Welcome to My Red Cape. Long ago in another time my husband Jack and I lived in a little old red house. It was the stuff of dreams to us for the few years that we were there. I live there still a number of hours every day in imagination, with old dolls and paintings and fabrics and feather trees. I draw inspiration and happiness from the memories of that space in time and share some of it here with friends who remember how to step with Alice through the looking glass and take delight in whimsies and antiquities.

For more than sixty years I have studied, collected, repaired, and bought and sold antique dolls. They have been back ground music in my life at every stage, sometimes louder, sometimes subdued, but always there with me. To see only the posts about dolls on this blog, click the banner on the right titled Dolls for My Red Cape. Keep clicking “Older Posts” to see more. Some of the posts featuring rug hooking are gathered under the banner For Cathy. From time to time items are offered for sale under the banner “O’Neill’s Antiques” which was our shop name for many years. ~Edyth O’Neill

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Is it old Staffordshire?

A Friend wrote today asking how to tell the old Staffordshire dogs from newer ones. There are a lot of the spaniels around these days. Here is some of my answer to her. and I would welcome comments from others here and will add any of them to this discussion which I think will aid us here.
..... the spaniels and other figures have been heavily reproduced since at least the 1950's. There are some I am not sure of even in my hands. This makes it hard for most people to be sure what they are buying, and affects the pricing among casual buyers. The hordes of new Chinese ones in the last 20 years has made this even far harder. I had a number of the dogs in the 1960's probably over 10. I felt and feel now that they were fine old ones. I lived in Dallas and then Fort Worth, large cities with a lot of antiquers interested in Staffordshire, and much of it in the shops, Vacations in New Orleans, when I was a working single woman, were filled with trips up and down the streets of the quarter looking in antique shops and book shops.
It is easier to say what is not old enough and dismiss those right away. First the modern Chinese ones I have encountered are made of hard porcelain, not pottery which is softer in the hands. The porcelain ones are always wrong, period. There was certainly porcelain in England long before the hey day of the dogs, about 1850, and the porcelain was used by a few of the "potters" in the Staffordshire district, but the things we collect and call "Staffordshire" today are the earthenware output of this region, that is, pottery. Feel of the early transferware, feel of the early figures, and feel of dogs every chance you get. One must develop a set of hands. You like I, probably have a lot of each in your own kitchen cupboards. Pottery will craze from age and temperature shocks, Porcelain like the German doll heads does not craze. The sometimes poor replacement limbs of ceramic (earthenware, pottery) do craze, you know this right?
Next without touching them, the modern Chinese pieces often have an off color, a grey cast in an effort to look old or dusty? This was true of dogs made a few years ago, but more recently made ones have a better color. The eyes are not painted right. You know how fast you spot the wrong painting on a reproduction china head doll? So can one who has looked at the eyes on a lot of the dogs spot this.
Glass eyes on vintage lions and dogs mean late undesirable about 1890 animals, Many of these were spray painted, or air brush painted so the glaze is fuzzy not like the colors applied with a brush.
The way the spots and features are painted on new ones differs from the way they were done on old ones 1850 to 1870. These are just some of the things that come to my mind. Like old dolls, English ceramics is a field needing and worthy of study and thought. A great field to enjoy! Pictured here is a small part of Jack's mother's collection, much of which we enjoy in our cupboards.
I am not an expert on English ceramics by a far stretch,I have handled literaly thousands of pieces as a dealer and collector, but not with the focus I have given old dolls and Jack has given American pottery and American furniture. So this letter is a very cursory attempt to comment on a huge subject! Good luck with all this! Warmly, Edyth

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