Antiques Column: Sought-after Staffordshire figures

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I am afraid to say that on any matter which is not work-related it is very rare for anyone to take any notice whatsoever of anything I say.

My opinion on food is rarely sought and when it is, it is usually ignored.

It was with a mixture of delight and trepidation therefore that I dealt with a recent phone call relating to an article I had written which mentioned a local eatery in glowing terms. The lady calling was celebrating a landmark birthday and searching for an appropriate venue. I divulged the location of the restaurant.

To have someone act on my culinary advice began to cause me no small degree of pressure and anxiety. So much so that I booked my wife and myself in for another meal to be certain I was indeed right to praise the restaurant.

We went and I was right, and while there my opinion was sought on Staffordshire figures.

The production of Staffordshire figures began during the reign of George III in about 1780.

The early figures are much better quality than their Victorian cousins and so always command a much higher price. By the early Victorian period the figures were so popular that corners had to be cut and production techniques altered to increase output. Demand remained high until the end of the 19th century.

To produce a model a skilled designer sculpted an original.

From this a mould was made and this would produce about 200 models.

The older the mould the more worn the details on the model became and this affects the price paid by collectors today.

Quality from one factory to another can differ greatly. The flatback figure (with no detailing or painting on the back) was the result of even further cutbacks.

Staffordshire figures provide a social history of the period. They cover every type of person from the notorious rogue to the Royal family, celebrities, fictional characters, military heroes, sportsmen, and politicians.

Dogs were among the most popular models and in particular the seated King Charles spaniel. No Victorian parlour was complete without a pair of these comforter dogs by the fire. They are mainly white with painted features and of varying sizes.