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”)

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]

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]

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 Mid 19thc Staffordshire Seated Red & White Spaniel Dog With Child C1850Superb Pair Of Mid 19thc Staffordshire Greyhound Dogs Holding Rabbits C1850Superb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Cantering Horse On Green Decorative Base C1860A Pair Of Superb 19thc Staffordshire Of Large Sheep W/ Female & Male Figure 1860Superb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Scottish Male Figure, Goat & Watch Holder C1860Antique Staffordshire Pottery Oxblood Spaniel Dog Figure - Nice!Pair Of Antique Staffordshire Dogs Collie Figures Pearlware Standing Superb Pair Of Mid 19th C. Staffordshire Seated Dogs With Fine Detailing C1860Superb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Figurine Group With A Deer & Spill Vase C1860Mid 19th C Staffordshire "queen & King Of Sardinia" & Dog Figurine Group C1850Staffordshire Pair Spaniel Dogs Mother & Puppy FigureSuperb 19thc Staffordshire Coloured Group Spill Vase With Dog C.1860Staffordshire Dogs PairSuperb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Figurine Group Bird Nesting With Spill Vase C1860Superb Mid 19thc Staffordshire Thomas Parr Female Figurine Reading Book C1850Antique Staffordshire Whippet Desk Ink Well Vintage Dog Figurine CollectibleAntique Staffordshire Pottery Spaniel Dog Figurine On Base With FoliageVery Nice Antique Large Sized Staffordshire Spaniel Dog Circa 1920'sStaffordshire Antique Figure Of Cow & Calf Spill VaseAntique Victorian Staffordshire Figurine Of Scottish Dancers Pocket Watch HolderSuperb 19thc Staffordshire Female On Black & White Horse C.1860'sSuperb 19thc Staffordshire Female Figurine With Deer & Spill Vase C1880Minature Staffordshire Ware Dog Figurines EnglandSmall Antique Staffordshire SpanielsSuperb 19thc Staffordshire Porcelain Miniature Of Boy Playing Triangle C.1820Antique Pair Staffordshire England Poodle Spaniel Dog FigurinesAntique Staffordshire Pastille Burner House With Dog & Birds €Pair Ceramic Staffordshire Repro Dalmatian Dogs Figurines, Black/white W/goldStaffordshire Figure Of A. Lincoln Seated On HorsebackSuperb 19thc Staffordshire Porcelain Miniature Of Boy With Bagpipes C.1820Pit Bull American Staffordshire Terrier Dog Breed Scrabble Tile Pendant Jewelry Vintage Staffordshire Poodle Figurines 9" Tall 19th Century Or Early 20th Cen?Reduced! Lancaster & Sons Staffordshire Large Lion Statue Pottery Girl With Dog Figurine, Staffordshire-like, Unsigned, 3 3/4" TallDisney *donald Duck* Thimble Radnor Bone China Staffordshire EnglandSuperb 19thc Staffordshire Treacle Glaze Porcellaneous Recumbent Dog C1880Hand Painted Staffordshire Pottery Cat Figurine