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“To collect VICTORIAN STAFFORDSHIRE figures it is wise to know something of how they evolved in style as well as of the materials that were used to make them.

Staffordshire figures can be considered a robust kind of folk art, for they were made primarily for the modest domestic middle class. They chronicled the times by making figures of royalty, soldiers, sailors, explorers, politicians, actors, authors, singers, circus folk and even murderers! They show an endless variety of the English love of animals as well as country sports.

Almost all figures were made in the relatively small area of North Staffordshire know as "the Potteries"- the six towns of Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Fenton, Longton and Stoke. No other area in England has known such a concentrated production of pottery and porcelain for so long a period.

The body of figures made in Staffordshire in the 19th century was relatively simple. The potter worked with clay. When clay is baked in an oven it undergoes a chemical change and sets hard; and therefore becomes known as earthenware or pottery. Quality varied greatly. And with good reason. These works were not made by a single factory, but are the unrecorded products of an area some thirty square miles, an area using mainly children as laborers.

Victorian figures can be either heavy or light in weight, and yet whatever the composition of the clay, the figure that is molded from an original model will be sharp and beautifully detailed . The underglaze cobalt blue should be deep and lustrous; the overglaze enamel colours fresh and evenly applied.

Learning about the techniques in firing and decorating the figures helps a collector to see the finer points of a piece he or she may buy. And later to see the difference between an original figure and a reproduction.”

- The Victorian Staffordshire Figure by Anthony Oliver

Suggested Reading: Victorian Staffordshire Figures by A. & N. Harding, Books 1-3
Staffordshire Portrait Figures of the Victorian Era by P.D. Gordon Pugh Antiques & Collectibles Dealer Association



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