Those adorable little pottery dogs aren’t the only home decor objects that carry the name “Staffordshire.”
You can also find lions and tigers and bears! Oh, my!
And let’s not forget about figures of lords and ladies in a variety of lord and lady poses.
Staffordshire dogs are among the most popular. Fashioned after the royal Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (yes, King Charles of England loved the little dogs), the fired clay figures have been around since the 18th century — often by farmers trying to supplement their income.
The Staffordshire part of the name reflects the area of England where the pottery was made. Six towns in the middle region of the country — Burslem, Fenton, Hanley, Longton, Stoke, and Tunstall — were best known for producing tableware as well as decorative objects from the abundant clay found in the region. (An interesting aside: The term “pot hole” comes from the practice of these early potters digging up roads for the clay. The roads had been cleared of brush, so it was an easier way to get the clay.)
Staffordshire isn’t a specific brand, although several well-known companies still in business today started in the regional pottery business: Wedgwood, Spode, Minton, Aynsley, Doulton, and Twyford.
The Victorians especially loved the dogs and other Staffordshire figures. In fact, most of the antique Staffordshire we get today is from the 1840’s through the 1890’s. Reproductions also are abundant, but it’s nice to know that collectors still can find really nice pieces from the 19th century.
At Clark Antiques Gallery, you’ll find a variety of Staffordshire pottery: The dogs (of course), a pair of lions, and several courtly figures.