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.

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2 Pair Antique 19thc English Staffordshire Pottery Copper Lustre Dog Statues NrAntique 18thc English Staffordshire Pottery, Young Boy & Dog, NrSuperb Pair: Mid 19thc Staffordshire Recumbent Spaniel Dogs & Puppies C1840sEarly Antique Staffordshire Pearlware Figurine Leopard And A Dog As IsSuperb Pair: 19thc Staffordshire Seated Large Lustre & White Spaniel Dogs C1890sPair Of Early 19th C Staffordshire Pearlware Sailors Return & Departure FiguresSuperb Mid 19thc Staffordshire 'winters Tale' Spill Vase Figure C.1852Superb 19thc Staffordshire Of A Child Riding On Her Black & White Setter DogTwo Rare Antique Staffordshire Pottery Flat Backs / Figures Riding Goats -large Superb Pr 19thc Staffordshire Figures 'going To Market & Returning Home'Pair: Mid 19thc Staffordshire Seated Russet Red & White Spaniel Dogs C1860sSuperb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Figurines With Seated Dog & Parrot C1860sPair Of Staffordshire Cats Seated On A CushionSuperb Pair: Mid 19thc Staffordshire Russet Red & White Spaniel Dogs C1850sSuperb 19thc Staffordshire Black & White Flower Basket Spaniel Dog C.1850Superb Pair 19thc Staffordshire Sailor & Wife Figures On Decorative Bases C1880sSuperb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Recumbent Deerhound Dog With Spill Vase C1840sSuperb 19thc Staffordshire White & Gilt Hearthside Spaniel Dog No.2 C.18502 Beswick Staffordshire King Charles Spaniel Dog Figurines 1378-2 England WhiteEarly Antique Victorian Greyhound Staffordshire Pottery Dog FigurineC18th Staffordshire Pearlware Winged Figure Of A Vegetable SellerSuperb Mid 19thc Large Staffordshire Princess Royal Figurine On Horseback C1860sSuperb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Religious Figurine Group Of Saul & Other C1860sA Pair Of Good Staffordshire Pottery * Mantle Cats * Sat On Cushion Bases, Kent?C19th Staffordshire Comforter Dog With A Padlock And ChainSuperb Pair: Mid 19thc Staffordshire Figures Dick Turpin & Tom King C1860sInteresting Mid 19thc Staffordshire Male Sultan Figure On Horseback C1860sLarge Antique Staffordshire Pottery Figure / Flat Back - Man On HorseSuperb 19thc Staffordshire Figure Of A Crusader With Shield C.1860'sSuperb Orig Mid 19thc Miniature Staffordshire Rabbit Figure With Lettuce C1860sOrig. 19thc Staffordshire Recumbent Greyhound Dog On Cobalt Blue Base C1880sInteresting Mid 19thc Staffordshire Porcellaneous Recumbent Dogs & Kennel C1840sPair Of Antique Staffordshire Figurines Woman Farmer Man DancerCapodimonte Crown Staffordshire Fine Art Figurines Handcrafted Painted Yellow RSuperb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Disraeli Black & White Spaniel Dog C1860sOld Staffordshire Ware England Whippet Dog Figurine PairEnglish Staffordshire Dog 6" Tall Early 1900s Antique Staffordshire Pottery - Hunter & Wife Figure - Nice!Vintage Crown Staffordshire J.t. Jones "sunbird" Porcelain Bird Figurine Nice Antique C1840-60 Staffordshire Figure Nice Piece No ReserveAntique Staffordshire Hand Painted Exotic Bird Figurine 8 5/8" Tall #1Antique Staffordshire Hand Painted Exotic Bird Figurine 8 5/8" Tall #2