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china dogs

Popular Ceramics in Georgian and Victorian Society

The wealthier elements in Georgian and Victorian society were provided with a host of ornaments in porcelain and china by a number of prominent Staffordshire manufacturers. About 1840, however, a new generation of potters turned their backs on the imitation of the most famous makers and began to produce unsophisticated, genuinely appealing figures that did not try to disguise the qualities of the clay from which they were made. These were designed for the mass market and great was the financial reward. It is widely considered that the humbler elements in Victorian society were patriotic, sentimental and nonconformist in their religion. Consequently, the Staffordshire figures gave them royalty and military heroes for their patriotism, lovers and folk-heroes for their sentimentality and the leading figures of the nonconformist church for their religion.

Wesley ornament

It is impossible to determine who, exactly, made a particular Staffordshire figure. Such was the output of the potteries, so widely spread a-field and so enormous the quantity that they were seldom, if ever, marked. Fine porcelain and china from such factories as Worcester and Derby were usually marked but copyright was not worth enforcing for pieces that sold for a few shillings. Consequently, every successful figure was copied wholesale in Staffordshire. Certain names have been unearthed, however, George Hood of Bourne's Bank, Kames Dodson of Hanley; John and Rebecca Lloyd of Shelton; Burton of Stoke; Baggalay and Machin of Hanley; Massy, Walley, Booth and Beech of Burslem and Sampson Smith of Longton. With very few known exceptions, all the figures connected with religion refer to non-conformists. These figures which adorned so many households in Britain include John Wesley, Spurgeon, Sankey and moody, William Huntingdon, William Penn, William O'Brian and General Booth. In Wales the heroes of the pulpit include Christmas Evans, John Elias and John Bryan.

Another aspect which connects the potteries with the non-conformists churches was the provision of plates, cups and saucers to mark the anniversary of a particular event and the mass market of providing the chapels with crockery for their general use. These dishes were used on special occasions, such as the monthly meeting, the association or the annual eisteddfod. The name of the chapel was stamped or printed on the article.