These charming pieces of pottery were produced by the potters in Staffordshire, England, during Victorian times and were sold by traveling peddlers door-to-door, at county fairs, open markets and shops. They also set up stalls near theaters and other tourist attractions. While the rich and well-to-do sought Meissen and Chelsea objects for their homes, the less affluent working class wanted a range of fine, more affordable ornamental items. The Staffordshire potters saw this opportunity and offered a pottery that has become more collectible in recent years than they could ever have imagined.
These figures offer a wide range of subjects from which to choose. They include famous people of the day, the rustic charm of country living, children, especially the Royals, and both wild and domestic animals. Dogs were a very popular subject, the most popular being the King Charles spaniel. They were shown as family pet, partner in hunting and farming, friend and protector of children and as decorative figures on their own.
As well as decorative, the pieces often had additional uses. Some had a hollow tree or similar design to be used as a “spill vase,” somewhere to put splints of wood or thin paper rolls to be used for taking a light from the fireplace for a pipe, lamp or candle. (See the photo below.) Other items were used as inkwells or banks. Many of the cottages had delicately pierced windows and a hole in the rear and were used as incense burners. For the man of the house, there were figures with a built-in watch holder; his pocket watch became a mantle clock in the evening. These Staffordshire figures complement a beautiful piece of furniture or look lovely grouped in a cabinet or bookcase display.
This 5-¾” high Spill Vase colorfully captures a young girl enjoying the outdoors in the company of her dog and lamb.