John Howard
The Antique English Pottery Specialist
Heritage, 6 Market Place, Woodstock, OX20 1TA | +44 (0)1993 812580 | +44 (0)7831 850544
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Early Antique Staffordshire Figures

CIRCA 1810-35

Pottery figure groups from the first quarter of the nineteenth century represent perhaps the richest source of social history in Britain. These naïve and charming pieces tell the stories which were of interest to ordinary working folk in the days before images in newspapers, magazines and television.

These figures modelled in clay and decorated in bright enamel colours were produced mainly in the Staffordshire area of England and other factories in Scotland and Wales.

These figure groups from this period are one of the last true examples of folk art from the British Isles. The figures represent images relating to religion, rural sports, work and pastimes, love, crime, politics, war, theatre, circus, entertainment and every aspect of every day life one could imagine. Sometimes they are elaborately modelled but they always retain a charm, warmth and humour which mirrors aspects of our humanity.

The most famous potters producing these figures which were affordable compared to the rather more refined and rather clinical porcelain examples were, Walton, Sherratt, Salt and Wood. Scores of other potters in the Staffordshire area manufactured figures and we still do not know the origin of the maker on many of the pieces. The fact that most examples were unmarked by the potter adds to the mystery associated with many of these figures today.

Figures were also produced in Scotland and several factories in the Portobello area of Edinburgh produced distinctive and colourful examples.

Several books have been published on the subject. Our recommended reference is the Myrna Schkolne work titled People, Passions, Pastimes and Pleasures (Staffordshire Figures 1810-35). This book is full of excellent pictures, technical information and most importantly it explains the social context and importance of the figures which makes these pieces alive and relevant today.

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© 2014 Antique Pottery of John Howard @ Heritage, Woodstock, UK