 Grandpa Joe RD18 Danny the champion of the world RD19 Badger RD20 Augustus Gloop RD21 Boggis RD22 Bunce RD23 Bean RD24 Veruca Salt RD25 Mike Teavee RDCP Collection plaque RDLE1 Dream Catcher/BFG For more information about Robert Harrop visit https://www.robertharrop.com/