Antiques Column with Michael Dowse: A pottery menagerie valued by collectors

A Beswick pottery bird
A Beswick pottery bird

The Beswick Pottery was founded in 1894 in Staffordshire by John Beswick and his father James Wright Beswick.

It began life manufacturing the usual array of earthenware and bone china vases and tableware but by the turn of the century had ventured into animal models. These models were a huge success, and undoubtedly what Beswick is best known for today, and by 1930 had moved from a sideline to a major part of Beswick pottery productions.

Some models were only made for a short time and are more desirable

Michael Dowse

Arthur Gredington is probably the modeller who had the most influence over the animal ranges produced by Beswick as he was chief modeller, designing most of them from 1939 to 1957. There is a huge selection of animals available including birds, dogs, cats and a whole host of farmyard beasts with some being more popular and valuable to collectors. Horses are a particular favourite as are the cows and bulls; especially the larger, more impressive variations. Due to the huge variety of models available, collectors do tend to concentrate their collections on a particular animal.

Some models were only made for a short time and therefore more desirable today, for example the Galloway Bull which was made from 1963 to 1969. He is available in all black, black with a central white belt, and fawn and brown, with the all black version considered the most valuable by collectors. This happens with many of the models; they are produced in very similar forms and one particular variation will be the most desirable.

The animals were produced with both matt and gloss glazes and as a general, but not exclusive, rule the matt is more highly valued. Beswick was eventually sold to Royal Doulton in 1969 but animals marked ‘Beswick’ continued to be made until 1989.