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]

Gouda Design

Gouda Design

Stuart Lonsdale and Kim Lindley's excellent tribute to and reference on Gouda Dutch Art Pottery and Delftware. The … [read review or visit site]

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Dedicated to raising awareness of the ceramic art work of R. Guy Cowan and his Cowan Pottery Studio in northeastern… [read review or visit site]

The Pottery Studio

The Pottery Studio

This 7,000-plus page site lives up to its self-billing as a 'knowledge base' with examples of work from all major a… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Superb Pr 19thc Staffordshire White Mantlepiece Spaniels No 2Superb Pair: Mid 19thc Staffordshire Disraeli Black & White Spaniel Dogs C1860sC19th Staffordshire Figure Of Actor Mr. Barton As GiaffierSuperb 19thc Staffordshire Witch Figurine Riding Goose Holding Broomstick C1890sGood Antique Genuine Staffordshire Pottery Figure Group. #2. C1850.Superb Pr 19thc Staffordshire Pug Dogs In Standing Pose With Open LegsInteresting Mid 19thc Staffordshire Of Uncle Tom & Eva Figurine Group C1860sSuperb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Mother Goose Figurine With Goose To Side C1860sSuperb 19thc Staffordshire Female Figurine With Wheat Sheaf & Harvest C1880sC19th Staffordshire Figure Of ElijahRare 19th C. Pair Of Staffordshire Figure Pottery Mantle Dogs White SpanielsUnknown Unmarked Old Pottery Brown Pig Figure Bennington Roseville StaffordshireSuperb Mid 19thc Staffordshire "winters Tale " Figurine Group & Spill Vase C1852Superb Pair: Mid 19thc Staffordshire Thomas Parr Porcellaneous Figurines C1840s19thc Staffordshire Porcelaneous Deer, Snake & Monkey Figure Group Spill VaseC19th Staffordshire Figure Of Two Men Either Side Of A Clock FaceGood Antique Staffordshire Man And Dog Figure Group. C1850.Superb Pair: 19thc Staffordshire Large White, Gilt & Lustre Spaniel Dogs C1880sLarge Antique Old Staffordshire Ware English Pottery Figurine Woman Maiden Girl Unusual 19th Century Ceramic Figure Perhaps Scottish Portobello / StaffordshirePair Of Staffordshire Style Dalmatian Dogs Superb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Young Female Figurine On Chair With Parrot C1860sStaffordshire? Vintage Cat FigurineGood Antique Genuine Staffordshire Pottery Figure Group. #1. C1850.Superb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Napoleon Boneparte Figure With Folded Arms C1860sA Very Rare Victorian Staffordshire Red!! Zebra / Striped Horse Figurine Superb Early 19thc Staffordshire Pearlware Cherub Figure With Basket C1810sVintage Staffordshire Ware French Poodle Dog Antique Staffordshire Small 3.5'' Spaniel Dog 19 Century Victorian~doll Size!! Old Staffordshire Ware England Figurine, Boy With GoatFine Vibrantly Colored Victorian Staffordshire Figure Of Cow Horse Spill VaseGenuine Victorian Staffordshire Figure Church Clock Tower No Damage 8 Vintage Crown Staffordshire Bone China Small Springtime Flower FigurinesGreat Old China Staffordshire Dog5 Vintage Crown Staffordshire Bone China Small Springtime Flower Figurines