Due to an abundance of naturally occurring coal and clay, the Staffordshire region of England is renowned for manufacturing fine china and dinnerware, though local ceramic companies also made a variety of extraordinary figurines. Staffordshire potters began producing these decorative figures during the 18th century, mostly from cheaper earthenware or salt-glazed stoneware.

Eventually, a greater range of colors was used, and potteries made figurines from the finest bone china, which necessitated a switch from hand-sculpted figures to those using press-molds. Staffordshire figurines had their heyday during the Victorian era, and began to disappear in the late 19th century, as imported German bisque products were more affordable.

Staffordshire designs included all manner of domestic and wild animals, as well as human figures taken from historic or current events. At the time, these figures were sometimes referred to as “image toys” or “chimney ornaments.” Those designed as actual chimney ornaments were produced with a flat rear side intended to be hidden when placed against the mantel wall.

Part of the charm of Staffordshire figures is their simple folk style, created mostly by forgotten potters with basic coloring and forms depicting elements of everyday country life. A few artisans working in the Staffordshire region did make figurines in recognizable styles, even though most were unmarked. These include John Astbury’s tradesmen and musicians, Thomas Whieldon’s animals with tortoise-shell glazes, and Obadiah Sheratt’s violent scenes from history, like the tiger mauling Lt. Hugh Munro.

Some of the many animals made into Staffordshire figurines include parrots, hens, roosters, horses, cows, sheep, elephants, cats, deer, lions, zebras, and, of course, dogs. Pairs of dogs were one of the most common forms of Staffordshire figure, often featuring regional breeds like greyhounds or pugs. King Charles Spaniels became the most popular, likely because of Queen Victoria’s famous pet spaniel, Dash.

Many Staffordshire miniatures depicted the royals themselves, such as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, as well as other celebrities like stage actors or literary characters and exoticized individuals from places like Turkey, China, or India.

Interpretations of political events often provided fodder for Staffordshire ceramics, like the various figurines representing the controversy surrounding the New Marriage Act of 1823, which attempted to prevent clandestine marriages that weren’t approved by a couple’s family. The most fascinating of these scenes were drawn straight from tabloid headlines, like the series created after William Corder murdered Maria Marten and hid her body under a nearby barn. Marten, Corder, and the infamous “Red Barn” were all immortalized with Staffordshire figurine designs.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

V&A Porcelain Figures

V&A Porcelain Figures

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s online collection of Meissen porcelain figures includes more than 150 pieces, in… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Superb 19thc Large Staffordshire Kilted Scottish Figure Playing Bagpipes C1880sSuperb Pair: 19thc Staffordshire Large Seated White & Gilt Spaniel Dogs C1880sSmall Antique Victorian Staffordshire Pottery Dog Figurine Superb Pair 19thc Staffordshire Lustre & White Separate Legs Spaniel Dogs C1880sSuperb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Irish Setter Dog With Game Bird & Spill BehindScarce Antique Staffordshire Pottery Figure Henry Viii & Ann Boleyn C.1860Superb Pair: Mid 19thc Staffordshire Russet Red & White Spaniel Dogs C1860sPair: 19thc Staffordshire Very Large Seated White & Gilt Spaniel Dogs C1880sSuperb Pair: Mid 19thc Staffordshire Black & White Seated Spaniel Dogs C1860sVintage 13" Tall English Staffordshire DogSuperb Pair: Mid 19thc Staffordshire Russet Red & White Spaniel Dogs C1860sAntique Stoneware Spaniel Dog Figure - Rockingham - Bennington - StaffordshireCrown Staffordshire Tm Bayley Boy In Garden Figure. 1930's2 Large Staffordshire Dalmatian Dog Figurines Gold & Cobalt Bases VintageMale & Female Staffordshire Cat Shaped Pottery Figurines Glass Eyes AntiqueSuperb 19thc Staffordshire Cat With Open Front Legs & Burgundy Collar C1880sAntique Staffordshire Pug FigurineSmall Staffordshire Whippet Dog Pottery Figurine Resting AntiqueSuperb Early 19thc Staffordshire Pearlware Night Watchman & Other Figure C1810sSuperb Pair: 19thc Large Staffordshire Male Huntsmen Figures On Horseback C1880sSuperb Pair: Mid 19thc Staffordshire Seated Jackfield Black Dogs C1860sSuperb Pr Mid 19thc Staffordshire Porcellanous Figures On Horseback With RabbitsPair Antique Staffordshire Whippet Dog Figurines~ No Res3 Vintage English Staffordshire Ware Dogs, Pair + Smaller SingleSuperb 19thc Large Staffordshire Male Huntsman Figure With Dog To Side C1880sSuperb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Greyhound Dog With Rabbit To Front Of Base C1860sSuperb 19thc Staffordshire Male Military Figure In Uniform On Horseback C1880sAntique Staffordshire Figurine Man With Bird 10 1/4" TallSuperb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Revd. John Wesley Figure In Gothic Niche C1860sSuper Vintage Heredities Staffordshire Bull Terrier Cold Cast Bronze Dog Figure.Superb Pair Large Mid 19thc Staffordshire Russet Red & White Spaniel Dogs C1860sSuperb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Thomas Parr Female Figurine Holding Rabbit C1850sInteresting Early 19thc Staffordshire Pearlware "village Group" Figurines C1810sSuperb Pair: 19thc Staffordshire Black & White Seated Spaniel Dogs C1880sStaffordshire Ware Dogs, Dalmatian Dog Figurines, Pair Of Kent Marked Dog FigureAntique Staffordshire Sheep Herder Dog Spill Vase Superb 19thc Staffordshire Miniature Porcellaneous Standing Pug Dog C1880sSuperb 19thc Staffordshire Porcelain Figure Of Evangelical Hymn Writer MoodySuperb Pair: 19thc Staffordshire Seated White & Gilt Spaniel Dogs C1880sVintage Crown Staffordshire ? Figural Dutch Boy Perfume Bottle Boldoot Top C1920Antique Staffordshire Watch Holder-with 3 Woman- Fabulous Shape!!!Staffordshire Figure - Uncle Tom & Eva C.1850Antique Staffordshire Figurine, Celtic Couple Holding Their Baby, RareSuperb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Blackamoor Uncle Tom & Eva Figurine Group C1850sSuperb 19thc Staffordshire Group Figure Of Two Highland DancersJ. T Jones Crown Staffordshire Bird Figurine.. Pair Of BudgerigarLarge Staffordshire Lion Figurine Glass Eyes Gold Trim AntiqueSuperb Early 19thc Staffordshire Porcellaneous Female Figure & Spill Vase C1820sCollecable Staffordshire Pottery Disney Disneyana Donald Duck Pig Bank MoneyboxStaffordshire Royal Doulton Figure Figurine Holly Hn 3647Vintage Beswick Pottery Pair Of Staffordshire Style Miniature Dogs - Lovely!Staffordshire Figurine Of Courting CoupleOld Vintage Cocker Spaniel Cavalier Ceramic Dogs Figurine Japan Staffordshire ?Antique Pottery 18th Century Style Figurine - Staffordshire?