Stories on the Mantlepiece

Posted on the 2023-12-12 10:46:11 by Abbott Antiques & Collectables.
Stories on the Mantlepiece

For almost two centuries, from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century, so-called Staffordshire figures have formed an important and valued part of the decor in parlours, kitchens and the sitting rooms of thousands of British homes. Many were modelled and produced in the Stoke-on-Trent/Staffordshire area, although similar pieces were made in other areas of the United Kingdom, all similar and collectively referred to as Staffordshire.

Many consider that their value is usually understood as being purely decorative, although this assumption is far from the truth. Their intended purpose was conceived as being educational and informative, celebrating a wide range of people from Scripture to the celebrated heroes/heroines, scientists, artists, military figures, statesmen, politicians to even murderers and villains, with some 'nodding' to ethical and moral teaching all within the experience and compass of life and death, spanning over two hundred years.

Designed and made, at a time when few could read or write, particularly amongst the poorer, lower eshelon of society, these figures provided a visible, three-dimensional view of what was happening, locally or worldwide, whether that was the accession of a new monarch, a General's military achievement, a model of a wild animal or a collection of models surrounding a murder, all became a talking point and a focus for people's imagination and the education of their minds. All in all, such understanding has been lost because the world of Staffordshire models is seen more as cheap, often garish and tacky, with the intention being forgotten and our appreciation for them as being nothing more than their artistic merit, or lack of it, rather than the historical and invaluable place they once held in the affection of ordinary men and women.

The truth is, quite simply, they were not merely pieces which collected dust or filled the spaces on the Mantle-piece, but were valued, much collected objects which brought a world closer to home, than many, in their lifetime, would ever come to know or experience.