auctioneers and valuers
Nic Saintey
On this page....
Staffordshire pottery dogs: Pedigree Chums.
Staffordshire pottery figures: Something smutty.
Staffordshire pottery portrait figures: A spot of anger management.
Staffordshire pottery: The last public hanging in England – a botched job.
Staffordshire pottery portrait groups for auction: A couple of Drama Queens.
Staffordshire pottery figures for auction: Answers on a postcard please
Staffordshire figures for auction: Sometimes the pen is mightier than the sword.
Staffordshire Pottery – a collection of Staffordshire figures for auction: A long and extinguished career!
Staffordshire Pottery – a collection of Staffordshire figures for auction: A bad change of career
Staffordshire Pottery – A Collection of Staffordshire figures for sale: Breaking bad habits.
Staffordshire Pottery: Staffordshire Figures for Auction: The first Indiana Jones?
Staffordshire Figures : Where did you get that hat?
Staffordshire Figures: A bizarre family tree.
Staffordshire Pottery Figures: Common decency and care in the community.
Staffordshire Pottery Auctioneers: Old Age and a Bit of Monkey Business
Staffordshire Pottery Auctions: Brothers (and a Sister) in Arms
Staffordshire Pottery-Auction of Staffordshire Pottery Figures: Fickle Friends
Staffordshire Pottery Auction:Staffordshire Pottery Figure - Keeping warm in church.
Staffordshire Pottery - A collection of Staffordshire Pottery for Sale at Devon Auctioneers : A Punch below the belt?
Staffordshire Pottery - A Collection of Staffordshire Figures for Auction in Devon: A ‘tight wad’ and a dodgy will.
Staffordshire Pottery Sale: The original freak show?
Staffordshire Pottery: September 2012 Auction of Staffordshire Pottery at Devon Auctioneers - Town Dog and Country Dog
Staffordshire Pottery Auction at Devon Auctioneers: No Trouble with the Vauxhall Flower Beds
Staffordshire Pottery Auction: Adultery and the Friday Night Thrill Show
Staffordshire Pottery: Making Good Our Misteaks
The Stockman Collection of Staffordshire Pottery and Related Ceramics
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About Nic Saintey
Nic Saintey is a director and a specialist in ceramics. His effervescent nature and wide experience has seen him regularly appear as an expert on the BBC's Bargain Hunt and Flog It programmes
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The material published in this web log is for general purposes only. It does not constitute nor is it intended to represent professional advice. You should always seek specific professional advice in relation to particular issues. The information in this web log is provided "as is" with no warranties and confers no rights. The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions.

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Review Entries for Day Friday, August 31, 2012

Perhaps the most ubiquitous and abundant item of Staffordshire pottery is the dog and of these there can scarcely be a maiden aunt who doesn’t own a pair of Spaniels. Their popularity can be traced back to Edwin Landseer’s 1836 portrait of Queen Victoria’s Spaniel Dash.

 dash-queen-victoria's-king-charles-spaniel

Dash Queen Victoria's King Charles Spaniel

Whilst the pottery hound is a common beast it is not without variety or indeed charm. Some of the earlier pearlware dogs are beautifully modelled and coloured and their breeds are easily recognisable.

 staffordshire-pottery-a-pearlware-pointer-and-a mastiff-taper-vase-group

Staffordshire pottery: a pearlware pointer and a mastiff taper vase group

However, perhaps my favourite Staffordshire Spaniels are those subject to a spot of artistic license these are the so called Disraeli Spaniels decorated with a fringe of kiss curls in deference to the Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Why this was a popular move or indeed seemed like a good idea I really can’t fathom. I couldn’t quite picture a Cameron Poodle, but a shaggy Boris Johnson, now that’s a real possibility.

 

staffordshire-pottery-a-pair-of-disraeli-spaniels

Staffordshire pottery: a pedigree pair of Disraeli Spaniels

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Friday, August 31, 2012 7:33:51 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Thursday, August 30, 2012

I am always amused at the perceived Victorian sense of morality and we have all heard of the apocryphal stories of dressing the legs of furniture for the sake of decency though I rather guess it was more a case of how a lady might sit decently.

I can’t be the only one that believes that the near naked female form appeared rather regularly in the Academy or the Gallery, but that it was acceptable because it was ‘Art’. As a man who is employed in the field I can buy into that aesthetic argument, but every now and then something more ‘under the counter’ appears.

                                                                   a-staffordshire-pottery-tavern-wench

                             A Staffordshire pottery figure of a 'saucy' tavern wench

The tavern wench is modelled modestly with long dress, apron and mob cap carrying a bottle she might not merit a second glance, but upend her and under her skirts she is accurately and explicitly modelled. It certainly isn’t a one off I have seen another previously so it must have been made commercially. Whether it is art, pornography or ‘Page Three’ you can decide.

                          Below is an image of why the tavern wench is so infamous

 

 

                                                      You have been warned!

 

 

 

                                     why-the-staffordshire-pottery-tavern-wench-is-infamous

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Thursday, August 30, 2012 7:59:57 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How often do we use a word in common parlance without a thought to its origin? Jumbo is a default name for all pachyderms and for things of large size, but how did it arrive in the Oxford English Dictionary?

 a-staffordshire-pottery-figure-of-jumbo

A Staffordshire Pottery figure of Jumbo

The original Jumbo was born in Mali and was transferred to London Zoo in 1865 via Paris. His London keeper gave him the name after the Swahili term for Chief (Jumbe). Initially he was used as a popular ride by thousands until he started to become aggressive and was sold onto Barnum’s Circus despite 100,000 letters of protest from Victorian school children.

 an-image-of-jumbo's-tragic-end-taken-in-1885

Jumbo's tragic end in an Ontario railway yard.

Tragically Jumbo’s bad temper was his downfall and after only two years across the Atlantic whilst in an Ontario railway yard he fatally charged a locomotive.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012 10:45:49 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Today’s figure certainly has an air of real life drama about it. It depicts the moment in Summer 1866 when Thomas Smith caught neighbouring farmer William Collier poaching on his land. In the heat of the moment Collier shot Smith then beat him to death with his rifle until the barrel broke.

It does seem like an excessive reaction doesn’t it? However, hanging and transportation were not uncommon punishments for the crime of poaching, so perhaps one could empathise with the desperation of a starving man, but a landowner stealing from another just seems like foolish greed?

staffordshire-pottery-figure-of-collier-and-smith-collier-is-wearing-the-top-hat

Staffordshire Pottery group of Collier and Smith

Collier was hanged outside Stafford Jail, but on the first attempt the rope broke and he dropped into the pit and was heard wailing. Another rope was fetched and he was successfully hung amidst an unsettled and booing crowd. Later that year public executions were banned.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012 8:15:11 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Monday, August 27, 2012

Our first Drama Queen is the chart topping opera singer Jenny Lind, otherwise known as the Swedish Nightingale This figure commemorates her first performance in Meyerbeer’s opera Robert le Diable and depicts her in the role of Alice and the modelling is taken from an engraving that appeared in the London Illustrated News, 8th May, 1847.

Staffordshire Pottery figure of Jenny Lind

However before her arrival John Liston might have held an equal place in the nation’s hearts though his forte was the comic opera and here he is depicted in the role of Moll Flaggon in Burgoyne’s comic opera The Lord of the Manor which he first performed in Convent Garden in October 1812.

  

StaffordshirePottery Enoch Wood figure of Moll Flaggon

 Bizarrely John Burgoyne was actually a decorated General and was M.P. for Midhurst and Preston who wrote the opera for his lover, the actress Susan Caulfield, thankfully he was long dead when Liston took on the role.

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Monday, August 27, 2012 9:41:16 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Saturday, August 25, 2012

Whilst there are many volumes on Staffordshire pottery portrait groups every now and then a figure defies identity and sometimes any plausible explanation as to what is going on – the previously mentioned monkey drummer on a poodle being an example.

Take today’s figure – why is there an extra head in it? Is it a child, a spying love rival, a prank, does it depict a scene from a play, is he a magician with his assistant, is it a spectral head or just decapitated?

Staffordshire Pottery Figure group and the extra head

Whatever the explanation they seem either relaxed or unaware of its existence and it isn’t the only example in existence so did go into production so someone knows. Perhaps we ought to ask King Henry VIII he seemed to have a working knowledge of unattached heads?

 

staffordshire-pottery-figure-henry-viii-and-anne-boleyn

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Saturday, August 25, 2012 9:48:24 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Friday, August 24, 2012

Like many I am aware of a literary character called Uncle Tom, but that was as far as it goes. Published in 1852 as an anti slavery novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Toms Cabin became the unsurpassed best seller of the 19th century and became a catalyst for the Civil War.

In a nutshell Uncle Tom and his family are the property of a benevolent farmer who falling on hard times sells him ‘down the (Mississippi) river’  Whilst on the riverboat he befriends Eva who encourages her father to purchase Tom and take him home where they share a mutual Christian understanding. Unfortunately Eva and her father die prematurely and Tom falls into the hands of a violent trader. Throughout Tom’s unbreakable Christianity prevails to the extent that he forgave his assailant as they whipped him to death.

a-staffordshire-pottery-portrait-group-uncle-tom-and-little-eva

A Staffordshire pottery portrait group of Uncle Tom and little Eva

Although apocryphal when Abraham Lincoln met the author he said ‘So this is the little lady that started this great war’.

a-similar-staffordshire-pottery-portrait-group-of-uncle-tom-and-little-eva

Another version of the Staffortdshire group of Uncle Tom & Eva

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Friday, August 24, 2012 10:35:12 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Thursday, August 23, 2012

I try to steer clear of the titled when it comes to Staffordshire portrait figures, but I can’t help liking Lord Raglan or to give him his full moniker Field Marshall Fitzroy James Henry Somerset.

Part of the appeal may be that he was a West Country man and was M.P. for Truro, but really it is down to his duty and because he ‘took one for the team’ despite his elevated position. He lost an arm at Waterloo in 1804, was stabbed five times during the Peninsular War in 1810 and was first over the wall at Badajoz.

 staffordshire-pottery-figure-lord-raglan-without-a-full-compliment-of-limbs

A Staffordshire pottery portrait figure of Lord Raglan

Just as he ought to be retiring he headed the expeditionary force to the Crimea in 1854 and after initial successes in Alma and the debacle at Balaclava he became bogged down at Sebastopol and Malakoff. He took the can for the logistical failings of the campaign – though the blame lay closer to home. It was not the blade or a bullet, but dysentery that killed him.

 

a-staffordshire-pottery-model-of-the-russian-fort-at-malakoff

A Staffordshire model of Malakoff, a hard nut to crack

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Thursday, August 23, 2012 11:21:16 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Captain Matthew Webb as most school boys know was the first man to swim the English Channel unaided and really clever school boys remember that in the summer of 1875 it took him nearly 22 hours to swim from Dover to Calais.

Whilst the Channel is only 21 miles wide at this point owing to strong currents Webb swam nearly 39 miles and was stung by jelly fish on the way so if any schoolboy knew that they are far too clever for their own good!

 staffordshire-pottery-figure-a-rather-louche-looking-captain-webb

Staffordshire pottery figure: a rather louche looking Captain Webb

His new found fame led him to leave the Merchant Navy and become a professional swimmer unfortunately whilst floating in a tank of water for 128 hours was an easy stunt his new career floundered when he drowned swimming the Niagara Rapids.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012 2:38:56 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ohio born John Solomon Rarey was perhaps one of the earliest horse whisperers who specialised in the rehabilitation of violent horses. In 1858 he accepted an invitation to Windsor Castle to tame one of Queen Victoria’s horses..

 a-staffordshire- pottery-wild-stallion

The press sensing a story scoured the country for the most vicious beast they could find which turned out to be a breeding stallion called Cruiser. Rarey against advice shut himself in the stable only to appear several hours later leading the pliant stallion behind him. The owners gifted Cruiser to Rarey and the pair travelled throughout Europe and America.

staffordshire-pottery-portrait-group-of-john-rarey-and -the-subdued-cruiser

Ironically the Rarey technique did not involve ‘whispering’, but strapping up one leg thus making it easier to lay a horse down using only his hands – though there is some suggestion that it could be more brutal than that. Once a horse was subdued he would then lie unthreateningly upon its hooves. Rarey died in 1875 and unfortunately Cruisers bad habits returned.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012 9:02:51 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Monday, August 20, 2012

I can’t decide whether Lady Hester Stanhope was brave, foolish or just a risk taker. Originally house keeper and hostess to William Pitt the Younger she was awarded a hefty pension on his death.

After three years in the public eye she left for a quiet life in Cairo, but lost everything in a shipwreck on the way, so took to wearing borrowed (male) Turkish clothes. A fortune teller told her she was to marry the ‘New Messiah’ and she became known as Queen Hester. Wandering freely as a Bedouin she acquired a map that suggested that there was gold under the ruins of a Gaza city, but failed to find it during her ‘archaeological’ excavations.

She interfered in local politics and was given a surprising degree of tolerance by her Arabic locals and when Pasha decided to invade Syria he sought her promise of neutrality beforehand. On her eventual return to ‘Blighty’ she died eccentric and penniless.

staffordshire-pottery-lady-hester-stanhope-and-dr-meryon

Staffordshire Pottery Figures Lady Hester- Stanhope and Dr Meryon

 

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Monday, August 20, 2012 9:55:01 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Sunday, August 19, 2012

I guess that I have spent some time talking down ‘High Culture’ but it could also be an influence for the Staffordshire potters after all they were in business – I suppose I think of it as the current version of the fake Rolex – bit naughty but if there’s a market for it.

I got Robin to photograph the two versions of ‘Africa’ side by side (the Meissen version is being sold with us on 1st November) – probably difficult to guess, but which do you think is Meissen and which is Staffordshire pottery? Which ever one you favour I bet you have seen more ‘Africans’ than either the Meissen or the Staffordshire modeller had, but I bet you’ve never seen a hat like that though.

 

    Staffordshire pottery or Meissen ?

 

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Sunday, August 19, 2012 11:56:07 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Saturday, August 18, 2012

Robin (our man who takes photographs) is busy beside me taking images for the website and I say ‘Look at this one’ It is Nellie Chapman ‘The Second Lion Queen’ -pregnant pause - while I wait for him to say ‘The Second’ so I can tell him that the first Lion Queen got eaten!

Instead he trumps me by saying I have a step relative who wrestled tigers in the circus, but she was called Sangar. Oh I say and remain nonchalant and look it up … turns out they are one and the same. Although Nellie acted under the name of Pauline de Vere she hooked up with Lord (his first name not a title) Sangar and became Lady Sangar.

Staffordshire Figure - The Lion Queen

All very bizarre and confusing, but here she is in front of Robin’s engraving. If you’re interested he might let me see the photographs of his Ilfracombe stunt –  ‘The Forty (horses) in Hand', if you’re interested and he’ll let me have it, who knows?

Staffordshire Figure - Lady Sanger  the Lion Queen

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Saturday, August 18, 2012 8:23:03 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Friday, August 17, 2012

The so called Alphington Ponies or the Durnford sisters were a tragic Torquay couple – originally of means their father ran off with their governess and left them in difficulties. They were engaged to two brothers one of whom shot the other in a hunting accident then took his life in grief, from this point they became somewhat unhinged.

They began to dress (unfashionably) identically and wore ‘doll-like’ faces; perhaps most importantly for the Victorian sense of decency they wore dresses above the ankle. They were robust walkers always taking the air arm in arm, just as well as when times were hard they had to give up their ponies.

Who in their right mind felt it was ok to use the unfortunate sisters as ambassadors for Torquay, I am unsure, but I hope that they were not around to witness their fame? My final thought is if a spot of ankle was indecent, what would the moralists think if they visited the resort today?

Staffordshire Pottery Figures - The Alphington Ponies

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Friday, August 17, 2012 9:08:26 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Thursday, August 16, 2012

It took me a bit of time to work out who this was as the caption is pretty spidery, but it turns out it is Thomas Parr (no relation to the Staffordshire potter) or ‘Old Parr’ as he is often referred to. The figure is taken from an engraving which in turn was taken from a portrait painted by Rubens when he was apparently 140 years old.

staffordshire-pottery-thomas-parr

Staffordshire Pottery Figure - Thomas Parr

 

Thomas was born in Shropshire in 1483, but bought to London by The Earl of Arundel and presented to Charles I in 1635, unfortunately the metropolitan air wasn’t too good for him and he died whilst there – hardly a premature end. It seems that this may have been an advertising figure for Parr’s Life Pills a popular Victorian medicine.

Why is there a picture of a monkey seated on a poodle banging a drum – I really have no idea, but I had to use it somewhere.

staffordshire-pottery-fugure-musical-monkey

Staffordshire Pottery Figure - Musical Monkey

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Thursday, August 16, 2012 10:07:36 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Staffordshire pottery wasn’t all about jingoism so lest you feel that my last foray into the Crimean was all one sided today there are a couple of unfortunates coupled with a ‘sort of ‘statesman well more accurately woman. Firstly we have the Wounded Soldier being supported by a sailor – a reminder that the Navy was heavily involved and also suffered losses in the Crimea.

 

 staffordshire-pottery-the-wounded-soldier

 Staffordshire Pottery - The Wounded Soldier

 

No mention of the Crimean War would be complete without mention of Florence Nightingale and her work to ensure that the Forces were not out of sight and mind. As an ex member of the Army Medical Corps, which was formed at the time, it was a good start, but condition in a Crimean Hospital were still pretty basic. I have just found a fantastic quote from her which I have paraphrased ‘It seems a strange principle that a hospital should do the sick no harm’.

staffordshire-pottery-the-lady-of-the-lamp

Staffordshire Pottery Figure -  The Lady of the Lamp

Perhaps it is fitting to finish with The Greenwich Pensioner who despite his condition is seeing out his time in comfort.

staffordshire-pottery-the-greenwich-pensioner

Staffordshire Pottery Figure - The Greenwich Pensioner

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012 9:39:51 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Crimean War occurred mid century just at a time when Staffordshire Pottery was at the peak of its production so obviously features heavily as a source of influence for all sorts of portrait figures.

As I think I have mentioned statesmen are not really my field of interest, but I thought I would highlight a couple to show how fickle international politics could be. First is a celebratory group of the Allied powers showing Queen Victoria, Abdul Medjid and Napoleopn III arm in arm after their victory over Russia in 1854.

 staffordshire-pottery-celebratory-group-of-the-allied-powers

   

However, six years later amidst scares of French Imperial expansionism (as opposed to ours) and a Anglo-French war Napoleon III is now depicted prostrate beneath the British Lion.

staffordshire-pottery-napoleon-iii-and-the-british-lion

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012 7:35:17 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Monday, August 13, 2012

When it comes to satirical I prefer something a little more subtle. Whilst these earlier 19th century Staffordshire pearlware figures are not necessarily meant as critical pieces they do rather make the clergy look like jobbing individuals rather than ‘hell fire and brimstone’ spiritual leaders.

staffordshire pottery - vicar-and-moses-group

 

First there is the Vicar and Moses group which depicts the dozing Vicar having had a little sip of something to keep away the cold leaving his clerk ‘Moses’ to continue the sermon. Next is a group sometimes called the Parson and Curate here it seems their efforts to keep out the cold night air have been a little too successful.

staffordshire pottery - the-parson-and-the-curate

 

Both are gloriously coloured and well modelled and the satire is a little more subtle, there is no villain here, just flawed human beings and I think we can all empathise with that.

                                                                                                                                

 

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Monday, August 13, 2012 7:29:57 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Sunday, August 12, 2012

The reintroduction of Roman Catholicism in this country has had something of a troubled path as this Thomas Parr Staffordshire pottery ‘No Popery’ group depicts.

 

staffordshire pottery-thomas parr-no-popery-figure-protestantism

 

On the face of it the scene looks benign and like the kneeling monk is beseeching the maid to do the right thing, but what is the right thing?

 

The maids purse only has the residue of its original caption, but would have read ‘£10,000’ and was based on an anti – Catholic cartoon, called The Kidnapper that first appeared in Punch in March 1851, it shows the priest offering a veil in return for the cash, a very anti-Catholic response to the Pope granting English territory to his Bishops.

staffordshire-pottery-no-popery figure-the-kidnapper

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Sunday, August 12, 2012 10:11:47 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Saturday, August 11, 2012

Jemmy Wood, (incorrectly captioned Jimmy) on the face of it an unassuming Gloucester draper was on his death in 1836 the richest commoner in all England having amassed an estate just short of £800,000. He certainly didn’t get rich sewing on buttons, but as a sideline he operated a Private Bank offering no interest on loans taken out for less than a year – I guess someone was slow in paying!

staffordshire-pottery-jemmy-wood

His miserliness was legendry he once returned from Tewksbury laid down in a returning hearse rather than pay for a carriage and although alderman of Gloucester never became mayor as he couldn’t stomach paying for the inaugural banquet. 

On his death a charred fragment of a rival will was found leaving his fortune to a local solicitor, Gloucester Corporation and two others. The Corporation spent £1000’s and years trying unsuccessfully to ‘prove’ the claim and the solicitor hung himself!

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Saturday, August 11, 2012 4:21:01 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Friday, August 10, 2012

Chang and Eng Bunker, the original so called Siamese Twins were discovered in what is modern day Thailand in 1829 by a Scottish trader. He paid their parents to allow him to take the teenage twins on a ten year world tour including a stint with P.T. Barnum.

 It proved lucrative and on the trip they married identical English sisters and had 21 children (in a specially made bed) before retiring to a plantation in South Carolina. They often argued and Chang drank heavily whilst his brother did not.

When Chang died of pneumonia at the age of sixty-three his brother followed suit in hours. Chang is apparently Siamese for left and Eng right. Our example is coloured black somewhat ironically as the brothers had slaves on their plantation and two of their sons fought for the Confederacy.

staffordshire-pottery-chang-and-eng-bunker

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Friday, August 10, 2012 8:56:47 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Thursday, August 09, 2012

In Regency England, the poor man's sport was rat catching and in the urban centres like London there was no shortage of the raw material. Billy the Rat Catcher was the canine champion.

I use the term 'catcher' a little loosely as one night in the early 1830s at a competition in the Westminster Pit the terrier dispatched one hundred of the furry critters in five and half minutes.

 staffordshire-pottery-billy-the-rat-catcher

A Staffordshire Pottery figure of the famed terrier:
"Billy the Rat Catcher".

 

If Billy is a little blood thirsty for your tastes then maybe perhaps something of a more sentimental nature might hit the mark, so here is the 'Rescue Dog' a more benign canine hero pulling a drowning child from a stream? All together now ahhhh…..

 

staffordshire-pottery-the-rescue-dog

A more benign Staffordshire ceramic of a 'rescue dog'.

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Thursday, August 09, 2012 7:28:40 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Staffordshire Potters were it seems keen business men and were quite happy to pass off the same group in different guises and often one can see the same figure with different captions.

 staffordshire-pottery-isaac-van-amburgh-or-hercules

A Staffordshire Pottery figure as Hercules in his first labour
to bring back the skin of the Numean Lion

 staffordshire-pottery-lorenzo-the-lion-tamer-or-androcles-and-the-lion

... and now perhaps as Samson wrestling a lion!

For instance, is this Hercules on his first labour to bring back the skin of the Numean Lion, or Samson wrestling a lion or might it just be Isaac van Amburgh the Brute Tamer of Pompeii?

I cannot be alone in preferring the latter more colourful character. There is an engraving in the London Illustrated News of September 1848 of van Amburgh wrestling lions at the Vauxhall Gardens - well London was obviously very different back then and I bet there were no tabbies digging up the municipal beds in that park.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2012 6:09:08 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Ivan Mazeppa was a very naughty boy who in the 17th century was caught in flagrante with a nobleman's wife. His punishment was to be tied to the back of a wild Ukrainian horse that was chased by hounds. The horse eventually died but he didn't. He was rescued by Cossacks with whom he fought for in several battles.

 

A Staffordshire Pottery figure of Ivan Mazeppa's punishment.

Mazeppa came to the attention of the public after Byron wrote about him in 1819 and shortly after it was performed as an 'equestrian drama' in the Old Vic.

But what are we to make of the zebra, was this artistic licence by a bored decorator on a Friday evening. I wish it was, but sadly no? By the 1830s, this was a cheap and easy to stage thrill show for travelling circuses who vied with each other for prominence and a naked guy on zebra was a gimmick to pull in the public.

Another Staffordshire Pottery, but apparently not artistic 
licence on the Mazeppa theme by a bored decorator!

 

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Tuesday, August 07, 2012 4:48:46 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Monday, August 06, 2012
For me, part of the charm of Staffordshire pottery particularly in the earlier half of the century is its sometimes clumsy modelling and it's garish and bright colouring. Part of the reason for this is that it is not 'high end' stuff - it was made by people for people - unlike say, porcelain, which was meant for deeper pockets.
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Monday, August 06, 2012 10:08:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Friday, August 03, 2012

I have always had a bit of a liking for Staffordshire pottery and particularly the portrait figures, so I am very happy to be starting work on a collection of four or five hundred of them. Rather difficult to gauge the number as they are still coming out of the cardboard boxes in which they were packed six or seven and in some cases ten years ago. I’m feeling quite nostalgic seeing all the old dealer labels and auctioneers lot numbers, including some of our own on pieces we sold to Mr Stockman twenty years earlier!

Staffordshire pottery has often been referred to as 'The Tribal Art' of England and I think it is an appropriate term not only because it is sometimes naively modelled and often boldly coloured, but because it focuses on ‘Joe Public’. Unlike the contemporary porcelain of the time which seems to have a predisposition for classical, mythological, Oriental and the exotic, Staffordshire pottery reflects the ‘Pop Culture’ of the period. Of course royalty and statesmen were the stock in trade of many Staffordshire potters but their work also depicted the actors, circus performers, soldiers and sailors, infamous criminals, the freak show, the unhinged, irreverent and sometimes the downright lewd.
 

Some of the Staffordshire Pottery from the Stockman Collection 
I am currently cataloguing for our sale on Tuesday, 11th September 2012 
in Honiton, Devon and live onine over the Internet.

I often wonder who was responsible for the belief that all Victorians were staid, resolute and upright with a hint of jingoism and ‘derring do’ You might not admit it openly, but you must be just a teensy bit curious as to who these ‘other’ individuals are…. however you’ll have to wait.

The sale is scheduled for Tuesday, 11th September 2012 in the Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood salerooms in Honiton, Devon. If you are impatient then I hope to be blogging daily as I work through the collection so you might get a sneak preview.

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Friday, August 03, 2012 10:40:11 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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